‘The Amazing Race’ Co-Creator Bertram Van Munster Sued For Fraud By Ex-CBS Exec

EXCLUSIVE: The co-creator of The Amazing Race could find himself in a mad dash for the courthouse due to a fraud lawsuit filed today.

Ex-CBS and Warner Bros executive Leigh Collier is alleging that Bertram van Munster formed and then dissolved production company New Media Collective with her.

That’s the most innocuous part.

More ruinously, Collier is also claiming that the Emmy-winning producer went on to re-create the entity behind her back. Quoting a New Media Collective press release’s boosts of having “closed over $62 million in production deals,” Collier is legally nettled, to say the least.

“In or around 2014 PLAINTIFF pioneered the concept for a new media production company whereby a network of local, physical production companies would effectively be rolled-up under the auspices of a single entity to develop and create programming in local and often untapped markets for global use,” the former CBS TV VP, Programming & Development’s filing in L.A. Superior Court states of what became her joint venture with van Munster in 2015 (read it here).

For timeline purposes, Collier left CBS in May 2014 a.k.a over a year before getting into business with van Munster.

Citing fraud, breach of oral contract, misappropriation of trade secrets and five other claims, the jury trial seeking complaint goes on to detail how the Amazing Race EP brought Douglas Vargas and ex-Big Brother executive Mark Dziak on as partners in 2016.

The 12-page filing also goes on to illustrate that despite the claim that Collier “worked tirelessly to form the company, including but not limited to forming business strategies and looking for and retaining outside investment” for almost a year, Dziak in July 2016 told her that the rest of the newly minted New Media Collective “longer wished to pursue the venture.”

“Disappointed but undergoing “medical issues at the time,” Collier accepted the change of heart and moved on. An evolution that saw her form Picnic Gold in 2017, a production company focused on projects out of India. With all that, Collier apparently considered the umbrella nature of her concept and New Media Collective dead — until last year.

“In June 2021 DZIAK ‘friended’ PLAINTIFF on the social application Clubhouse,” the unspecified “economic, special, incidental and consequential” and “punitive” damages” seeking complaint reveals.

“At that time, and through his profile links, PLAINTIFF discovered for the first time that not only did DEFENDANTS move forward with the formation of THE NEW MEDIA COLLECTIVE without her, but that DEFENDANTS were doing business and profiting from her valuable ideas and intellectual property without her knowledge or consent,” Collier’s Chapman Glucksman Dean & Roeb attorneys stated. “PLAINTIFF did not become aware of the DEFENDANTS’ wrongful conduct to that point since none of the DEFENDANTS informed her that they would continue to pursue PLAINTIFF’S concepts and ideas nor was there any reasonable outlet for PLAINTIFF to have discovered such facts.”

Along with seeking some cash, Collier wants to be awarded a “1/3 interest” in New Media Collective and “a judicial declaration of the rights and duties of the parties with respect to the ownership percentage” of the company.

Reps for van Munster did not respond to request for comment from Deadline If and when they do, we will update. However, with van Munster co-EP’d reality series Race to the Center of the Earth cancelled after just one season by Nat Geo in late January, it doesn’t look like it’s been a good month for New Media Collective so far.

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