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Hannah Montana Dispute Confusing Many

Monday, May, 23, 2016

Typical Hollywood disputes are settled behind closed doors. Arbitration is the most frequent tool actors and directors use to keep disputes out of the public eye and most of the time these disputes are settled without the public ever really knowing the details.


Despite the common nature of confidentiality in Hollywood, one dispute involving the Nickelodeon program Hannah Montana is currently being compared to the disputes that take place in the NFL between the league, the players, and the union.


The dispute began in 2008. The attorney for the show’s creators argues that when creative accept contracts that contain mandatory arbitration clauses, they might as well be working as an NFL player – under the control of the league and the commissioner. The show’s co-creators complained there was an alleged breach of contract concerning contingent compensation. Each of the cases filed by each of the co-creators took different paths.


The first took place at a commercial tribunal at the American Arbitration Association. Parties received bonuses to be paid upon series milestones and there was a difference in opinion concerning a rider to a contract applied and how much, if any, money was owed. Ultimately, it was determined that Disney was operating Hannah Montana at a deficit, so no money was owed.


That was the first dispute. The second dispute also went to arbitration, but this arbitrator allowed more discover and the plaintiff and Disney settled with one another. The creator from the original case wanted access to documents from the second case, but the request was refused. Many find the work of this arbitrator perplexing and question whether it is acceptable for multi-million settlements reached during arbitration to remain confidential.