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"Real Housewives of Orange County" creator Scott Dunlop and Bravo are being sued over allegations that the long-running series was actually the brainchild of two people who were cut from the production.
Patrick Moses, a TV producer, and Kevin Kaufman, a personal friend of Dunlop, claim that Bravo and Dunlop conspired to cut the pair out of "Housewives," and they want $5 million in damages. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the two filed suit in New York state court last Wednesday, claiming that Dunlop had agreed to split the "Housewives" money with them three ways.
Do these guys actually have a claim to "Real Housewives," or is their suit just more drama?
The Dramatic Origin of 'Housewives'
According to Kaufman and Moses' suit, the show was the collective brainchild of Kaufman, Dunlop, and Moses, drawn from Kaufman's experience of visiting Dunlop in a gated community in Orange County called Coto de Caza.
The lawsuit paints a narrative that Dunlop and Kaufman eventually joined forces with Moses to piece together a show originally called "Behind the Gates." The three also signed a co-production agreement in 2005 which promised the trio would split the "fees, profits, and revenues" equally three ways. The three even formed their own production group, Ventana, which would produce the first season of what would become "Real Housewives."
However, Moses and Kaufman allege that Dunlop was asked by Bravo to go behind his partners' backs and be integral in dropping Ventana as producer -- and substituting Dunlop instead. Not only do the pair claim this was a violation of Dunlop's fiduciary duty to his partners in Ventana, but they also assert Dunlop and Bravo used fraud to cover their tracks.
Dunlop is further alleged to have misrepresented the show's success in order to get Kaufman to sign a legal release. Contracts induced under fraud are typically voidable, which is what Kaufman and Moses are certainly relying on. They also claim that Dunlop fraudulently represented that he had sole control of Ventana's original rights to "Housewives" in a contract terminating them.
This left Bravo free to produce a slew of sequels and spinoffs without having to worry about paying Ventana (or Kaufman or Moses) a dime. And although the exact amount attributable to this fraud hasn't been calculated by the plaintiffs, they'd like at least $5 million.
As for Bravo and Dunlop, neither responded to The Hollywood Reporter's requests for comment.
Unfortunately, the suit did not come with a teaser trailer of the trial.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.