More than five years after Norris sued the network and the studio for more than $30 million over profits from the eight seasons-plus of the procedural, lawyers and spokespeople for both sides say “the parties have resolved the dispute.”
CBS and Norris’ attorney John V. Berlinski are being as tight-lipped about the confidential settlement as the laconic Sergeant Cordell Walker himself, Norris pocketed a healthy sum in the end, I hear.
Sony Pictures TV was originally a defendant in the January 31, 2018-filed breach-of-contract lawsuit, but the studio was dismissed from the matter last year.
Litigated though the darkest days of the pandemic and with arbitration, the initial complaint from Norris’ Top Kick Productions alleged that Sony and CBS engaged in “self-dealing” that “cost Top Kick millions of dollars in past and future license fees.” With estimates that the series made over $692 million since its 1993 debut, the filing claimed, “the Defendants have consciously sought to market, sell and distribute Walker in ways that are designed to collect significant fees and revenues from the ongoing exploitation of Walker but without having to honor or pay Top Kick, and to instead materially breach the 23 Percent Profit Clause.”
In numerous filings throughout since Norris first made his claims public, CBS has always denied there was anything underhanded or breached.
Such profit dustups are nothing new over the decades of crafty (to put it politely) Hollywood accounting or in the age of streaming. As in the case of the ultimately victorious WGA’s packaging fight with the agencies last year, the courts have proven the most effective route to either resolve or, as in the Norris matter, edge towards a deal.
Stating his reputation was part of the reason that CBS picked up Walker in the first place, Norris was seeking at least $30 million from the network and Sony for revenue they made via streaming platforms and more — a stance that probably resonates strongly with striking scribes and actors who are pursuing greater residuals and other financial compensation for their work on such platforms.
To that end, Norris’ Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert, Nessim, Drooks, Lincenberg & Rhow, P.C. lawyer Berlinski filed a request for dismissal with prejudice in Los Angeles Superior Court on July 21 for the “entire action of all parties and all causes of action.” With nothing left but to close the book, Judge Kevin Brazile signed off on it Monday, ending the matter.
Created by Oscar winner Paul Haggis, Leslie Greif, Chis Canaan and Godfather producer Al Ruddy, Walker, Texas Ranger ran on CBS from 1993-2001, and spawned the cliffhanging 2005 TV movie Trial by Fire.
The much-memed Norris has of course also starred in a slew of roundhouse-delivering flicks starting with 1969’s The Wrecking Crew, including alongside pal Bruce Lee in 1972’s Way of the Dragon and 2012’s The Expendables 2. In recent years, the in-on-the-joke Norris has had a humorous resurrection with his appearance online and on the small screen with Chuck Norris Facts.
So, as the expression goes: “Contrary to popular belief, Chuck Norris has never cheated death. He always wins fair and square.” Substitute death for … well, you get it.