Katalyst sues California DMV for breach of contract

Ashton Kutcher (pictured) and Jason Goldberg's prodco has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Motor Vehicles alleging that it backed out of an agreement to participate in a TruTV reality series about the day-to-day activities of its employees and customers.
June 20, 2012

Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg’s production company Katalyst Network is suing the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for allegedly backing out of a reality TV series deal starring its employees, according to U.S. media reports.

According to the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in a Los Angeles Superior Court by Katalyst and production company Soda and Pop, the two companies are seeking at least $1.44 million in damages for pulling out of a 2010 deal to develop a half-hour show about the employees and customers of the DMV. TruTV had picked up the series, tentatively entitled California DMV: Field Offices.

“The series was conceived and designed to capture the variously humorous, emotional, dramatic, moving, humanizing and entertaining situations that arise on a daily basis at DMV’s more than 170 offices across the State of California,” the suit states.

It goes on to outline how DMV officials agreed to work on the series, formalized an agreement to provide access to its offices and facilities over summer and fall 2011 to shoot four episodes “involving the day to day activities between DMV employees and its customers” as well as options for six future seasons and participated in a press release announcing the TruTV deal.

“Six weeks after signing its agreement, DMV abruptly and without justifiable excuse, changed course,” according to the filing. “In a five sentence letter to Katalyst Jason Goldberg, [DMV deputy director Mike] Marando simply declared that DMV no longer considered the series to be in its ‘best interests’ and therefore ‘not be moving forward on such a project.’”

When asked to comment on the case, Marando declined. “We don’t comment on pending litigation,” he said.

Katalyst also produces the reality series’ Punk’d and Beauty and the Geek.

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Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.