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Public relations firm Sitrick And Company has sued producer John Middleton for unpaid fees in relation to representing him in his public fallout with one-time business partner Roy Lee.
Sitrick led Middleton’s public relations campaign attempting to mitigate reputational harm as a result of reporting from The Hollywood Reporter exploring the dissolution of his partnership with Lee, the powerhouse producer of It and The Departed. The lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court seeks payment of an outstanding bill of more than $750,000.
Sitrick is best known as a crisis management firm for embattled, high-profile clients facing potentially career-ending controversies. Its roster of patrons has included Harvey Weinstein, Rush Limbaugh and R. Kelly. It currently represents Rust producer Streamline Global, which has been accused in various lawsuits of causing the fatal on-set shooting of Halyna Hutchins by cutting corners on safety.
Middleton retained Sitrick in May 2020, a month ahead of THR‘s story about the disintegration of his relationship with Lee.
Sitrick’s complaint reveals some of the costs for the firm to take on clients, including a $60,000 nonrefundable retainer as a minimum annual fee.
According to a copy of the contract attached in the lawsuit, the firm’s hourly rates range from $195 to $1,250 depending on who’s working. Michael Sitrick and Sallie Hofmeister spent the most time handling Middleton’s account and charged $1,250 and $895 per hour respectively.
The agreement also details a “success fee” if the firm believes it performed services which “result in significant benefits to the client beyond those we believe a normal consulting and public relations firm could achieve.”
While matters such as these are typically handled in arbitration, Sitrick argues that it sued to obtain “provisional relief against Middleton in order to avoid the rendering of an arbitration award against Middleton ineffectual.”
Middleton and his attorney Marty Singer did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Sitrick declined to comment.
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