November 20, 2013 5:33pm PT by Alex Ben Block
Geraldo Rivera Seeks Dismissal of WME Lawsuit
Geraldo Rivera has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought against him by the William Morris Endeavor talent agency, which claims it is owed commission of more than $1 million for work done on Fox News since 2010.
The civil suit brought by WME in September in the New York Supreme Court said the agency had represented Rivera for more than 25 years, "as he rose from news correspondent to a household name."
WME claimed that it negotiated Rivera’s deal with Fox News, which ran through 2011, but that he stopped paying them a 10 percent commission at the beginning of 2010, two years before the deal ended.
In a memorandum to support his motion and an accompanying affidavit, Rivera tells a very different story. He says that he was represented by Jim Griffin when he was at the William Morris Agency, but that when Griffin left the agency at the end of 2009, Rivera moved with him to another agency.
Rivera also says that he has not had a written contract with William Morris (which later became William Morris Endeavor) since 1997, and that his arrangement was always directly with Griffin.
Rivera says that after William Morris merged with Endeavor in April 2009, no one other than Griffin ever performed any services for him, nor would he allow any other agent to handle his affairs.
The motion also says that under New York’s Statute of Frauds, an oral or implied arrangement of the type WME claims was in existence is “unenforceable,” and that any agreement must be in writing to be valid.
Rivera says “WME provided no services to Rivera in connection with the Fox contracts that it seeks to commission.”
In telling his side, Rivera relates how he came to join Fox News. He says that after a year with ABC, he had moved to CNBC and NBC in about 1998. When the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks occurred, Rivera says he anticipated there would be conflicts in the Middle East, and he asked to be sent there as a war correspondent. When NBC refused to do so, Rivera says they released him from his contract.
He then went to Roger Ailes, CEO of Fox Television, whom he describes as a “longtime friend,” and made a deal to work for Fox News on Nov. 15, 2001. After his experience as a war correspondent, he returned home and began to do the show Geraldo at Large, which has continued in various time periods ever since. His contract at Fox, he said, also allows him to do a daily radio show that airs in New York and Los Angeles.
Rivera says Griffin was forced out of WME after 32 years by the new management. He moved to Paradigm as of Jan. 1, 2010, and Rivera went with him as a client. He says no one at WME ever tried to keep him at the agency or even reached out to him.
Rivera says he has been paying his commissions to Paradigm since the beginning of 2010.
William Morris Endeavor declined to comment on the latest motion in the case.