LOS ANGELES (AP) — Keith Olbermann is moving his grievances with his former employer Current TV from the airwaves to the courtroom, suing the network for more than $50 million and blasting it for what he claims were shoddy production values.
Olbermann's breach-of-contract lawsuit filed in Los Angeles on Thursday also seeks a judge's ruling that he didn't disparage the network before his firing, and that his former bosses violated his agreement by disclosing how much he was being paid.
The suit makes several attacks on Current co-founder Joel Hyatt and network President David Borman, claiming they were responsible for many of his show's problems.
A spokeswoman for the network, which was also co-founded by Vice President Al Gore, said it did not have an immediate comment on Olbermann's lawsuit.
The lawsuit comes roughly a week after Olbermann was fired from "Countdown" and two days after he attacked his former employers on David Letterman's late-night talk show.
"Current's dysfunction permeated all levels of the organization," the lawsuit states. "After being on the air for nearly eight months — long after all 'growing pains' should have ceased — Current still couldn't manage to, literally, keep the lights on."
The complaint describes a litany of technical issues, including shoddy equipment that wouldn't work if it rained, "terrible sound and filming" of the show, guests who were abruptly dropped from the air, busted teleprompters and an earpiece that malfunctioned.
The talk show host claims he may be owed in excess of $70 million, and that the mismanagement at Current has damaged its value. He has an ownership stake in the network, according to the case.
"Olbermann deeply regrets his decision to put his trust in Hyatt and Gore," the lawsuit claims. "Current had neither the desire nor the ability to produce a first rate news commentary show. Olbermann did not join Current to ruin his hard-won reputation and appear on a show that was an embarrassment."
Olbermann was fired March 30 and replaced with a new program hosted by former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer. In a statement, Gore and Hyatt said their relationship with Olbermann no longer reflected respect and other values.
In his lawsuit, Olbermann accused Hyatt of acting erratically in his leadership at the network. He claims Hyatt threated to fire him and his staff days before the show premiered.
While the host is critical of Gore — at one point describing him and Hyatt as "dilettantes portraying entertainment industry executives" — his complaint does not attack the former vice president in the same way as he does others. The case even airs Olbermann's dissatisfaction with the network's decision to hire Cenk Uygur, who created the talk show "The Young Turks."
Olbermann came to Current last June after a stormy eight-year stint at MSNBC, his second at that network. The at-times volatile host abruptly left MSNBC in January 2011.
Anthony McCartney can be reached at https://twitter.com/mccartneyAP .
- Keith Olbermann
- Joel Hyatt