KCET production partner Eyetronics struggling, Los Angeles Times reports

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Eyetronics Media & Studios, which last year announced a $50 million production deal with KCET in Los Angeles, “has been reduced to a tiny operation that has been late on some of its bills,” the Los Angeles Times is reporting. Four people who worked for the Encino, Calif.-based firm told the newspaper that they and others had gone without pay for as long as six weeks during the last year. And a representative for the landlord said owner Dominique Bigle owes several months’ back rent. Bigle’s attorney denied some of the claims to the newspaper, saying that employees “have been fully compensated,” that Eyetronics is “unaware of any ongoing disputes or claims” and that any rent owed is due to the landlord’s failure to properly maintain the building and provide security.

Current reported in August 2011 that the production deal was for at least five original series. So far one, the retro Classic Cool Theater, has made it to air; Bigle had told Current the show was based on titles from his own extensive film library of some 3,000 titles including historical footage, newsreels, old serials, documentaries and TV movies. But three people familiar with Eyetronics told the Times that parts of Classic Cool episodes have simply been “ripped” from DVDs the company bought from sources like Amazon.

KCET Board Chair Channing D. Johnson told the Times that “the financial status of Eyetronics is not relevant to KCET, period. As long as Dominique Bigle delivers the content he has indicated that he will, then we are fine.” He added that Bigle “is not a crucial part of the KCET business plan. He is one content provider. He is the icing on the cake, not crucial to the cake.”