Judge Calls Actor Behr’s Pact With Manager Valid
A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled that the former manager of actor Jason Behr still holds a valid contract and left it to another court to decide whether the UPN television star owes commissions.
However, in a ruling released Friday, Judge Julius M. Title did not resolve the broader legal issue of how far talent managers can go to land jobs for their clients.
Behr is among 50 actors over the last two years who have invoked the California Talent Agencies Act to try to sever ties with their managers. Managers and other unlicensed agents who violate the act must forfeit commissions.
Beher, 28, plays a teenage alien on the television series “Roswell.”
In his complaint, Beher claimed that he didn’t owe Dauer a 15% commission on his $20,000-an-episode salary because the former manager broke the law by arranging auditions.
The act says only licensed agents can procure work for clients. A loophole in the law, though, gives managers who work with an agent more leeway in negotiating contracts. But there is disagreement on what is permissible.
Behr had accused his longtime manager of arranging auditions for him on corn chip commercials, an NBC pilot about surfers in Hawaii and a low-budget movie about the first chimpanzees in space.
The case dates back to May 2000, when Dauer sued Behr for breach of contract, alleging the actor owed him commissions from the “Roswell” series.
But the actor filed a complaint with the California Labor Commissioner. In June, the commissioner determined that Dauer had violated the Talent Agencies Act by arranging auditions for Behr. Dauer was ordered by the commissioner to return more than $68,000 in commissions to the actor.
Dauer then appealed to Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Title ruled that the contract remained “a valid and enforceable agreement,” opening the door for Dauer to resume his breach-of-contract claim against Behr.
Title wrote that Behr did not prove that Dauer had acted illegally, and the judge lifted the stay in the breach-of-contract suit.
“I’m absolutely thrilled,” Dauer said Friday. “But someone has got to define what we as managers are legally allowed to do.”
“We’re shocked and disappointed,” said Behr’s attorney, Michael Garfinkel. “This dispute is not over with this ruling.”