Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Duchovny X-Files a Lawsuit

By Devin D. O'Leary

SEPTEMBER 7, 1999:  What's got the star of "X-Files" so grumpy these days? Maybe that "David Duchovny (Why Won't You Love Me)" song is creeping him out. Maybe he's just pissed 'cause he isn't making any money off of it. Duchovny does seems to be in an extremely fiscal mood lately. In a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court two weeks ago, the actor alleged that 20th Century Fox Film Corp. has cheated him out of millions of dollars in profits from the "X-Files" television series. Although the amount of damages has not been specified, sources close to the case say Duchovny is seeking in excess of $25 million.

Amusingly enough, the case reads like some conspiracy straight out of "The X-Files." According to Duchovny's complaint, Fox sold various rights to "The X-Files" to its own or affiliated companies at below-market prices, therefore reducing the apparent profits generated by the series and cheating Duchovny out of his fair share. Why would a company willingly reduce its own profits? In 1995, Duchovny agreed to sign on to the hit series for two more years in exchange for profit participation. Since then, the show has been sold into syndication all over the world. Duchovny alleges that the studio has not sought out the most competitive and financially beneficial environment for the show -- instead selling it off to its own broadcasting network, to the FX cable network and to assorted FOX affiliates. So 20th Century Fox doesn't lose anything in the deals really, because it's essentially selling the show to itself. But those who have a piece of the profit-sharing pie stand to lose millions.

Like series creator Chris Carter, for example.

In the lawsuit's strangest twist, however, Duchovny has named Carter as a prime player in this multimillion dollar conspiracy. According to Duchovny, Carter agreed to the profit-shaving scheme in exchange for $4 million in hush money and a 13-episode development deal for his new FOX series "Harsh Realm."

The problem is that Duchovny's lawsuit comes at a very bad time for the show. Duchovny recently convinced the show's producers to make a costly move to Los Angeles so that he could be closer to his wife Téa Leoni. Since then, the show has seen its ratings dip drastically. Overexposure (thanks to a high-profile movie and countless reruns) is one factor. This summer's "X-Files" reruns on FOX have taken a frightening 57 percent dive. Summer season ratings are always lower than the regular season, but just two years ago "The X-Files" was experiencing only a 39 percent dip.

Duchovny has been grousing about his "X-Files" gig for years now. Is this lawsuit merely his latest effort to sever ties with the show? With no new contract in sight, could the seventh season of "The X-Files" be Duchovny's last? The truth is out there.


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