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Actor Don Johnson is awarded $23.2 million in 'Nash Bridges' lawsuit

A Los Angeles jury finds that he was owed the money from the production company Rysher Entertainment for profits accrued to date from the TV show because he owned half of its copyright.

July 08, 2010|By Victoria Kim, Los Angeles Times

Nearly a decade after the fictional San Francisco police detective Nash Bridges called it quits, the actor who played him will be receiving a belated $23.2-million check in profits from the show.

That's the sum a Los Angeles jury on Wednesday found that actor Don Johnson was owed from the production company Rysher Entertainment in profits accrued to date from the show, which Johnson's attorney said is still being shown in more than 40 countries around the world.

Johnson, the former "Miami Vice" star, sued Rysher, saying he was entitled to half the profits from the show because he owned half of its copyright.

The company contended during trial that the show has yet to be profitable because it cost so much to make, and that Johnson, who also was an executive producer, already had received tens of millions of dollars during filming.

In a phone interview after the verdict, Johnson said he was relieved the trial was over and that he will now be able to focus on his creative pursuits.

"I would've preferred to never have gone through it, but you have to take a stand for what's right and what's just and what was contracted for," he said. "As an artist, it's just important for me to keep going forward and doing my work."

The 11-1 verdict came after less than a day of jury deliberations in Los Angeles County Superior Court. It came on the heels of a $269.2-million federal verdict against the Walt Disney Co. involving similar issues over profit from the show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?"

Mark Holscher, Johnson's attorney, said jurors had recognized Johnson's ownership of half of the series and that the actor also will continue to receive half of the profits from syndication in the future.

"Millions and millions of people are still watching Don Johnson every day," Holscher said.

Bart Williams, an attorney for Rysher, said in a statement that the company would appeal.

"We are ready to undergo the appeals process and are confident that in the end, today's outcome will be reversed," he said.

During the trial, the now 60-year-old actor recounted for jurors his rise to stardom and said he was able to negotiate a favorable contract because of his success as a star of "Miami Vice."

Williams accused the actor of trying to change the terms of his contract because of his foundering career since his Nash Bridges days and questioned why Johnson had waited until almost a decade after the show's end to bring the lawsuit.

victoria.kim@latimes.com

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