Terrence Howard’s role on Empire was in severe jeopardy, a lawsuit filed today by the actor’s former talent management alleges. With such revelations of his standing on the show now public, the Hustle and Flow actor now finds himself on the other end of an action from Authentic Talent and Literary Management over commission funds the company claims it is owned from the second season of Fox’s blockbuster series and years to come.
Funds Authentic clearly says it is due in part because in the course of its duties, “plaintiff intervened with the Los Angeles-based executives of Imagine and effectively saved Howard ‘s job on Empire by convincing those executives not to terminate Howard from the show.” No further info is provided as to when and how Howard’s role of hip-hop mogul Lucious Lyon was under threat — but it certainly presents a shot across the bow if the actor wants to take this further in the courts.
Fox had no comment on the matter, and Howard’s agency CAA did not respond for requests for comment.
The jury-trial-seeking breach of contract complaint filed today in L.A. Superior Court (read it here) against Howard and his loan-out company is a far-too-frequent Hollywood tale of a talent leaving an agent or manager behind and not handing over contractually obliged commissions; that detail certainly stands out.
Seeking a court order to enforce the payment of commissions, Authentic alleges it is owed $250,000 as of right now and more of its 10% over the seven-season contract Howard has with the series. It also says that since the Howard parted ways with Authentic in September 2014 after signing in summer 2013, it did receive payments for a while but nothing since March.
“Plaintiff has made repeated efforts to obtain payment from Howard and has been quite patient with and respectful of him,” Authentic says against its former client, who cut ties about four months before Empire debuted to huge ratings. “Unfortunately, Plaintiff s patience and respect has been unrequited. Accordingly, Plaintiff has been forced to bring this action for substantial monetary damages and other relief.”
With the likes of Brie Larson and her Kong: Skull Island co-star Tom Hiddleston, Power’s Lucy Walters and Empire’s Gabourey Sidibe among its clients, Authentic also is seeking general, special and consequential damages, quantum meruit and unjust enrichment as well as a full accounting.
“Since making one late payment in March, 2016 (relating just to the first few shows of Season 2), Howard has without justification failed and refused to pay Plaintiff any further post-termination commissions,” says Authentic, which is represented by attorney Matthew Rosengart. “He has failed to do so despite having received millions of dollars from Empire and despite being in a position to receive millions more.”
The suit also says that Howard explicitly promised in an email of September 8, 2014, to pay the required commission “until the end of Terrence’s present contract with Empire.” The complaint adds, “Howard well knows, and has conceded, that his contract and long-established industry practice require him to pay Plaintiff commissions on an ongoing basis through the duration of his seven-year Empire contract.”
Empire‘s second season ended on May 18, with Season 3 set to premiere on September 21. If past such cases are any indication and Howard’s bankroll is as thick as Authentic says, there’s a good chance this all could be sorted not long after that debut.