AFTRA targets producer for unpaid residuals

Stanley M. Brooks owes for 'Sordid Lives' TV series

Executive producer Stanley M. Brooks of Once Upon a Time Films did not attend an AFTRA arbitration hearing Tuesday concerning more than $1 million owed from a 2008 Logo TV series but was represented by an attorney who acknowledged that there were unpaid residual payments, according to Del Shores, who was creator and director of the show in question, "Sordid Lives: The Series."

"I went to the AFTRA arbitration today to be a witness for AFTRA," Shores said in a statement to THR after the hearing. "I was not called upon to testify. My understanding is that Stan Brooks and Once Upon a Time Films agreed that they owed the actors of 'Sordid Lives: The Series' somewhere around $1.1 million in unpaid residuals and requested to meet with all three guilds involved -- WGA, DGA and AFTRA -- to try to come to a settlement for the artists owed, including myself. I continue to have faith at this point that our guilds will do the right thing and get us paid fully what they owe us for the work that we performed."

The producer's financial problems surfaced at the end of July when AFTRA issued a "do not work" order to its members concerning Brooks and "Sordid Lives." Brooks has produced more than 50 movies, mostly for TV, since he founded his company in 1989, according to his official bio. Those include Emmy-winning miniseries "Broken Trail," "The Capture of the Green River Killer," "Christmas in Connecticut," "Prayers for Bobby" and two Lifetime movies based on Patricia Cornwell novels, "The Front" and "At Risk." Before setting up his own company, he was president of Guber-Peters Television.

Settlement talks between Brooks and the three guilds are scheduled for Monday and are separate from a ruling by the arbitrator in Tuesday's matter, which is expected in about a week.

In a phone interview, Brooks said he could not confirm or deny what happened Tuesday, or what is owed.

"Here is what I can tell you," he said. "Negotiations are progressing and ongoing, and we have all agreed to a confidentiality agreement until such time as we reach an agreement, so I would be breaching that obligation."

AFTRA also declined comment but has placed Brooks and his company on its "strike" list, which means no guild member is to work for him. Under a reciprocal agreement, that usually means SAG performers won't work for those on the list either.

Brooks and his company also are on the "strike" lists sent to members by the WGA and DGA.

The WGA won an arbitration award against Brooks on Nov. 18, 2009, for $165,907.21 in rerun residuals, interest and penalties.

Although the guilds will attend settlement talks, that doesn't mean they will settle beyond what has been agreed on previously. However, Brooks said that "the guilds have been very agreeable to try and find a settlement, and negotiations are ongoing."

Shores said he is not a party to a confidentiality agreement. Earlier this year, during a DGA hearing, he was awarded $151,585.72 to be paid in five installments. Shores said Brooks paid the first two payments but not the third, which was due July 18. He said Brooks is now in default to him for another $83,689.32.

The ongoing problems apparently have become a public-relations issue for Brooks, who was appointed chairman of the California Film Commission by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. At a recent commission meeting, actress Ann Walker appeared and confronted Brooks, saying that if he didn't pay what he owed, he should resign from the state commission overseeing film and TV work.

Walker wasn't the only performer at that meeting but has become famous for taking on Brooks because her statement was captured by a camera and has been posted on YouTube.
Kenneth Suddelson, an attorney for Brooks, said his client's problems stem from the loss of $700,000 that belonged to the production when payroll company Axium International collapsed and went bankrupt in January 2008, and that Brooks is trying to recover from that. Brooks said previously that he has had to mortgage his home and take out a line of credit to keep going.

Others are not as sympathetic, saying Brooks has continued to operate since then, citing as an example that, in the case of "Sordid," money was paid to Once Upon a Time for residuals but not passed on.

THR has copies of a check to Simon Cinema, a subsidiary of Brooks' company, for $89,082.75 paid by an affiliate of Logo. When Walker confronted Brooks, she noted that money was not paid to the performers after it was received by Brooks.

Other performers who have not been paid include Bonnie Bedelia and the late Rue McClanahan, whose interests have been represented by her manager Barbara Lawrence and friend Michael J. La Rue.
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