Empire creator and Philadelphia native Lee Daniels is facing a $5 million lawsuit filed by Roc-a-Fella Records co-founder Damon Dash, who warned the director about the suit in a tense confrontation at a Diana Ross concert last week.
According to the lawsuit, Daniels promised to give Dash an executive producer credit for a now-defunct biopic about comedian Richard Pryor, as well as five percent of the director's backend profits off the film. Daniels reportedly left the project, and failed to provide Dash credits or backend profits.
In a video of the confrontation at Ross' Hollywood Bowl concert in Los Angeles last week, Dash claimed he loaned Daniels $2 million, and pushed him to make good on their alleged agreement. During the incident, Dash also told Daniels that his legal representation was "about to issue another lawsuit," and added that he would be "going public about it."
"As a black man, I gave you money that you needed, so how you not going to give me my money? $2 million bro, that's like working capital," Dash says to Daniels as Ross spoke to the audience off camera, adding that he wanted Daniels to "tell all these people how you wronged me."
Daniels offered to give Dash his phone number to "have a discussion," and promised that he would get the Roc-a-Fella co-founder the money he claims to be owed. He did not deny Dash's allegations in the clip, and offered him an executive producer credit on an upcoming Billie Holiday biopic.
"I know I'm wrong," Daniels said in the video.
Dash later reposted the video of the confrontation on his Instagram page, where he detailed the incident in a caption. As Dash wrote, he loaned Daniels the money "to pay for his dream of being a director," and Daniels agreed to pay back the $2 million in "months." Dash, however, alleges that Daniels went "missing so he doesn't have to pay me" before returning to the public eye with projects like The Butler and Empire.
"Why does this dude feel like he doesn't have to pay me?" Dash wrote. "Why do I have to look crazy to get my money back…or go to court."
Previously, Dash sued Daniels in 2014 over an alleged unpaid loan, with that case being settled in 2015. Dash's new suit stems from the 2015 agreement, which he claims Daniels did not honor.
Dash's lawsuit is the latest drama for Daniels. In 2015, actress Mo'Nique claimed Daniels "blackballed" her over her attitude during the awards season following the release of the director's Precious in 2009, which Daniels later denied.
In 2016, actor Sean Penn sued Daniels for $10 million after the director alluded to rumors that Penn had abused Madonna during their marriage in the 1980s while discussing similar allegations against Empire star Terrence Howard, a Lafayette Hill resident. Penn and Daniels settled their suit that same year, which required Daniels to issue a public apology and make a charitable donation.