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Lawsuits are nothing new in the world of entertainment, but even though many of them appear to be carbon copies of one another, there's always one that stands out from the crowd. That's the case in a legal battle happening between Discovery Communications - the company that owns Discovery Channel, TLC and more - and the cable reality TV show production company LMNO Cable Group, and it involves embezzlement, attempted extortion, intentionally hidden paperwork and some of TLC's most popular "little people" shows.
Discovery shot LMNO a message last week that stated contracts were being terminated for six reality shows, including the hit series The LIttle Couple and 7 Little Johnsons, after the company set up a review of its relationship with LMNO and decided that the production group was going against certain policies and practices that butted against contractual rights. Sounds normal, yes?
LMNO's response is where things get pretty wacky, with claims that a former accountant was responsible for a lengthy and in-depth embezzlement racket that put hundreds of thousands of dollars into his possession through years of falsified financial records. According to LMNO's lawsuit, the scheme was discovered last year by company execs, and the accountant's reaction was an attempt to extort another $800,000 from the company, threatening to go to Discovery with the information about the erroneous books.
When LMNO declined to pay up and instead took the issue to authorities, the accountant allegedly did illegally round up the doctored records and took them to Discovery. LMNO then claims, in an attempt to dissolve the companies' business relationship, Discovery ordered a surprise audit, despite knowing that LMNO's financial documents had been stolen, and it's stated in the suit that the accountant apparently discarded some of the records in dumpsters, along with hiding some papers in other files and keeping some inside of boxes in a storage unit.
And the TV icing on the cake here is that LMNO claims new episodes of The Little Couple are being produced solely through Discovery, according to Variety. Part of the suit alleges that Discovery used the situation to take over the series, which is LMNO's biggest moneymaker. No telling what is happening or will happen with the other series that Discovery excised.
Of course, neither side will be budging anytime soon on the issue, as admitting terrible company behavior isn't something that happens all that often. I'm betting TLC wishes that it wasn't in the middle of another controversy, after the disgusting scandals that rocked the channel in recent years. Here's hoping justice prevails.