September 14, 2012 1:27pm PT by Matthew Belloni
'Ugly Betty' Actor Wins Trial Against Ex-Manager Seeking Commissions
A Los Angeles jury has sided with an actor who played the lead character's father on Ugly Betty in a trial against his former manager over commissions from the long-running ABC hit.
Tony Plana, 60, was sued for at least $500,000 in 2009 by manager Tracy Quinn, who claimed she was owed 10 percent of his income from the show because she represented Plana when he scored the role of Ignacio Suarez, America Ferrera's dad on the hit dramedy. Quinn's services were terminated by Plana after the second season of Betty but he continued on the show for four more seasons and continues to receive hefty residuals for his work.
But a jury disagreed with Quinn, ruling unanimously on Thursday that Plana did not breach an oral contract with her by refusing to pay commissions after she was terminated. Plana's lead lawyer Tom Nunziato presented evidence at trial showing that Plana — a veteran character actor with 30 years of experience in film, television and theater — was clear from the beginning of his relationship with Quinn that she would not be entitled to the generally-accepted evergreen 10 percent commission from Plana's work. Quinn's legal team argued, on the other hand, that the manager had worked with Plana's agent Todd Eisner in 2008 to set up the audition that eventually won him the role, and that "custom and practice" in the entertainment industry entitled her to a continuing commission.
The case took a long road to trial. It was initially referred to California's labor commissioner because Plana's original legal team claimed Quinn was acting as an unlicensed talent agent which, if proven, would have disgourged her right to any management commissions. After a lengthy delay, the labor commissioner found that Quinn did not "procure" the Ugly Betty job, sending the case back to LA Superior Court on the issue of whether Plana breached an oral contract by not paying her.
“It was a hard-fought case," Plana's lawyer Nunziato tells The Hollywood Reporter. "The lawyers were professional and based on the evidence the jury did the right thing because we deserved to win."
Quinn attorney Chris Good did not immediately respond to a request for comment.