Lisa Kudrow May Take Legal Dispute With Ex-Manager to State Supreme Court

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An attorney for Lisa Kudrow said he and the actress are considering taking a legal dispute with her former manager to the California Supreme Court.

The legal dispute began in 2008, when Kudrow's former manager, Scott Howard, sued her for refusing to pay him more than $50,000 in fees from her earnings from the television show, "Friends" and other projects.

Last week, an appeals court ruled as admissible "expert" testimony that it is customary practice to pay managers a cut from projects received after a working relationship ends. Kudrow's lawyer has sought to keep that testimony out of the trial, which has not yet gone to a jury.

"The bottom line at this point in time is we are taking a look at possibly petitioning the California Supreme Court to look at the matter and at the same Ms. Kudrow is looking forward to having the matter decided in front of a jury if the matter proceeds to a trial court for a determination," said her attorney, Gerald Sauer of the law firm Sauer & Wagner LLP.

In 1991, Howard said the two had made an oral agreement that would receive a 10 percent cut of Kudrow's income, according to the lawsuit.

Starting in 1992, Kudrow had made recurring guest appearances on NBC's "Mad About You." From 1994 through 2004, she starred as Phoebe in the hit series, "Friends." Toward the end of the series, she was entitled to 1.25 percent of profit from the show.

Howard and his company, Howard Entertainment Inc., did not return a request for comment.

For the last 18 episodes in 2004, Kudrow made $1 million an episode.

In 2000 and 2004, the two modified their oral agreement to lower Howard's commission on certain earnings from Friends, eventually down to 5 percent, according to decision from the California court of appeal.

The recent declaration in question was submitted by Hollywood manager Martin Bauer on behalf of Howard.

Bauer said that "from at least the early 1980s, it had been the custom and practice in the entertainment industry for a personal manager to be paid post-termination commissions on the services that their clients rendered, and on engagements that their clients entered into, when the personal manager was representing them," according to the court filing.

A Los Angeles County Superior Court barred Howard from admitting the Bauer's testimony, and he granted Kudrow summary judgment. The appeals court reversed Wednesday, saying Bauer should be allowed to testify on remand, as reported by Courthouse News Service.

Kudrow's attorney said the court of appeal "obviously has taken a different view" than the lower courts.

"The court of appeals opinion by no means indicates there is an industry practice custom that would apply to this case," Sauer said. "We will be given an opportunity at trial that an industry custom did not exist when Kudrow and Howard entered into the original relationship in 1991."

Sauer, who said Kudrow would decline to comment, said they have until Oct. 1 to decide if they will file a petition with the California Superior Court.

When asked for his reaction to the now four-year-old case, Sauer said, "The legal process is one with twists and turns. You never know how long it is going to take."

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