(CN) – Joan Rivers’ former personal manager claims the comedian fired him after she won “Celebrity Apprentice,” – a feat the manager says would not have been possible without his $18,000 contribution to a charity auction, for which she never reimbursed him.
William Sammeth claims in Manhattan Federal Court that Rivers, whose real name is Joan Rosenberg, defamed him by describing him as a “disappeared” manager in a documentary about her, and refused to pay him $180,000 in commissions and business costs.
Sammeth claims that under his guidance Rivers’ career blossomed from 12 annual concert appearances to more than 40, while her fee increased from $4,000 per night to $30,000.
Sammeth says he managed Rivers’ career from 2002 until 2009. He claims she called him one week after winning on Donald Trump’s show, “Celebrity Apprentice,” and said she “wanted to go in a new direction.”
He claims Rivers owes him $180,000 for airfare, for other expenses, including rental cars, and for commissions from the “Comedy Central Roast of Joan Rivers,” the documentary “A Piece of Work,” and for other appearances.
Sammeth claims that Break Thru Films, which produced the documentary, asked him to sign a 1-page release in front of her “for the benefit of the film.” He says he signed it without reading it, and found out later that it allowed Rivers to defame him.
Sammeth sued Rivers, Rubgy Productions and Break Thru Films, demanding $200,000 in compensation and $2 million in punitive damages.
He is represented by Susan Lask.