UPDATE, 11:30 AM: Former LA Film Critics Association member Len Klady says he was blindsided by his expulsion from the group after he and the org’s leaders reached a mutual settlement agreement over the sponsorship snafu. He personally matched LAFCA’s $1K payout to sponsorship consultant Sheri Wish, thinking that would put the matter to rest. “It was a misunderstanding as a result of a contract for service,” Klady told me. “When the service was not provided, rather than drag it through the court system we settled it. I offered to settle the entire thing myself and I was told they didn’t want to do that. I paid $1K and the organization paid $1K.” Klady says he was never made aware of the closed-door meeting where the vote over his expulsion was held, nor given a chance to defend his membership.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, WEDNESDAY 5:55 PM: The LA Film Critics Association today made the booting of member Len Klady official after months of behind-the-scenes deliberations over a major financial snafu attributed to the author and film critic. Klady, a longtime member of the LA critics group, was expelled over an unauthorized agreement he’d made on behalf of LAFCA to third-party consultant Sheri Wish, who was contracted for $3,000 to bring in sponsorships for LAFCA’s annual awards dinner last January. Wish failed to deliver any sponsorships at all. Worse, LAFCA President Stephen Farber and other executive members had no prior knowledge of Wish’s contract or that Klady had tapped her to bring in sponsorships. When she invoiced, Farber refused to pay the $3,000, and Wish hit back with a small claims lawsuit against the org for the sum.
Thirty LAFCA members attended a closed-door meeting March 22 to address the matter, voting in favor of dipping into LAFCA’s funds to settle with Wish before the suit was brought to court, paying $1,000 of her requested fee. They also voted to strip Klady of his membership, as recommended by the executive board and the membership committee. According to Farber’s letter to LAFCA members, there was enough in the organization’s coffers from last year’s dinner — where studios typically pay for tables and bring in talent to accept their awards — to cover the settlement payout.
“There was no malfeasance,” Klady told Deadline. “I was working in my role as the chairman of the awards committee, and the person who I engaged was recommended by a reputable person in the industry.”
LAFCA issued an official statement on the Klady beef today: “Following a vote of its executive and membership committees, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association removed Leonard Klady from its membership because he entered into an unauthorized business arrangement with a vendor without the knowledge or approval of the organization. Klady is eligible to re-apply for membership at a later date.”
Here is Farber’s letter to the LAFCA membership:
Happy April. I want to provide an update on our legal troubles for those of you who were at our meeting on March 22 and for those who were not.
First of all, thanks to everyone who attended the meeting. We had 30 people there, which was a great turnout for a spring meeting, and we had a frank and rewarding discussion. The group authorized a payment of up to $1000 to settle the lawsuit with Sheri Wish. We did end up paying her $1000 and settling the case. The negotiations with Ms. Wish were somewhat more complicated than anticipated, but our “in-house” legal consultant, Myron Meisel, did an outstanding job of negotiating among all the parties. We managed to settle all the claims just one day before our scheduled court appearance. Fortunately, because of a successful dinner this year, we had the funds to pay this settlement and still have a balance left in our treasury.
At the March 22 meeting, the group also voted overwhelmingly to follow the recommendation of the executive board and the membership committee to expel Len Klady because of the unauthorized actions he took that got us into this legal morass in the first place. It was a painful decision to make, especially because people recognized Len’s contributions to our awards dinner over the years. But the group was very unified in taking this action.
We now will be able to move forward to normal LAFCA business, including planning our next awards dinner with a new committee. Our regular summer meeting will be in approximately two months, and I will have more information on that when we get closer. In the meantime, I very much appreciate the support of the membership during a difficult time. Onward!
All the best,