Producer Chuck Lorre is a few years late and a couple of million short but the man wants his money.
Lorre, who created the '90s blue-collar sitcom Grace Under Fire, has filed a lawsuit against the show's producers, Carsey-Werner-Mandabach, claiming he's lost millions because profits were spent on hush money to placate cast and crew members sexually harassed and verbally abused by star Brett Butler, reports Reuters.
Carsey-Werner-Mandabach spokesperson James Anderson offered "no comment" on Thursday citing pending litigation.
In the suit, filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Lorre also alleges accounting irregularities in the production team's books.
Lorre, who wrote the pilot episode and served as executive producer for the first year, claims he inked a deal with Carsey-Werner that would pay him about 11 percent of the show's net profits.
According to court documents, after the TV veteran left Carsey-Werner "failed to properly manage" the show, permitting a hostile working environment "in which sexual harassment and verbal and emotional abuse by Butler against cast and crew members were tolerated and ignored."
Lorre says the producers were then forced to squander the show's profits on "substantial" settlements to the disgruntled crew.
"Plaintiffs allege that an executive producer and at least two and possibly three supporting cast members received large cash settlements to resolve their claims of sexual harassment and emotional and verbal abuse," contends the lawsuit.
Lorre, who also worked on laffers Roseanne and Dharma & Greg, further alleges that Carsey-Werner continued to pay select cast and crew members after the show wrapped in February 1998 and that the producers tried to hide financial discrepancies from him.
Now, he's looking for at least $3.4 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
Grace Under Fire, which premiered in 1993 and carved itself a niche as a lower-decibel Roseanne, was a top 10 hit for ABC until Butler's "personal issues" began to interfere with production. The show was briefly shuttered in 1997 when Butler entered rehab for an addiction to prescription painkillers. Costar Julie White, citing Butler's running diva routine, left the same year.
In 1998, the show was yanked midseason after the former stand-up "blew up" on the set, in the words of one network source. Butler later admitted she had no one to blame but herself for the cancelation. "I threw a soda can in [the executive producer's] direction. I did not harm him, but I did it and it was inexcusable," she told Entertainment Tonight in 1999.
Other on-set antics that led the demise of her show (and career) included: flashing her male colleagues; throwing monster temper tantrums; and, generally making life miserable for all involved in the production of her sitcom.
Butler's since appeared in a couple of straight-to-video stinkers, Militia and Bruno, and is currently shooting a comedy opposite Ernie Hudson titled Halfway Decent. One would hope.