EXCLUSIVE: There is a disturbance in the Force.
Ballers executive producer Karyn McCarthy has taken the Kathleen Kennedy-run Disney division to court over being pink-slipped from the Leslye Headland-created series last year after just a few weeks of work.
What makes this action all the more bitter and telling of streamer competition for top talent is that UTA-repped McCarthy was being actively courted by Apple at the same time to help run their eventual Colin Farrell-starring P.I. series Sugar, according to the March 7 filing (read it here) by Glaser Weil Fink Howard Avchen & Shapiro LLP. Deciding to throw her lot in with potential long-term commitment to Lucasfilm and The Acolyte in early April 2022, McCarthy found herself in an employment Death Star — and no cash to show for it at the sudden end, it seems.
Or put in bottom-line terms: “As a result of its bad faith and wrongful termination, Defendants deprived Ms. McCarthy significant employment, from which she would have earned millions of dollars over the life of the series.”
After setting up the corporate pursuit by Apple and Lucasfilm and how McCarthy was “the choice” for The Acolyte, the jury-seeking complaint details how she got to work quickly on April 7, 2022, and how a “broad strokes” agreement, full of UK hotel allowances and per diems, was sent to her agent David Morris on April 11. In fact, in that email to Morris from Lucasfilm VP Physical Productions Candice Campos, the exec makes a point of saying how “we really want to make this work!”
Then it all seems to go wrong, fast.
“Two weeks later, without explanation, without reason, without justification, Lucasfilm told McCarthy it wanted out of the deal,” reads the 12-page filing in Los Angeles Superior Court. “By this time, the Apple offer was gone – Apple had to move on and found another executive producer for Sugar. McCarthy now had neither deal.”
As disappointing as that new situation was, it seems like McCarthy took it in the spirit of this being show business and not show friends and made for the exit, expecting to be compensated. That’s where things appeared to get messy even by Tinseltown standards:
With that earlier statement of the EP losing out on “millions of dollars” hanging in the air, McCarthy’s attorneys Patty Glaser, Robert Allen and Matthew W. Bernstein are asking for a wide range of unspecified damages.
Reps for Lucasfilm did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit. If and when they do, we will update.
As for The Acolyte itself, there is no Disney+ debut date yet for the eight-episode series starring Amandla Stenberg. However, we do know that filming has been going on since October 2022 on the other side of the pond. Seemingly with the tone of the Tony Gilroy-created Andor, mystery-thriller The Acolyte is set in the murky end of the High Republic, which is the era before the Star Wars flicks kick off.
All that aside, with Glaser on one side and Disney lawyers on the other, this legal stand-off over McCarthy’s money and deal may be where the real light sabers come out.