Many Ohio residents are likely to have been fans of the hit T.V. show “Friends.” Although the show ended in 2004, the actors on the show continue to earn money for residuals when the show earns money from sales, projects or reruns. In 2008, actress Lisa Kudrow, who played Phoebe on the show, was sued by her former manager for $50,000 in fees from residuals. The lawsuit recently ended with a verdict in favor of the manager for $1.6 million for past and future economic losses.
Kudrow did not dispute that she and her ex-manager had made an oral contract, which ended in 2007. The oral contract provided that the manager would receive 10 percent of whatever Kudrow earned in income while he was her manager. Kudrow’s ex-manager alleged that Kudrow was in breach of contract for not paying him a percentage of her residuals earned.
Kudrow says that she owed no obligation to her manager after their professional relationship ended. In theory, a manager is in charge of an actor’s career, while an agent is the person who cuts a deal for the actor. An agent would be entitled to everything coming from a television deal, while a manager would not. The problem is that nowadays, managers and agents are often one and the same.
Kudrow is appealing the jury’s verdict, which the manager’s attorney estimates will take two years. The plaintiff’s attorney says that if the appellate court upholds the jury’s verdict, Kudrow will need to pay her former manager 10 percent of interest accumulated while awaiting the appellate process, or $16,000 per month. Contrary to what some people may believe, oral contracts may be enforceable. The main issue in Kudrow’s case is whether the language of the contract provided that Kudrow’s manager was also operating in the capacity of agent. Individuals who have concerns about a potential business dispute may want to consult a business litigation attorney.
Source: ABC, “‘Friends’ Star Lisa Kudrow Loses $1.6 Million Lawsuit“, Michael Rothman, February 26, 2014