Report: 'Apprentice' lawsuit ends
Producer Mark Burnett settles litigation over fees, agrees to new projects with product firm: AdAge.
May 23, 2005: 10:35 AM EDT
NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Reality television producer Mark Burnett and a company that specializes in product placement advertising have ended their three month-old court battle, according to a news report.
AdAge.com reported that Mark Burnett Productions and Madison Road Entertainment have not only settled their dueling lawsuits, but have also agreed to work together on future projects.
The companies, both based in Los Angeles, grabbed headlines in March when they sued each other in a dispute that grew out of "The Apprentice," the NBC reality show starring Donald Trump in which marketers pay money to have their products featured on the program.
Burnett, the top Hollywood producer and creator of "Survivor" and "The Contender," sued Madison Road first, accusing the firm of overcharging advertisers for product placement deals on "The Apprentice" and of fraudulently claiming it was the show's exclusive product placement agency.
According to Burnett's lawsuit, Madison Road charged advertisers up to 2-1/2 times more than Burnett was asking for product placement deals. Madison Road negotiated deals on behalf of the makers of Crest toothpaste, Levi's and Mars candy bars.
Madison Road countered with a $20 million defamation lawsuit against Burnett's company.
Three months after the nasty sniping threatened to tarnish both companies' reputations, the lawsuits have been settled, according to the report on AdAge.com.
In addition to dismissing their respective lawsuits, the companies agreed to work together on a future reality show and "at least two episodes" of the fifth edition of "The Apprentice."
The third installment of "The Apprentice" ended Thursday.
Burnett and Madison Road CEO Jak Severson praised the end of the litigation and their newfound alliance.
"Branded entertainment has become such a growth industry, it makes sense for us to be in business with Madison Road," Burnett said in a statement quoted by AdAge.com.
"We share a lot of common alliances that would benefit everybody if we just try to work together," Severson was quoted as saying.
According to AdAge.com, the settlement did not resolve critical issues surrounding product placement, namely pricing and concerns among advertisers that they were paying too much to have their brand mentioned on television shows.
What's more, the trade publication said that networks are demanding a bigger share of the product placement fees charged by producers.