April 03, 2013 6:00am PT by Matthew Belloni
Jon Lovitz Lawsuit Claims Partner Pushed L.A. Comedy Club Into 'Financial Disarray' (Exclusive)
Comic Jon Lovitz's eponymous Los Angeles comedy club is in "financial disarray" thanks to a partner who stole money for his own personal use and mismanaged the property, according to a new lawsuit.
According to a complaint filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court and obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Frank Kelley partnered with the former Saturday Night Live star in 2009 to open the Jon Lovitz Comedy Club on Universal's CityWalk in Universal City. Lovitz alleges he invested $1.5 million of his own money and entrusted the day-to-day business to Kelley, who is said to have presented himself as an experienced comedy club manager.
But Kelley is alleged to have used the club credit card and checks to make more than $100,000 in personal purchases. He also is alleged to have mismanaged the venue while causing the business to fall apart.
"Kelly has repeatedly and shamefully abused [Lovitz's] trust by secretly misappropriating significant funds which [Lovitz] entrusted to him for the operation of the Jon Lovitz Comedy Club," the complaint alleges. Read it in full here.
The Jon Lovitz Comedy Club has been a fixture at the outdoor CityWalk mall since it opened in 2009. But Lovitz claims that there have been problems behind the scenes.
"Indeed, although the club has hosted numerous sold-out shows for some of the biggest performers in comedy, Kelley has failed to pay many of these performers the money they were promised, choosing instead to keep this money for himself," according to the lawsuit.
THR has reached out to Kelley via the club for comment.
"While Kelley has obviously benefited significantly from such financial scheming, the club, on the other hand, has fallen into financial disarray, and [Lovitz] has lost substantial sums of money that he invested in the club."
The complaint, which alleges causes of action for conversion, fraud and breach of fiduciary duty, was filed by Marty Singer and David Jonelis of L.A.'s Lavely & Singer.