Personal manager and Red Ant Records prexy Randy Phillips has filed a $5 million lawsuit against MCA/Universal claiming he was made prexy of MCA Records only to have the post withdrawn when the management regime changed.
The lawsuit, filed Friday in L.A. Superior Court, revisits claims first made privately by Phillips against MCA two years ago. Settlement discussions have since been ongoing.
At the heart of the complaint is Phillips’ assertion that he was made MCA Records prexy by Al Teller, then chairman of MCA Music Entertainment Group, and that other MCA officials knew or should have known about the offer and the “final details of an employment contract,” which he claims included a $1 million salary for five years and an annual bonus of $250,000.
But Teller was fired days later in a management shakeup at the music conglom, and Phillips was told that Teller’s replacement, Doug Morris, wanted to hire his own choice for prexy of MCA Records, according to the complaint.
Friday’s lawsuit was filed in time to comply with the two-year statute of limitations on breach of contract claims. Universal sources said Phillips’ attorney Skip Miller last week provided execs with a draft complaint, but Miller didn’t say when the lawsuit would be filed.
“Mr. Phillips was hurt badly and suffered substantial damages as a result of this situation,” Miller told Daily Variety. “We’ve tried to resolve this amicably.”
The deal for Phillips to take the MCA post had been discussed for several weeks between Phillips and Teller, with an agreement allegedly struck during a Nov. 14, 1995, meeting (Daily Variety, Nov. 17, 1995). But sources said no contract, deal memo or draft agreement was ever created.
Phillips claims MCA execs reneged on the deal when Teller was ousted two days later by Ron Meyer, president and chief operating officer of MCA Inc., as part of a management shakeup in its Music Entertainment Group arm.
Phillips was to assume the post after then-label president Richard Palmese was ousted by Teller. Jay Boberg was eventually selected as MCA Records prexy by Morris and Zach Horowitz, prexy of Universal Music Group.
Sources said Phillips and Miller have been trying to settle the claim with Morris, Horowitz and music group vice chairman Mel Lewinter, but the talks have long been at an impasse.
Universal sources said Phillips’ appointment was always contingent upon Meyer’s approval — which was never given.
In addition to serving as prexy of Red Ant, Phillips currently manages singer Toni Braxton in association with Arnold Stiefel.