Los Angeles (KABC) — Actor Terrence Howard has filed a lawsuit against Creative Artists Agency LLC, alleging that the talent agency fraudulently convinced him to take less money for his role on the hit TV show “Empire.”
“Despite this feeling of confidence, years later Howard discovered that CAA… placed its own financial interests, as well as the interests of the production companies it also represented, before its own interests,” the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit states.
Although Howard — who appeared at a news conference Friday with his attorney to announce the lawsuit — knew that CAA was packaging the project and receiving fees, he was unaware of the conflict of interest that CAA faced not only by acquiring its rights. The suit names private financial interests embedded in the project, but also in the representation of the actors and production companies.
“Mr. Howard will file a lawsuit based on the duties his agents failed to perform repeatedly,” said attorney James Bryant of the Cochran Law Firm. “This is a guy who was the lead actor, once again, on one of the most successful television shows in the network’s history with Fox making more than $125 million a year in advertising revenue alone. This guy was underpaid time and time again.”
While producers want to keep the top production budget as low as reasonably possible, actors want to receive maximum value for their work, the lawsuit states. The lawyers claim that CAA convinced Howard to believe that his salary was fair for his acting work on the show.
“I trusted CAA to take care of me, and they took care of themselves,” the actor said. “I can’t say this was a racist issue, but I can’t imagine that white actors could compare to the numbers and accolades and global recognition that I have. I can’t imagine that CAA would allow me to be abused the way they allowed Fox to abuse me,” he said. Or get paid the same way I was paid.”
Howard, 54, is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. Eyewitness News reached out to CAA for a statement but has not received a response. The Cochran Law Firm said the lawsuit does not include an amount for damages at this time, which it said will be determined at a later date.
“Empire” had a debut pilot episode that reached nearly 10 million viewers, marking Fox’s highest debut in three years, the suit says.
“As a result, Empire was an instant success, not only exceeding the network’s viewership expectations, but also bringing significant critical acclaim throughout the entertainment industry,” the lawsuit states.
Howard’s film roles include “Crash” and “Hustle.” & flow.”
City News Service, Inc. contributed. In preparing this report.
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