Media consultant John Terenzio is suing former U.S. Vice President Al Gore for stiffing him of a cool $5 million over the environmental activist's sale of Current TV to the Al Jazeera, the Islamist-friendly news network owned by the oil-rich country of Qatar. In a nutshell, Terenzio claims the sale was his idea and that he got the ball rolling on the sale, only to see Gore initially reject it before changing his mind and negotiating the sale without Terenzio.
Eriq Gardner of the Hollywood Reporter has the details in what is the latest development in the Al Gorezeera saga:
Current TV's $500 million sale to Al Jazeera has prompted a lawsuit that claims co-founder Al Gore originally was opposed to the deal but had a "change of heart" on selling his cable network to oil-rich Qataris.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in San Francisco Superior Court by John Terenzio, who presents himself as a highly regarded media consultant, executive and TV producer who conceived the idea for the distribution of an American version of Al Jazeera.
Now, Terenzio claims that he has been cut out of the lucrative deal.
Terenzio says that in June, he identified Current TV as a potential acquisition target for Al Jazeera given its vast distribution network and well-publicized financial woes.
At Terenzio's direction, [Colony Capital's Richard] Nanula is said to have approached Richard Blum, a member of Current's board of directors (and the husband of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein), who was interested because "he and other Current investors were concerned about the prospect of losing their shirts in the financially troubled Current."
Terenzio says he met Blum in July and presented "a step-by-step approach for making the sale of the liberal media outlet to Al Jazeera palatable to U.S. lawmakers, pro-Israel factions, cable operators and, most importantly, the American public."
The lawsuit claims that the structure proposed and the strategies developed were the same ones developed by Terenzio for CCTV and that there was a "mutual understanding that Terenzio would be compensated if Current TV utilized his idea to consummate a sale to Al Jazeera."
The presentation was left with Blum to show other Current investors, according to the lawsuit. Blum is said to have opined that Gore might find a transaction with Al Jazeera "politically unappealing" but that he would present it to the former U.S. vice president.
What happened next likely will generate much conversation given that Gore has made the media rounds defending the sale. According to the lawsuit, "Plaintiffs are informed and believe that Gore was adamant in his rejection of the proposal to sell his liberal, environmentally friendly network to the oil-rich Quataris who owned Al Jazeera. Apparently, Gore had a change of heart."
Terenzio said that without his knowledge or approval, and "notwithstanding Gore's original objection," Current was sold to Al Jazeera on Jan. 2.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit says he has confirmed that the Current sale was "motivated by Terenzio's presentation and that the transaction was patterned on the structure proposed to Blum."
Terenzio is suing for breach of implied agreement, unjust enrichment and quantum meruit ("what one has earned"). He's seeking $5 million for each cause of action. The lawsuit was filed by Ellyn Garofalo at Liner Grode Stein Yankelevitz in San Francisco.