Back in 2013, actress Gabrielle Union took on the role of cable news anchor Mary Jane Paul in BET’s first hour-long scripted drama Being Mary Jane. A little over three years later, she and the network are at odds over the series’ fourth and fifth seasons.
Union has filed suit against BET, claiming the network agreed to never produce more than 13 episodes per season but is currently planning to tape “two 10-episode seasons back-to-back” to “cram all of the episodes into a single season in order to fraudulently extend the term of Ms. Union’s contract,” according to THR.
The site continues, “Union’s attorney Martin Singer claims the network is combining seasons four and five to avoid paying his client’s contractual raise and to extend its option to engage her services for another year. Under her contract, Union is set to receive $150,000 per episode for season four and $165,000 per episode for season five. The actress is suing the network and Breakdown Productions for breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation.”
In her complaint, Union notes that though there is a provision allowing for a maximum of 26 episodes in one season, producers assured her she would never be asked to do more than 13. The provision was a requirement of the performer agreement she signed as a part of corporate policy.
After signing on, her contract was amended several times and she seeks to amend it once more.
“BET only produced eight episodes in the first season and 12 in the second. This prompted Union’s representatives to renegotiate her contract so she would be paid for 13 episodes, even if BET didn’t order that many. In 2015, her contract was amended again to include an executive producer credit and to require that at Union’s request a BET executive be physically on set during taping, according to the complaint. The suit also claims that Walker has been appointed the executive on set despite no longer being a BET employee and having no authority to act in response to production issues.
After season three wrapped in June 2015, the series lost its showrunner. So season four didn’t start filming until last month. Union wasn’t notified until a week before principal photography began that BET intended to slate all 20 episodes as season four.”
THR adds, “Union never would have agreed to star in Being Mary Jane if BET executives hadn’t assured her they’d shoot no more than 13 episodes, according to the complaint. She’s seeking damages of at least $1 million and an order that her contract be amended to reflect that there be a maximum of 13 episodes per season.”
BET has not commented at this time.
SOURCE: THR | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty