Los Angeles, CA (Law Firm Newswire) July 14, 2011 – Oral agreements can wreak havoc in Hollywood. An agreement by handshake or over lunch can still be a valid contract and enforced by a court. Two recent lawsuits prove that the oral agreement is still alive, but not necessarily well, in Hollywood.
In Richard Davis and Trademark Properties v. A&E Television Networks, Davis developed the idea of “Flip This House” and A&E orally agreed to divide the show profits 50-50 with him. During their meeting Davis and Charles Nordlander, director of lifestyle programming for the station, negotiated many facets of the show, including pay. After most items were agreed to, Nordlander said, “OK, OK, I get it.” After the pilot and 13 episodes, Davis left the show for a competitor. At trial and the appeal proceedings, both courts affirmed that an oral agreement was entered into and awarded Davis $4 million. The “OK, OK, I get it” was enough to seal in the jurors minds that an agreement had been made, even though it was never written down.
“There is nothing like a signed agreement,” says Los Angeles entertainment attorney Anthony Spotora. “At a minimum you should follow up a discussion and agreement with a confirming email or get your attorney to draft an agreement that is sent for all parties to sign. This case shows that you never know when this backup documentation will come in handy and can save you tons of time, stress and money.”
Another home and design show is under fire for oral agreements gone awry. Talent manager Lance Reynolds, his company Atlantic Talent Management, and Atlantic Films and Television, is suing Jamie Durie, the host of HGTV’s “The Outdoor Room”. Reynolds alleges the two made an oral agreement that Atlantic Films and Television would have 51 percent ownership stake in the popular show. In 2008, Reynolds was made an executive producer of the show and earned a program fee “on a favored nations basis with all other executive producers” after the two had a business dispute. Reynolds alleges after 39 shows, Durie has been well paid and owes him money.
“In oral agreements, courts will try to find any witnesses who might have heard the terms of the agreement, or if the parties have actions, evidence, or exhibit certain conduct to show that it was in existence,” Spotora said. “But you truly owe it to yourself to get your future earnings in writing.”
The Law Offices of Spotora & Associates has more than a decade of experience working with celebrities, producers, studios, agencies, managers, and networks in every genre of the Hollywood television and movie industry. They are known for their hands-on approach and senior-level counsel that is unparalleled by other firms.
Law Offices of Spotora & Associates, P.C.
1801 Century Park East, 24th Floor
Los Angeles, California 90067-2302
Call: (310) 556.9641