Original "Fab Five" member sues 'Queer Eye' for breach of contract
By Wade Paulsen, 09/03/2003
Pete Best, meet Blair Boone ... and then make room for his lawyers. The New York Post reports that Boone, who (like original Beatles drummer Best) was dumped on the brink of stardom, is suing the producers of Bravo's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy for $105,000 for breach of contract.
Blair Boone was originally cast as the "culture guy" in Queer Eye, and he appeared in the first two episodes. However, after the second episode, the producers canned him in favor of Jai Rodriguez, and the resulting "Fab Five" (Rodriguez, Carson Kressley, Kyan Douglas, Ted Allen and Thom Filicia) became the hottest sensation of the summer TV season, recently signing a book deal calling for a $1 million advance.
Like Best, who was replaced in the "Fab Four" by Ringo Starr after recording the original version of the Beatles' first single, "Love Me Do," Boone finds himself on the outside dreaming of what might have been. Unlike Best, though, Boone is engaging in an all-American way to get even: suing.
However, neither Boone nor his lawyer discuss whether the producers had the right to replace Boone -- which is, of course, the legal crux of any breach-of-contract suit. Call us cynical, but we presume that this key issue is not addressed because the contractual language is unfavorable to their case.
Boone, who claims to have quit his full-time job as an ad manager and writer at Metrosource Magazine to accept the part on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, was paid $3,000 per episode for the two episodes that he performed in before his firing. He is seeking damages from Queer Eye LLC, the show's producers, equal to that $3,000 per episode times what his lawyer terms a "full production year" of 35 episodes (which seems like an extended production year ... or two years ... of episodes to us), or $105,000.
Boone's lawyer says that Queer Eye offered Boone "a little bit" of cash to get him to go away, but that Boone wants more. We note that Boone seems to be making more of a case for detrimental reliance -- an equitable argument rooted in concepts of fairness -- that for breach of contract -- a legal argument dependent on the terms of the contract. Perhaps that's why Boone's lawyer decided to go public: in the hope that the Queer Eye producers would raise their offer to squelch Boone's claims of unfair treatment.
Interestingly, Boone doesn't dispute that the producers "had a different idea with what they wanted to do with the 'culture guy.'" Thus, he doesn't disagree that Jai Rodriguez contributes something different to the show than he did. Instead, his real beef seems to be jealousy over the money (and, of course, the fame) that the Fab Five will realize from the book deal: "When I see the million-dollar book deal, I have to clench my teeth -- that's what I expected to see and be a part of."
We expect that Boone will be doing more teeth-clenching before Queer Eye runs its course. We hope he has a good dentist.