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Mexican pop music superstar Paulina Rubio has filed a lawsuit against Telemundo, alleging that the NBCUniversal subsidiary has reneged on a $1.325 million deal for her to star in a second season of the highly rated music competition show La Voz Kids, a Spanish-language children’s themed spinoff of The Voice.
Rubio also stars as a judge along with Simon Cowell and Kelly Rowland on Fox’s The X Factor, and in her lawsuit filed on Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, she says that Telemundo used scheduling concerns as a “pretext” for getting out of a contract.
“Telemundo apparently changed its mind after making a deal when presented with the opportunity to hire a far less expensive talent to replace Paulina,” says the lawsuit.
After the first season of La Voz Kids aired last year, the parties entered into negotiations for Rubio to appear as a coach/judge again. According to the complaint, her attorney and talent agent “agreed orally and in email correspondence” with Telemundo “that the material terms for Paulina to appear on the Second Season would be the same as in the written contract for the First Season apart from Paulina’s compensation.”
Tanya Perara, vp business and legal affairs at Telemundo, is said to have requested written confirmation there would be no scheduling conflict with The X Factor.
But Rubio’s duties on X Factor had her performing in May and June, while La Voz Kids was shooting earlier in the year. Rubio’s agent rejected the demand as “unnecessary,” given that her X Factor deal allowed her to perform on the other show and “the custom and practice in the industry of parties cooperatively working out schedule issues.”
A compensation figure of $1.325 million was allegedly agreed upon in email on Dec. 4. Rubio’s transactional attorney Joe Carlone told Perara, “We are closed.”
But Telemundo still wanted written confirmation that Rubio would be available to film a second season. In response, Carlone put Perara in touch with FremantleMedia, producer of The X Factor.
“Rather than do so in good faith,” says the lawsuit, “Telemundo made only a perfunctory effort to clear a full three and a half week period in May and June and did not respond to Fremantle’s request in response to same that Telemundo identify the specific dates that Telemundo wanted to clear. Defendants’ concern about clearing dates was, at best, a pretext. Defendants did not act reasonably or in good faith to obtain the written confirmation that they purportedly required.”
On Dec. 23, Telemundo senior vp Jose Sariego advised Carlone that the network had decided to “terminate negotiations.”
The next day, Rubio’s litigation attorney Howard King demanded that Telemundo tender the $1.325 million payment. The response came 10 days later, when Telemundo denied there was any binding agreement.
Now King is telling an L.A. Superior judge what he believes happened:
“Defendants’ attack of buyer’s remorse after making their deal with Paulina has led them to wiggle out of Paulina’s deal once they knew they had secured a replacement, under the guise of needing confirmation from Fremantle of Paulina’s availability — and when that ruse no longer worked, Defendants flat out denied that they had ever made a deal for the Second Season.”
Rubio demands at least $1 million for breach of contract, and an additional $100,000 over an alleged deal to use clips of her first season in television advertisements for Gain laundry detergent. King tells THR, “Telemundo is going to pay for their questionable business ethics and cavalier attitude toward the talent that contributes so greatly to their commercial success.”
A Telemundo spokesperson comments, “We have not seen any lawsuit by Ms. Rubio against Telemundo.”
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