Runaway clients Roseanne and Tom Arnold are back home at the William Morris Agency, and is usual with them, there is chaos in their wake.

ICM says it bowed out of negotiations with the couple because of threatened litigation. WMA says there were no threats of litigation. The Arnolds’ attorney says the couple recognized their “economic obligation.” The Arnolds say the decision was emotional.

“We simply came to the conclusion that we had left a place where we had emotional ties and decided to return to the William Morris Agency,” the Arnolds said a joint prepared release Wednesday.

Yet sources close to the Arnolds say the pair were frightened by implied threats of litigation by WMA against them, ABC and CBS — and they decided the move to Intl. Creative Management could quickly become grounded in a legal skirmish over commissions and potential contract breaches with ABC and/or CBS.

“That is 100% untrue,” said John Burnham, a motion picture agent at WMA who deals with the Arnolds. “The Arnolds were able to go away to Iowa and, after reviewing the long-standing relationship that was both professional and personal with William Morris, they felt they would be better served here. There was no threat of litigation.

“Why would we litigate? We were the ones with the contract,” Burnham said.

Some sources say the couple became convinced about staying put, and ICM exex were persuaded that the two were too hot to touch, by WMA’s persistent posturing about its commissions and potential contract breaches related to Tom Arnold’s planned new show, “Tom.”

WMA reportedly was contending that it was due commissions on three or four series commitments with ABC; on a 13-episode seriesstarring Tom Arnold on CBS; and a project with Lorimar, in addition to individual contracts with both Arnolds, running through March 31, 1994.

An ICM spokesman said the agency decided to bow out of the situation after their attorneys advised them that litigation was imminent against both the agency and the Arnolds.

“Given this fact and the fact that the networks had been drawn into it, we felt it was in the best interest of the clients and of all involved to simply withdraw,” the spokesman said.

However, backing up Burnham’s contention was the Arnolds’ attorney, Michael L. Robins, who said WMA never threatened a suit against his clients.

When asked whether the Arnolds were contractually free to leave WMA, he said “everybody’s always free to go.

“Tom and Roseanne have never, ever denied any of their economic obligations to anyone,” he said. “They certainly recognized they had an economic obligation to WMA.”

As for why they left, Robins said that the Arnolds had been with WMA for “many, many years. They have no negative feelings whatsoever about ICM,” he said. “But they obviously felt it was in their best interest to stay at William Morris.”

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