Gabrielle Union Sues BET Over ‘Being Mary Jane’ Breach Of Contract
By Evangeline Ovwighotu
The lawsuit was filed after BET ordered shoot of all 20 episodes of seasons four and five back-to-back. The order is contrary to Union’s contract which states that it would never produce more than 13 episodes per season in order to allow the actress pursue other movie roles.
“BET now wants to shoot twenty (20) episodes of the series back-to-back and cram all of the episodes into a single season in order to fraudulently extend the term of Ms. Union’s contract, with no additional consideration, and to deprive Ms. Union of her agreed-upon compensation for the next two seasons of Being Mary Jane. It is outrageous that BET would treat one of its biggest stars in this manner after all she has done to support the network and contribute to its success,” the suit states.
The “Birth of a Nation” actress is seeking general damages of at least $3 million and a statement that BET cannot seek more than 13 episodes for any season of the high-rated show. But BET has not publicly responded to the lawsuit.
Gabrielle Union, who became a star in teenage movies like 1999’s “She’s All That” and 2000’s “Bring It On,” recently won raves for her work in Nate Parker’s acclaimed antebellum drama “The Birth of a Nation.”
After season three wrapped in June 2015, the series lost its showrunner. So season four didn’t start filming until last month. Union wasn’t notified until a week before principal photography began that BET intended to slate all 20 episodes as season four.
Union never would have agreed to star in Being Mary Jane if BET executives hadn’t assured her they’d shoot no more than 13 episodes, according to the complaint. She’s seeking damages of at least $1 million and an order that her contract be amended to reflect that there be a maximum of 13 episodes per season.