In a civil suit filed June 17 in Los Angeles Superior Court, Tatyana Ali (Fresh Prince of Bel Air) and her sister Anastasia Ali are suing Julian Breece, the director of their web series Buppies over a reported $45,000 they invested in the show. The fraud claim states that Breece’s company, Game Theory Films, lost the money before ever producing more than a pilot for the series. Also, according to a report by TMZ, the sisters are seeking rights to the project which apparently were promised but never delivered.
The series was announced back in October, in what was said to be a partnership between Breece and the Ali sisters’ HazraH Entertainment. Breece and Tatyana were college friends at Harvard and had been working on putting together the project for several years.
In a MySpace post last fall, Tatyana talked about the project and the choice to take the young adult drama to the web:
This is a project that has been three years in the making. The writer/director Julian Breece is a college friend who shared the idea with me about three years ago. Putting a project like this onto the TV air space was difficult. It’s a very different kind of show, a comedy/ drama that talks about everything from life and love, fashion, sexual orientation, pregnancy… basically all the things young adults are really going through.
My sister Anastasia Ali and I started a production company about a year and a half ago with the purpose of making high end urban content. BUPPIES made alongside friend and producer Aaliyah Williams is our company’s first effort. With the advent of the webseries and the recent lack of African American original programing on TV these days we thought the series would really be well suited for internet broadcast. (Tatyana Ali)
Where it gets interesting, and perhaps what prompted the suit, is that the show has been picked up by BET for online distribution. A “coming soon” page at BET is all that is currently up on site. We placed a call to BET for further comment that was not yet returned.
From the looks of it, the Ali sisters may have been cut out of the BET deal, though it’s not clear how much of the series is even shot. Video from the pilot for Buppies is embedded above. The next hearing for the case isn’t scheduled until October 5, 2009.