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October 24, 2014

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In a harshly worded lawsuit, Lightman seeks ‘amicable’ resolution with Donny & Marie

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Larry Cruikshank / Special to the Home News

Marie Osmond and Donny Osmond perform at the Children’s Miracle Network Mardi Gras Ball in the Bellagio Ballroom in February 2009.

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Chip Lightman and Danny Gans.

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Kym Johnson and Donny Osmond on Dancing With the Stars.

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Marie Osmond on the red carpet of the 37th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards at the Las Vegas Hilton on June 27, 2010.

In a statement delivered to the media, Chip Lightman says he wants this issue settled "amicably."

It's a noble objective. Noble, but improbable, when you consider what Lightman says elsewhere.

In a lawsuit filed Friday in Clark County District Court, the Las Vegas law firm representing Lightman, Pisanelli Bice PLLC, describes Donny Osmond as "underhanded, devious, fraudulent and greedy."

How amicability finds its way into that barbed character assessment of Donny Osmond is yet to be determined, but at the moment one of the most successful partnerships on the Strip has fallen apart like a $12 suit.

On Friday, Lightman followed through with his tweeted threat to file a breach-of-contract lawsuit against Donny and Marie Osmond. Thus, Lightman is entering into a legal and public-relations battle against the most famous members of one of the most beloved families in the history of American show business.

So it is something of a big deal.

At issue is the abrupt dismissal, just two weeks ago, of Lightman as the producer of the Donny & Marie show at Flamingo Las Vegas. Lightman claims that the Osmond siblings are in breach of a renewed contract that Lightman says extended his role as producer of the show through Oct. 15, 2012. He also claims breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, unjust enrichment and fraud and defamation, among other things.

With the 23-page complaint attached, Lightman issued his statement Wednesday afternoon in an e-mail sent by Las Vegas publicist Laura Herlovich. It reads: "At this time the claim will speak for itself. I am hopeful and optimistic that an amicable resolution will come quickly to this unfortunate situation I never wanted to find myself in."

Later, during a phone conversation, Lightman did elaborate that he was "very hurt" by the actions of Donny Osmond in particular (Lightman says he has heard nothing from Marie). He added that if the duo would pay him a fair amount as a settlement, everyone could put the mess at rest and get on with their lives. Amicably, even.

Lightman didn't offer what that magic number would be, but the complaint does make it clear the Osmonds are well-funded. They are paid a base salary of $1,625,000 apiece and receive and 40 percent of the gross box office receipts from the Flamingo show over $250,000. Donny is also afforded limousine service, and a two-bedroom suite at the hotel that he jokes onstage is located right behind Marie's teeth.

Marie Osmond also receives perks, including a $10,000 per-month housing allowance for her home in Henderson. But none of this financial disclosure is to claim the Osmonds aren't worth all those USDs. Their show has been one of the more successful on the Strip since it opened two years ago, consistently filling the Vegas-throwback Flamingo Showroom without (as Lightman notes) lopping tickets prices to draw an audience.

During the Osmonds' rebirth, both have appeared on "Dancing With the Stars" (with Donny winning the show's championship with partner Kym Johnson) and have collaborated a new CD. Marie Osmond also has cut a solo CD, and Donny has his own syndicated radio show, all of which transpired during their run at the Flamingo. Lightman takes ample credit for the revival, and it seemed up until very recently that the Donny & Marie show was gleefully soaring along almost on autopilot.

Not anymore. With his company, Chip Lightman Entertainment, listed as the plaintiff in the complaint, Lightman decries what is depicted as Donny Osmond's appetite for the finer things in life: "The clear goal of his actions has been to line his own pockets with ill-gotten gains to fund his lavish lifestyle of exotic cars, luxury hotel suites, and private jets — all off the backs and hard work of those who worked tirelessly to support his career, including Lightman and CLE."

Of course, fancy cars are nothing new among Lightman's clients; the late Danny Gans left behind a gleaming vintage and exotic auto and motorcycle collection that merited its own showcase at this year's Barrett-Jackson auction at Mandalay Bay. Another aside: Donny Osmond is scheduled to appear as the host of "The Danny Gans Memorial Champions Run for Life Hosted by Donny Osmond" Nevada Childhood Foundation charity event, which will take place Saturday at Paseo Verde Park in Henderson. It was Gans, with Lightman, who helped broker the deal that brought Donny & Marie to the Flamingo in the first place.

For this legal action, Lightman has hired one of the top business litigation firms in Las Vegas. Over the years, James Pisanelli and Todd Bice have represented some of the largest companies in town, including MGM Resorts International, Wynn Resorts Ltd., Station Casinos Inc., and Harrah's Entertainment Inc. — which happens to own the Flamingo, which happens to be the stage for this high-profile scuffle.

The Osmonds have retained business litigation specialist Howard King of Los Angeles. Court records Wednesday indicated the Osmonds have not yet responded to the complaint, which isn't unusual given it was filed less than a week ago (efforts to reach Donny and Marie through representatives have been unsuccessful).

As noted earlier, Lightman telegraphed his Friday haymaker in his Twitter account. He subsequently sent another update, tweeting that he had been approached by parties interested in him writing a "tell-all" book about the Osmonds.

Lightman clarified Wednesday that he would consider that option only as a way to pay his legal bills, and a raking of Donny and Marie in print was such a remote possibility that Lightman actually deleted the tweet while on the phone.

It is but one step toward amicability.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats.

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