UPDATED, April 10, 8:06 PM: On the eve of a scheduled motions hearing in New Girl star Zooey Deschanel’s legal fight with her former managers, the two sides have reached a settlement, Deadline has confirmed. No details of the deal were made public, but the case finally appeared to be headed to trial just two months ago. Delayed several times, a trial in the matter had been set to start in July.
With timing being everything in Hollywood, this burying of the hatchet in the over two year long legal battle over unpaid commissions between Deschanel and Seven Summits Pictures & Management comes as New Girl kicked off its seventh and final season tonight on Fox.
PREVIOUSLY, February 9: Just over two years after Seven Summits Pictures & Management took former client Zooey Deschanel to court over unpaid commissions and more, the case is finally headed to trial, perhaps.
While a March 27 start date is still on the calendar, in a hearing today a Los Angeles Superior judge cast doubts on the New Girl actor’s contention that Seven Summits and her then manager Sarah Jackson injured Deschanel’s career with their advice.
“There certainly could be a case where a decision to advise an actress to switch agencies could cause damages,” wrote Judge Michael Raphel in a tentative ruling on a summary adjudication motion from Seven Summits on Deschanel’s counterclaim. “But here, based on the record, cross-defendants meet their initial burden by proffering evidence that factors beyond their control (not least of which was Deschanel’s own availability) rendered Deschanel’s 2013 hiatus employment prospects thin and this accounted for the lack of a role-not the agency switch. Deschanel does not meet her responsive burden of proffering evidence that could establish a genuine dispute as to these facts,” the judge added.
With a cameo by Harvey Weinstein, who seemingly did not agree to cast Deschanel in 2014’s St. Vincent with Bill Murray, and that emphasis on The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy star having very limited availability due to touring during a break from New Girl to take on new role, the yet to be formally adopted tentative left the actor looking like the master of her own cinematic destiny not the management company.
Hence, with the tentative also having granted most of Seven Summit’s motion, this now leaves Deschanel having to regain traction on her fiduciary duty counterclaim. “This claim does not sound in fiduciary duty,” noted Judge Raphel. “Rather, it is merely another aspect of the parties’ contract dispute.”
Having lost Deschanel as a client in 2013, Seven Summits aren’t just seeking their 10% from Golden Globe nominated actor over the soon to end Fox comedy, but also a piece of a Tommy Hilfiger ad campaign and the $30 million sale of her Hello Giggles website in the fall of 2015 to Time Inc. Needless to say, the She & Him singer who moved from CAA to UTA in 2013 and back and then back again when her agent jumped ship, hasn’t been too inclined to make the ad campaign and the internet windfall part of the package. In fact, when Seven Summits started asking for some of the Hello Giggles dough is when the Trolls actor stopped paying her New Girl commission to them.
Which is, once Seven Summits filed for wide ranging but unspecified damages in a breach of written contract complaint on December 16, 2015 is what eventually got us here after accusations, motions, cross complaints, amended complaints and more.
With the Marty Singer repped Deschanel and her ex-managers locked in mutual suits, the next step will be if this actually heads to trial next month – or goes on and on beyond the debut of the seventh and final season of New Girl on April 10.