Remember the TV reality show “Making the Band,” which spawned the short-lived boy band O-Town? If you weren’t a 12-year-old girl in 2000, when the show premiered, you might not. Even Sean “Diddy” Combs, who joined the show after its first season, couldn’t make it a bona fide hit.
Nevertheless, the show’s revenue is at the center of a suit pitting the bankruptcy estate of a film production company once run by Lou Pearlman — the infamous boy band manager who is now serving time in prison for orchestrating a $300 million Ponzi scheme — against Viacom, MTV and the Diddy-controlled companies Bad Boy Films and Bad Boy Records. The Pearlman estate claims that Viacom and the Bad Boy companies cheated it out of at least $60 million generated by the Making the Band franchise.
In two brief orders issued Friday (here and here) Orlando federal district court judge John Antoon II ruled the suit can go forward, denying motions to dismiss by Viacom and the Bad Boy companies.
Pearlman’s film and production company, Trans Continental, had a joint venture with Viacom’s MTV to share in the profits from “Making the Band.” But according to Pearlman’s amended complaint, MTV began to push Pearlman out when it brought in Sean Combs as a producer after the first season. MTV, according to the complaint, ultimately stopped paying royalties to Pearlman, arguing that “Making the Band II,” “III,” and “IV” were not sequels to “Making the Band.” MTV retracted that argument after the suit was filed, according to the complaint, and now takes the position that “Making the Band” made no money after the first two seasons.
James Sammataro of Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman, lead counsel for the Pearlman estate, expects the case to be ready for trial next year. “We look forward to having the jury decide the extent of the damages caused by Viacom and Bad Boy’s misconduct, as the evidence suggests that both orchestrated acts that stripped Trans Continental of its rights and interests in the television series, Making the Band,” he said.
Neither Jonathan Davis, a solo attorney who represents the Bad Boy companies, nor Viacom counsel Andrew Ehrlich of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison returned our calls for comment.