Don Johnson scored a major victory yesterday, not on the screen, but in a Los Angeles courtroom. The actor and musician won $23.2 million in profits from the producers of the 1990's television show "Nash Bridges." The jury agreed with Johnson's argument that he owned half of the series and found that they had failed to pay him his share of the profits. The three defendants, Rysher, a production company, chief among them, unsuccessfully argued that the show had yet to make a profit.
According to questioning and testimony at trial, the $23 million is coming at an excellent time, as Johnson may have been in financial trouble prior to the victory. Johnson, 60, testified that after becoming a star on "Miami Vice," as Sonny Crockett, he negotiated a highly favorable contract on "Nash Bridges" where he retained half of the copyright to the show. "I wanted to own the copyright ... the copyright protected me and my rights as an artist. And my economic upside," Johnson said.
Bart Williams, attorney for the production company, Rysher, argued that because of the high paid actors, stunts, car chases, extras and San Francisco location, the show was extremely expensive and may never make a profit.
The Montreal Gazette reported on a humorous exchange between Johnson on the stand and his attorney. Johnson continuously mentioned, over repeated objections from Williams, how he started off as a Missouri "farm boy" and became and international sensation, star of "Miami Vice," and Hollywood A-lister.
"Do you still dress like the guy on the car?" his attorney asked, while displaying a picture of Johnson from the 90's.
"No, I think I burned all of those," Johnson replied.
The attorney who crafted Johnson's "Nash Bridges" contract testified that he landed Johnson an incredible deal, calling it a "one-of-a-kind deal in Hollywood."
Williams, attorney for Rysher, said he respected the decision of the jury but plans to appeal the decision. Johnson could receive continuing money over the coming years from the verdict.