HOLLYWOOD — A Santa Monica judge handed talent manager Marv Dauer a victory Friday when he issued a tentative ruling finding no evidence that Dauer procured work for actor Jason Behr in violation of the California Talent Agencies Act.
“This victory is a small step,” Dauer said. “But we need to resolve once and for all what managers are allowed to do. Had I lost, we would have closed down the management business.” Dauer was represented by Jerry Kaplan and Joan Kenegos of Kaplan, Kenegos & Kadin.
“We are shocked and disappointed by the judge’s tentative ruling,” said Behr’s attorney, Michael Garfinkel. “We believe that we more than proved our case. We will explore our legal options when we receive the final decision.”
The case has been closely watched as it shines a spotlight on the blurry line between agents and managers. Managers can guide their clients’ careers, but only an agent can actually line up work. Behr, who has a continuing role on UPN’s “Roswell” and a part in upcoming film “The Shipping News,” claimed Dauer made calls to get him parts in a variety of commercials and television shows. Dauer said Behr’s agent at the time, Jeff Witjas of William Morris, made the calls.
In Friday’s decision, L.A. Superior Court Judge Julius Title found that Behr had failed to give sufficient evidence that Dauer had procured employment for him. The ruling did not address the broader issue of the proper role of a manager working in conjunction with an agent.
The case arose as an appeal from a Labor Commission ruling. After Behr terminated his six-year relationship with Dauer in 1999, Dauer sued him for commissions. Behr filed with the Labor Commission claiming that Dauer had violated state law by obtaining work for him. The Labor Commission ruled in favor of Behr, and Dauer appealed. Behr can appeal Title’s ruling once it becomes final; otherwise, Dauer’s case proceeds in the trial court, where Behr can raise other defenses.