Damon Dash vs. Lee Daniels: Inside the $5 Million Battle Over a Richard Pryor Biopic
Don’t cross Damon Dash.
Damon Dash, the onetime music mogul and co-founder of Roc-a-Fella records (along with Jay-Z and Kareem “Biggs” Burke) confronted filmmaker Lee Daniels of Precious and Empire fame at a Diana Ross concert last weekend in Los Angeles.
The confrontation was allegedly in regards to the cool $5 million that Dash is seeking from Daniels in a new lawsuit, according to TMZ and The Blast. The lawsuit claims that Daniels promised Dash an executive producer credit for a Richard Pryor biopic and 5 percent of Daniels’ backend profits; Daniels later allegedly abandoned the project and his promises to Dash.
In a video of the confrontation, Dash presses Daniels about how he plans to handle the situation, before revealing that he’s about to issue a lawsuit and will go public with it.
“As a black man, I gave you money that you needed, so how you not gonna give me my money?” an enraged Dash asks Daniels. “Two million dollars, bro, that’s like working capital!” With Diana Ross talking to the audience in the background, Dash urges Daniels to “tell all these people how you wronged me.” An obviously flustered Daniels tells Dash he’ll give him his phone number and they’ll “have a discussion,” later promising that he’ll get Dash the money he’s owed. “You never had to struggle,” Dash shouts at Daniels moments before the video cuts off.
Dash later reposted a shortened version of the video clip on Instagram, along with a lengthy caption detailing the incident. Dash claims that he loaned Daniels “2 million to pay for his dream of being a director,” explaining that Daniels promised him the money back in “months,” but then went off the radar for a while before returning to make The Butler and subsequently Empire, all without repaying Dash. Now, Dash is seeking $5 million in his recently filed lawsuit.
“Why do I have to look crazy to get my money back... or go to court?” Dash asks in his Instagram caption. “See you back in court Lee your [sic] gonna pay me what you owe.”
This isn’t the first time Daniels has been named in a lawsuit. Sean Penn previously sued the director for $10 million in a defamation suit after Daniels, while defending Empire actor Terrence Howard in an interview, alluded to the rumors of domestic abuse that Penn faced while married to Madonna. Penn and Daniels later made up after nearly nine months of back and forth.