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Former Relativity executive accuses founder of fraud and alleges porn activity in offices

Ryan Kavanaugh, the founder and chief executive of Relativity Media, has been hit with a lawsuit by a former executive at the studio who accuses the once high-flying media executive of hiring him on false pretenses and then improperly firing him.

In a bizarre twist, former executive Adam Fields also contends that porn-related activity has taken place in the Relativity offices in Beverly Hills.

Fields worked a four-month stint at Relativity as co-president of production before abruptly departing the company in September. In the lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Fields contends that Kavanaugh misrepresented the company’s financial outlook when persuading him to join the company, and that Kavanaugh failed to live up to their four-year employment agreement.

Relativity has been fighting to survive after emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March. The studio has dealt with a number of box-office flops since then, such as the comedy “Masterminds” and horror release “The Disappointments Room.”

Fields contends he was pushed aside at Relativity in favor of Dana Brunetti, the producing partner of actor Kevin Spacey. The suit alleges that Kavanaugh created a hostile work environment and even concocted a claim that Fields leaked confidential information as grounds for termination.

Brunetti left the company in December as Relativity continued experiencing financial difficulties.

As part of the lawsuit, Fields contends that unbeknownst to him, Relativity was an investor in a pornography website and that porn-related activity took place in the office, including a photo shoot involving models. He said that the porn investment was a “digital initiative” that the company undertook to supplement its income.

The court filing states that the atmosphere at Relativity was less than professional, describing it as “a dysfunctional company that operated closer to the cantina scene in ‘Star Wars’ than a normal production company.”

A lawyer for Kavanaugh didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Relativity continues to struggle to find its financial footing. This month, RED, the company’s distribution venture with France’s EuropaCorp, laid off most of its staff amid continued signs of difficulty at Relativity.

Fields is seeking compensatory and punitive damages from Kavanaugh, according to the filing.

david.ng@latimes.com

@DavidNgLAT

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