Terrence Howard Sued by Talent Manager Over 'Empire' Money

His terminated management firm asserts entitlement to 10 percent of his earnings during a seven-year contract to star on 'Empire.'
Gregg DeGuire/WireImage
Terrence Howard (left) and Lee Daniels

Terrence Howard is being hauled to court by a talent management firm that claims the actor has breached an oral contract by failing to pay over post-termination commissions.

In a complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Authentic Talent and Literary Management says Howard now owes several hundreds of thousands of dollars with the payment allegedly due likely to rise.

Authentic Talent was hired by the actor in 2013, and according to the lawsuit, it helped play "a key role in the resurgence of Howard's career. In addition to defending Howard and providing professional, personal, and other advice and career guidance to him, along with Howard's talent agents at the preeminent talent agency CAA, Plaintiff was an integral part of many discussions with Howard that led to his acceptance of the starring role of 'Lucious Lyon' on EMPIRE that had previously been procured for him by CAA."

Howard fired Authentic, but the firm now asserts entitlement to 10 percent of all gross revenue he received from entertainment industry employment obtained during the time of representation.

Most notably, that covers Fox's hit drama Empire

According to the complaint, Howard has a contract to star on the show for seven seasons. Authentic wants a cut for the full term of this deal pursuant to promises as well as "custom, usage, and practice in the entertainment industry."

Howard's rep couldn't immediately be reached for comment. The lawsuit states that the actor confirmed multiple times, including in a September 2014 email, that he would be paying post-termination commissions. Howard and his loan-out company are said to now dispute that they owe any further commissions in connection with Empire.

Authentic retained Mathew Rosengart, who also could not be reached for comment. The attorney previously represented Sean Penn in a defamation lawsuit against Empire co-creator Lee Daniels over comments comparing Penn to Howard. In that case, Penn took issue with the fact that he was being likened to a reported domestic abuser. Rosengart also previously represented Julianna Margulies' ex-manager in a since-settled lawsuit over The Good Wife commissions.

This time, Rosengart wants to impose a constructive trust on all payments received by Howard and, besides alleged breach of an oral contract, is asserting on behalf of his client claims of quantum meruit and unjust enrichment.

In support of the latter claim, Authentic alleges that it intervened and saved Howard's job when executives at Imagine Entertainment wanted to terminate the actor from Empire. No details there are given.

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