ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 5.11 - FEBRUARY 2001
Heroes Wanted: Stan Lee Media Struggles to Stay Afloat
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7th Portal's Conjure Man, a character whose magical powers, telekinesis and empathetic abilities, ensures the popularity of Stan Lee Media's Webseries. © Stan Lee Media.
A Slight Hope?
While Rick Madden, Stan Lee Media's general counsel, told Dow Jones Newswire that Paul's criminal past did "not directly" contribute to his termination, Williams stated that Paul was "very definitely [fired] for cause," and is "certainly a target" of the company's internal investigation.
It is particularly important that the company claims the dismissal of Paul was "for cause." A March 2000 SEC filing made by the company states that if Paraversal, the company through which Paul provided consulting services to Stan Lee Media, was terminated for "any reason other than for cause or for death and disability, Paraversal will be entitled to a lump sum payment of $1,000,000."
Paul's employment agreement with Stan Lee Media defines "cause" as "(a) willful and repeated failure to comply with the lawful directions of the Board of Directors; (b) gross negligence or willful misconduct in the performance of Consultant's duties to the Company; or (c) conviction of any act of fraud against, or misappropriation of material property belonging to the Company, conviction of any criminal statute constituting a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude or conviction of a felony, chronic alcoholism or drug addiction."
Stan Lee amongst the many characters he has created. © Stan Lee Media.
Stan Lee Media was just beginning to develop a core audience when the strange events of November and December 2000 pulled the plug. The popularity of its 7th Portal franchise earned the company a movie deal and a promising 3-D amusement park ride. Unless favorable financing is secured, Stan Lee Media's ambitious plan to use the Internet as a springboard for its creations into the more profitable areas of licensing and merchandising will remain untested.
Williams, speaking by telephone with AWN, says there are still "good prospects" for his company and that he and the remaining core executive group, "continue to actively pursue" deals to resurrect the company. Beyond that, Williams declined to comment, citing the sensitive nature of his company's efforts to emerge from recent events.
In the coming months, while the rest of the online animation industry watches events unfold with intense interest, we'll find out if there will be any new adventures for Stan Lee Media, or if the last panel of this Lee creation has already been inked with a final "The End."
Brett Rogers is a freelance writer and law student based in Baltimore.
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