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WME Settles Conflict of Interest Lawsuit From ‘La La Land’ Composer

WME Settles Conflict of Interest Lawsuit From ‘La La Land’ Composer

WME and La La Land composer Justin Hurwitz have settled a lawsuit accusing the agency of a conflict of interest when it produced live orchestral shows of the movie using his score while mostly locking him out of profits from the touring live-to-film concerts.

“The Parties are happy to report that they have resolved their differences,” WME said in a statement. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Hurwitz, in a lawsuit filed in 2022 in Los Angeles Superior Court, claimed that WME abused its relationship with him to secure a license from Lionsgate for a La La Land tour, “only to self-deal by competing directly against” him for the profits from the concerts. Since then, other agencies such as CAA have sustained allegations of self-dealing in lawsuits from talent such as Terrence Howard and Sage Steele.

WME started representing Hurwitz in 2010, first as a writer and then as a composer, according to the complaint.

After Hurwitz won Academy Awards for best original score and song in La La Land, WME approached him about crediting itself as producers for a concert tour that would feature a live orchestral performance of the score, the lawsuit says. He was allegedly told that he would have right of first refusal to conduct all concert performances, for which he’d be paid $50,000 regardless of whether he performed. Under his deal with WME, Hurwitz was under the belief that the agency received a 10 percent cut of the conducting fees but didn’t know that it was also entitled to fixed profit participation from each performance of the tour as a producer. If he’d known, Hurwitz says he would’ve demanded additional compensation.

“WME sold its own client a bill of goods, abusing its agency relationship with Hurwitz in order to secure the license for the tour of La La Land in Concert – only to self-deal by competing directly against Hurwitz for the profits from the tour,” the complaint states.

The lawsuit claims that the agency repeatedly lied to him about how much money it was set to make from the tour, “convincing Hurwitz to accept a minimal piece of the pie.” And to avoid paying the composer a $50,000 fee for conducting shows, WME told him there wasn’t enough money to hire him when, in reality, the budget was constrained by a fixed fee it was taking for producing the performances.

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“Hurwitz found himself in the absurd position of being denied the opportunity to work by his own talent agent on a project in which his  talent agent was supposedly representing him,” the complaint stated. “As a result, the talent-talent agency relationship had been turned upside down.”

Hurwitz advanced claims for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract and fraud, among others, over WME allegedly lying about the conflict of interest.

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