The California Supreme Court has upheld a decision awarding commissions to a Hollywood talent manager, capping a dispute over the role that managers can play in soliciting work.
The court ruled that even if managers sometimes act as agents in the early stages of their clients' careers, that should not void their contracts and the managers should still be entitled to commissions later.
The case centered on the 1978 Talent Agencies Act, which states that personal managers are prohibited from soliciting work for artists they represent. While managers may provide general career guidance, only talent agencies can procure specific jobs.
In 1998, actress Rosa Blasi hired Marathon Entertainment, an artistic management firm. After she fired Marathon, the company sued her for unpaid commissions. The commissions weren't paid because Blasi claimed the contract was void, due to Marathon having acted as her agent in the past.
Marathon admitted that on a few occasions it had illegally solicited jobs for the actress, but claimed that the contract should not be voided as a result.
Michael Plonsker, the attorney representing Blasi, said the ruling would cause confusion in the industry.
"The issues the court decided are going to affect the entire agency-personal manager-talent relationship, because they apply to all situations where unlicensed parties solicit work for an artist," said Plonsker, an attorney at Dreier Stein & Kahan.
A unanimous decision by the high court found that the management firm deserves payment for its lawful work, but remanded the case back to the Labor Commission to determine the amount.
According to Marathon President Rick Siegel, "this is a major victory, not only for Marathon, but for all personal managers."
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