Walter Manley, whose Manley Prods. was removed by sheriffs from last year’s American Film Market for failing to pay a producer, has returned to this year’s market with another company.
Manley now works as a consultant to Marquee Entertainment, and at the market he was helping sell its slate of thriller and adventure pix.
Only a year ago, Manley was the talk of AFM, after sheriffs helped remove Manley Prods. from the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel premises.
He is currently on the board of directors of the American Film Marketing Assn.
Manley would only speak briefly about his return to the 1994 market.
“That’s last year’s news,” he said. “Manley Prods. doesn’t exist. That’s the end of it.”
Manley’s problems stem from a deal Manley Prods. inked with Baio-Brascia-Venokur Prods. Inc. to distribute the low-budget “Hard Rock Nightmare.” According to Steve Baio, one of the principals at that production company, Manley Prods. signed a $ 300,000 international distribution guarantee in 1990. The now-bankrupt company has received no payment and, with legal fees and interest, the tab is approaching $ 500,000, Baio said.
Manley Prods. argued that the agreement was not a guaranteed payment, but rather a guarantee for revenue generated over a period of time. But both an American Film Marketing Assn. arbitrator and the California Supreme Court ruled against Manley Prods., leading to the sheriff’s action last year.
Apparently, AFMA rules allow Manley to participate in the market, as long as he does so with another company. Only Manley Prods. is barred.
But corporate law allows individuals to protect themselves from personal liability by setting up businesses. And AFMA has been reluctant to require market participants to sign a personal guarantee that would prevent those involved with barred companies from coming to future markets.
“We acknowledge that weakness,” said Melanie Moen, the association’s director of legal affairs. “I agree it’s a problem.”
That flaw is one that’s particularly unsettling to the producers of “Hard Rock,” who had hoped that last year’s action would have forced Manley Prods. to pay up.
“There’s no bite in it,” said Baio. “He’s back at the AFM.”
Manley Prods. shut its doors in April, about the time Manley went to work for Marquee. On Friday, Manley said he has no intention of paying the “Hard Rock” producers.
“They got a judgment. That’s it,” Manley said.