Did you really believe that Al Gore would get away with selling Current TV to Al Jazeera for $500 million without getting sued? We hate to break it to you, silly optimist, but that belief was dashed on Wednesday night when news emerged that media consultant John Terenzio filed suit against Gore and friends. He claims that the original idea to sell the fledgling Current TV network to Al Jazeera was his and that Gore cut him out of the deal at the last minute. Now, Terenzio wants $5 million for his contribution.
Perhaps more interesting, though, is how Terenzio is starting to unveil the details of the back room dealing that led to the acquisition, including the fact that Al "The Inconvenient Truth" Gore vehemently refused to sell Current to a company funded by oil money. He obviously changed his mind.
The lawsuit itself sounds a little grizzly. The Hollywood Reporter broke the news and explained:
Terenzio … alleges that in late 2011, he presented a proposal for Al Jazeera titled 'Path to U.S. Distribution' by Richard Nanula, a principal in Colony Capital … [in order] to explore potential financing and joint venture partners for the project.
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.
Oh brother. Can't a new media company just make a buck off an acquisition deal without getting sued these days? Terenzio's lawsuit sounds pretty similar to an on-going tug-of-war between Arianna Huffington, the founders of the Huffington Post and two politicos, Peter Daou and James Boyce, who claim to have come up with the idea for the site only to be cut out ahead of the launch and just a few years before AOL bought the whole enterprise for a smooth $315 million.
Therein lies the rub. In this money-grubbing world, things get dicey when million-dollar sums are on the line. A $500-million sum makes things downright nasty. However, it also appears to have been enough to get Al Gore to cave on his principles. "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," says the lawsuit. "Apparently, Gore had a change of heart." If he'd object on environmental grounds to begin with, Gore certainly changed his tune by the time the sale went through and he found himself discussing the details in interviews. The former vice president and climate change activist told Matt Lauer how Al Jazeera's "climate coverage has been far more extensive and high-quality."
So what prompted Al Gore's change in heart? It's unclear at this point. Money helps, but Gore was actually pretty rich before the Al Jazeera deal. That said, Gore's $100 million cut is a chunk of change large enough to make a rich man a crazy rich man. It's also enough to start a pretty awesome foundation for climate change research. Not that that's how Al Gore is going to spend his spoils, but if he does do that, we want our cut for coming up with the idea please.