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'Days of Our Lives' producers sue Sony Pictures Television, claiming unfair treatment

'Days of Our Lives' producers sue Sony Pictures Television, claiming unfair treatment
Bryan Dattilo, left, Suzanne Rogers, Bill Hayes, Susan Hayes and Alison Sweeney in a scene from "Days of Our Lives." (Chris Haston / NBC / © NBC Universal, Inc)

There’s an actual soap opera brewing behind the scenes of “Days of Our Lives,” now in its 54th season.

Producers of the long-running daytime series on NBC are suing Sony Pictures Television, which distributes the show in overseas territories and in ancillary markets, like digital streaming.

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Corday Productions is alleging in the lawsuit that Sony has treated the show unfairly through an anti-competitive scheme that is intended to favor Sony’s own soap opera, “The Young and the Restless.”

In the lawsuit, the producers claim that Sony has stiffed them by forcing Corday to absorb budgetary deficits and failing to offer the show for sale in certain foreign and ancillary markets. Corday said that it has partnered with Sony on “Days of Our Lives” by splitting both the profits from the series and any costs in excess of the budget, which is financed by NBC.

The complaint, which was filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, also alleges that Sony has provided Corday with inaccurate accounting and has failed to pay millions of dollars in profits. Corday is seeking more than $20 million in profit restitution.

“This claim is meritless,” said a Sony Pictures Television spokesperson in a statement.

New York-based Corday Productions is run by Ken Corday, who has produced “Days of Our Lives” for more than three decades.

His suit alleges that Sony has financially starved “Days of Our Lives” by failing to sell the show in key territories including Great Britain and France. As a result, foreign revenues from Sony’s distribution of the series from 2015 to 2018 dropped more than 50%, according to the complaint.

Corday also alleges that Sony executives have expressed indifference to the show, claiming that Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Tony Vinciquerra said “Days of Our Lives” is no longer a priority for Sony and that the “show is hanging by a thread.”

The suit states that Sony has instead favored its own daytime drama “The Young and the Restless,” which the studio produces and distributes. “The Young and the Restless” airs on CBS.

“This manifest conflict of interest — fraught with the potential for self-dealing — creates a strong incentive for Sony to favor licensing ‘The Young and The Restless,’ and not ‘Days of our Lives,’ in foreign markets,” the complaint says.

Corday claims that Sony has failed to negotiate a license fee with NBC that has a reasonable profit” for Corday, while negotiating a more favorable license fee from CBS for “The Young and The Restless.”

“Days of Our Lives” is the only remaining daytime soap opera on NBC. The series, which began airing in 1965, is the second-longest running soap opera currently in production in the U.S., behind “General Hospital” on ABC.

10:38 p.m.: This article was updated with a comment from Sony Pictures Television.

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