E*Trade Responds to Harvey Keitel Lawsuit: "No Deal"

The actor alleges the online brokerage firm breached a contract to have him appear in commercials.
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Harvey Keitel

When Harvey Keitel filed a lawsuit against E*Trade in June for allegedly reneging on "firm and binding" offer to appear in a series of commercials for the online brokerage company, he failed to include the part where the offer was "contingent upon the results of the background check, and of course coming to terms on scripts, compensation, etc."

So says E*Trade in a motion to dismiss filed in New York Supreme Court.

Keitel alleges that after E*Trade attempted unsuccessfully to hire Christopher Walken, it turned to him. He says the deal was $1.5 million for three commercials.

E*Trade's response is to ridicule the suggestion that it formed and breached a contract "in a space of less than 17 hours," that "even a cursory glance at the purported contract itself and at the emails exchanged between the parties’ agents ... reveals that no such breach occurred because no such contract existed."

The defendant says a term sheet didn't represent a final agreement, that it was "not signed, contained blanks to be filled in later and invited Mr. Keitel to acknowledge his understanding of the 'proposed negotiations.'"

It's added that Keitel didn't accept the offer.

Ogilvy & Mather, the ad agency working with E*Trade, was headed towards using Keitel upon the suggestion of his agents at ICM Partners.

On January 28, 2014, ICM's Karen Sellars wrote, "I am very pleased that Harvey has agreed to do the three commercials for E*Trade. Per our conversations, can you please get us the long form contract as soon as possible so I can get it to your business affairs. Also, the city and days of shooting are equally important so I can run them by Harvey. And finally, please keep us in the loop in terms of the director. As I said, Harvey really wants a director who knows his work. Maybe someone like Ridley Scott, etc. and would like to have rehearsal time."

E*Trade says the term sheet proposed six commercials (including two radio commercials and an online advertisement) — not three — and the added suggestion that it hire an Oscar-winning director, provide rehearsal time and give Keitel’s agent information on logistics amounted to an unaccepted "counteroffer."

In a footnote to the motion (read in full here), E*Trade, represented by the law firm of Quinn Emanuel, also says that Sellars also communicated other conditions for Keitel's work, including "requests to hire his preferred hairstylist, makeup artist, wardrobe person, tailor and assistant."