TV Commentator Horowitz Takes on One-Time Partners

by Amanda Bronstad

Political commentator David Horowitz, claiming he was forced out of a television production company he helped create, has sued two former partners for $1 million.

Horowitz, president of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, sued Lionel Chetwynd, the writer of "National Desk," and Norman Powell, vice president of Whidbey Island Films Inc., formed in 1993 to produce "National Desk," Horowitz's conservative TV show. In the suit, Horowitz claims his two former partners defrauded him of wages and the success of his TV show.

"The two men I'm suing paid themselves in excess of $500,000 each, whereas I had created this company and conceived it and funded it and I have to this day not received one penny," Horowitz said.

"National Desk," a conservatively oriented program, aired on the Public Broadcasting Service from 1997 to 2000.

In his suit, filed July 19 in Los Angeles Superior Court, Horowitz formed Whidbey with Chetwynd and two others. He claims to have raised $300,000 of the $1.6 million for the initial four-part series in 1994.

Horowitz claims Chetwynd and Powell forced him out of Whidbey after he pushed PBS to fund an additional 18 shows. Horowitz claims Chetwynd said he could return to Whidbey when the environment was more favorable.

Instead, the suit claims, Chetwynd cut a deal in 2000 to end "National Desk" and replace it with his own drama series.

Mark Brifman, the Mission Hills attorney representing Chetwynd, Powell and Whidbey Island Films, said he has not been served with the lawsuit and declined comment.

New Ride

The former vice president of legal and business affairs at Universal Studios has left after five years to head a newly formed entertainment practice group at Lord Bissell & Brook.

Arnold Peter, who managed a 12-person legal department responsible for theme park business and resorts, was at Universal during its expansion of Universal Studios Hollywood's Citywalk, the development of a second theme park in Orlando and of Universal Studios in Japan.

"Right now there's no expansion and development, so my job was broken up and done by two or three people with different titles," he said.

Richter Loss

George Richter, name partner of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP, died July 14. He was 92.

Richter, with the firm for 68 years, was the last of the Los Angeles law firm's name partners.

Richter joined Mathes & Sheppard in 1933 but left for one year during the 1930s. He returned to Mathes & Sheppard in 1936 and became partner in 1941. The firm's name was changed to Sheppard Mullin & Richter in 1945.

"Many lawyers are persuasive by the volume of their voice. George won things by his intellect, by persuading people with logic," said Merrill Francis, an attorney at Sheppard Mullin.

Staff reporter Amanda Bronstad can be reached at (323) 549-5225 ext. 225, or at

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