Ex-Manager Can Still Go After Kudrow's Earnings
(CN) - A California appeals court revived claims that "Friends" star Lisa Kudrow owes part of her income to a longtime manager she fired in 2007.
Click here to read Courthouse News' Entertainment Law Digest.Scott Howard struck a deal with the actress in 1991 to gain a percentage of her earnings in exchange for his personal management services.
Kudrow joined the cast of NBC's "Mad About You" in 1993 before starting her run as Phoebe Buffay on "Friends," which lasted from 1994 and 2004.
Kudrow earned $1 million for each of the last 18 episodes of "Friends," but work slowed down for the actress after the series' demise. Kudrow even spoofed the predicament with a lead role on the Emmy-nominated but short-lived series "The Comeback" in 2005.
After Kudrow fired Howard in 2007, her career picked up with a new series "Web Therapy," which earned an Emmy this year.
In the meantime, however, Kudrow has been fending off a lawsuit from Howard who says he deserves a cut from the actress's future projects, since he brought her to that level of fame.
Longtime Hollywood manager Max Bauer submitted a declaration on Howard's behalf, stating that, after Mike Myers fired his manager in the 1990s, "the manager continued to receive commission on the income generated from contracts enter into or services performed while the manager was representing the client."
But Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Cesar Sarmiento barred Howard from admitting the expert's testimony, and he granted Kudrow summary judgment.
The Second Appellate District reversed Wednesday, saying Bauer should be allowed to testify on remand.
"As long as the expert has sufficient experience in the industry and with the subject matter of his testimony, he or she may give an expert opinion on that subject," according to the majority opinion authored by Justice Richard Mosk.
Judges Orville Armstrong and Paul Turner wrote letters of concurrence. Turner's fleshed-out letter states that "the trial court did not have the discretion to sustain defendants' objections to the declaration of Mr. Bauer."
"The uncontroverted evidence demonstrates that Mr. Bauer is a knowledgeable, experienced entertainment lawyer and manager," Turner wrote. "Our Supreme Court has made it clear that as a matter of law, an experienced, knowledgeable and professionally trained witness expressing an opinion need not be a practitioner in the field about which she or he expounds. In my view, the exclusion of Mr. Bauer's declaration was an order beyond the allowable scope of judicial discretion."