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OWN Cancels 'Love Is' After Abuse Claims Surface

OWN cancelled the series Love Is_ after a woman accused co-creator Salim Akil of domestic violence during an extramarital affair in a lawsuit.

Sources told Variety that Warner Bros. Television finished an investigation, which found no allegations of misconduct against Akil during the making of Love Is_ and the other series he works on for the studio, The CW's Black Lightning.

While Akil will continue serving as the DC Comics show's showrunner, OWN cancelled Love Is_ because the revelation that Akil had an extramarital affair compromised the story. The series is based on his relationship with his wife and series co-creator, Mara Brock Akil.

According to Variety, pre-production already started on Love Is_ Season 2, since the show was renewed back in July.

In November, Amber Dixon Brenner sued Akil for breach of contract and alleged domestic violence. She claimed Akil was verbally, physically and sexually abusive during a 10-year romantic relationship that ended in 2017. Dixon Brenner accused him of forcing her to perform sex acts. She also accused Akil urinating in her mouth on one occasion, and taking pictures of her without her permission on another instance.

Akil sent a statement to Deadline through his attorney last month, denying Dixon Brener's claims.

“These allegations are deeply upsetting – but they are also totally untrue," attorney Stephen D. Barnes said. "We will defend Salim to the fullest against the false and offensive claims that a woman with whom he had a past relationship has included in multiple unsubstantiated lawsuits. Salim looks forward to clearing his name and to being able to focus on his work and his family.”

According to The Blast, Dixon Brenner also sued OWN and Brock Akil. She claimed she wrote a screenplay called Luv & Perversity in the East Village, which she said was the basis for Love Is_. Dixon Brenner's attorney told the site she chose to drop the suit against OWN to focus on just the lawsuit against Akil.

"In light of Salim Akil’s disappointing though predictable denial of his actions, Amber Dixon Brenner has decided to place all of her focus on the State Court lawsuit of Domestic Violence and Breach of Implied Contract," Dixon Brenner's attorney, Joseph Costa, told The Blast. "She is placing the Federal Copyright case on hold without prejudice to refile. It must be said that Amber is surprised and disappointed that The Oprah Winfrey Network not once has demonstrated to Amber any desire to inquire into her allegations in light of the bigger picture at hand, specifically the courage it takes for any victim of abuse and theft to shine light upon the truth. Amber looks forward to presenting the evidentiary substantiation of every single one of her claims in the State Court action against Defendant Salim Akil.”

Love Is_ was inspired by Akil and Brock Akil's relationship, with scenes set in the 1990s and in 2017. The cast included Michele Weaver, Will Catlett, Wendy Davis, Clarke Peters, Indra Victor, Tyrone Brown, Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing and Kadeem Hardison. The first season ran 10 episodes, from June to August.

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Brock Akil created the comedy The Game, which ran for nine season on The CW and BET. She also created Being Mary Jane and Girlfriends. Akil also worked on The Game, Girlfriends and Being Mary Jane and directed 2012's Sparkle.

Photo credit: OWN