'Pirates of the Caribbean' Writer Sued For Commission By Former Manager

Terry Rossio, whose other credits include 'The Lone Ranger' and 'Deja Vu,' allegedly owes two years of payments.
Peter Mountain/Walt Disney Pictures
'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides'

One of the writers of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise hasn't paid commissions after firing his former manager, she claims in a lawsuit filed Monday.

In the complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Dodie Herskovitz of Dodie Gold Management claims she became Terry Rossio's manager in February 2002. She says their contract entitled her to 10 percent of gross revenues and other amounts earned from entertainment industry work negotiated by her firm.

In the subsequent decade, she says she managed him while he signed to write (with Ted Elliott) every installment of Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer Films' Pirates of the Caribbean saga (though the upcoming fifth, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, has a screenplay by Jeff Nathanson based on Rossio and Elliott's characters).

Other deals during which she says she managed Rossio include his projects The Lone Ranger, Deja Vu (which Rossio and Bill Marsilii sold for $5 million, widely considered to be the largest screenplay sale ever) and upcoming projects Lightspeed and Instant Karma.

She says Rossio ended their contract in March 2013. In the past two years, she claims, the screenwriter hasn’t paid her "certain revenues" she's owed under their contract.

Read the complaint.

She carefully points out, "Plaintiffs did not procure work for defendants. To the degree Plaintiffs participated in negotiations on behalf of Defendants, all such services were provided in conjunction with and at the request of Defendants' licensed talent agency." 

This is a nod to the Talent Agencies Act, a controversial piece of California litigation permitting only licensed talent agencies to "procure" employment for clients. Often when managers sue their clients for commissions, like in cases involving Orson Scott Card and LMFAO, the clients respond by bringing claims of TAA violations against the managers. The claims then go before the California Labor Commission, forestalling the cases for sometimes years.

Represented by Wolf Rifkin Shapiro's Matthew Oster and Anthony King, Herskovitz claims breach of oral contract, quantum meruit, conversion, unfair business practices and unjust enrichment and demands an accounting. She does not specify damages.

In addition to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Rossio's credits include Shrek, The Mask of Zorro, Aladdin and story credits on The Legend of Zorro and National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets.

The Hollywood Reporter has requested comment from his reps.

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