Usually if you were to read that someone involved with the film Precious had a big problem with Lee Daniels, you’d probably immediately picture Mo’Nique squaring up in front of her iPhone camera to deliver a “Hey my loves” for the ages. But in this version of Who Is Coming For Lee Daniels Now, the star is his former friend and mogul/investor Damon Dash.
Yesterday, Damon posted a video of himself and Lee getting into an argument at a Diana Ross show at the Hollywood Bowl last week. Thanks to some handy captions on the video, you can tell that Damon and Lee are arguing over money. But to provide the missing context, Damon explained what happened.
According to Damon, he loaned his friend Lee $2 million to help fund his filmmaking career. Lee then went on to make Precious in 2009 for $10 million, which ended up making nearly $64 million worldwide. Lee didn’t pay Damon back after Precious’ success. He went on to make The Butler (which turned a profit of $146.6 million) and Empire. Again, Damon never saw his loan repaid.
I straight up loaned this dude Lee Daniels @theoriginalbigdaddy 2 million to pay for his dream of being a director…it was the money I was using to fund my movies and stay Indy…he promised I get my money back in months…then he makes precious and goes missing so he doesn’t have to pay me…then then Butler…empire…same shit Why does this dude feel like he doesn’t have to pay me?…why do I have to look crazy to get my money back…or go to court…ask @theoriginalbigdaddy why he doesn’t feel like he has to pay me even though he has it…what type of shit is this.. #paywhatyouowe I’m going to put this whole thing on my ig tv in a few… true definition of a culture vulture @culturevultures_book …eats off the culture but Robs the culture at the same time… see you back in court Lee your gonna pay me what you owe…please everyone ask him way he doesn’t think he has to pay me… @tmz_tv @vanlathan @theshaderoom @deadline @worldstar @voguemagazine @people @pagesix @oprah @halleberry
Deadline says Damon sued Lee for $5 million. Damon estimates that he’s owed no less than $5 million in damages. He also wants any producer rights or ownership credits he might be entitled to for helping to finance Lee’s films.
This isn’t the first time Damon and Lee have fought over money and creative ownership. In 2015, they reached a settlement after Damon sued Lee the first time for the $2 million loan. The loan was reportedly given around the time of Lee’s 2004 film The Woodsman. Lee promised Damon 50% of the rights to the film and a promise that his investment would be repaid. In 2015, Damon asked for $25 million. He didn’t get that much. Instead, Lee offered Damon 5% of the backend on a Richard Pryor biopic Lee was making with Oprah. But then both Lee and Oprah backed out of the Richard Pryor project a year later.
So that would be why Damon is suing Lee for fraud. Damon has accused Lee of renegotiating the terms of their agreement in bad faith. Lee hasn’t commented on Damon’s lawsuit, but sources tell Deadline that he plans on responding with a counter-suit to show what really happened behind-the-scenes.
I have no idea why Lee Daniels doesn’t just cut Damon Dash a check for the money he owes. As far as I was aware, Lee Daniels was very rich. But then again, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Lee is broke. At least that might explain why he was trying to pass off a cheap fire-retardant blanket stolen from the business class of an airplane as a shawl at that Diana Ross show.