Paradigm Claims Former Agent's $2 Million Lawsuit Is "False, Frivolous"

After being laid off amid the pandemic, former senior rep Debbee Klein has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Annie Shak
Paradigm chairman Sam Gores

Paradigm has responded to its former senior agent Debbee Klein's $2 million wrongful termination lawsuit against the agency and CEO Sam Gores.

"We have seen Ms. Klein's complaint and it is littered with false, frivolous and scurrilous allegations, which, fortunately for her, are protected by the First Amendment, otherwise she would be facing a defamation suit," outside counsel Dale Kinsella said Thursday in a statement. "Both Paradigm and Mr. Gores expect to be 100 percent vindicated, and our intention is to respond further in court filings."

Klein, a senior agent who represented such top literary clients as Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives), Eric Tuchman (The Handmaid's Tale) and Shane Brennan (NCIS: Los Angeles) was among the 100-plus employees laid off on March 20 as Hollywood began taking emergency measures to mitigate the economic fallout from the novel coronavirus pandemic. But in a lawsuit obtained by The Hollywood Reporter late Wednesday night, she alleges that the pandemic was just an excuse to terminate her for, among other reasons, whistleblowing Gores' dishonest business practices.

In the complaint, filed Wednesday in California's Superior Court by the law firm Freedman + Taitelman, Klein claims that Gores recently asked her to lend the agency half of her annual salary — $500,000 – in order to pad Paradigm's income stream in financial reports to its bank. Klein refused and said that she would have to report such fraudulent activity. In addition, she alleges that Gores has a history of sexist behavior, including exposing Klein to "lascivious comments about his sex life" and promoting "less qualified male agents" over her, while telling her that she was Paradigm's "best agent" but lacked leadership qualities.

Klein also accuses Gores of using his agency's coffers as a personal slush fund to pay for prostitutes, and that despite "[forcing] over 200 Paradigm employees to fend for themselves — without any pay or reliable health insurance" in the current crisis, he has retained a personal driver and private chef on the company payroll.