To paraphrase Dee Snider and Twisted Sister, Lenhoff & Lenhoff isn’t going to take it anymore. In an antitrust lawsuit filed last week in federal court, the West Hollywood-based boutique agency is going after UTA and ICM Partners for “poaching” clients with “robo-dialing” and promises of lucrative package deals.
Seeking a variety of financial damages, the wide-ranging, 26-page, jury-demanding filing of February 13 also desires “a permanent injunction prohibiting Defendants UTA and ICM from the predatory practice of client poaching from any and all talent agencies that represent television clients” (read it here).
ICM had no comment today on the lawsuit, but UTA bluntly did. “This complaint is utterly without merit,” an agency spokesman said Wednesday in response to the claims of a conspiracy of the “Uber Agencies” hustling in the way Hollywood agencies have done for ages. Still, supposedly having lost two clients recently due to such poaching, the 18-year-old and self-proclaimed 30-client-strong company founded by Charles and Lisa Lenhoff has said it has to stop, though the claims of laws being broken seem more anecdotal than empirical.
“These ‘Uber Agencies’ stockpile talent, as well as exercise control over the development, production, financing, distribution, advertising, and even the technology for content delivery to the consumer, they have morphed into, Plaintiff alleges, producers and de-facto employers,” says the complaint, with claims of Sherman Act violations and more. “Plaintiff alleges that Defendants’ conduct has caused an antitrust injury, i.e., harm to the competitive process, itself, and has caused damage to Plaintiff and has deprived Plaintiff of fair competition in the market for Plaintiff s services as a television agent,” it adds. After a couple of clients received calls from UTA and ICM during the past few years, L&L told the agencies to back off. According to the filing, UTA at least said it would but didn’t, and L&L lost at least one client to UTA later on – supposedly lured by the commission-saving lure of a “package.”
Philip J. Kaplan of the Wilshire Boulevard-based Law Offices of Philip J. Kaplan represents Lenhoff & Lenhoff in the action. The matter has been assigned to District Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell and Magistrate Judge Frederick F. Mumm.