Commission payments expected to exceed $1 mil

AMG partners Rick Yorn and Julie Silverman Yorn are close to settlement of an arbitration with Industry Entertainment involving commission payments in excess of $1 million.

The litigation stems from the Yorns’ acrimonious 1998 split with Industry principals Keith Addis and Nick Wechsler, and the Yorns’ subsequent partnership with Michael Ovitz in Artists Management Group.

In his bid to enter the management business, Ovitz pursued the Yorns and their clients, most notably Rick Yorn’s signature clients Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz. As for the Yorns, they were reportedly disgruntled with Addis-Wechsler because they were not offered an ownership interest when the company was acquired by Interpublic Group in 1998.

As part of the 1998 settlement between the Yorns and Addis-Wechsler, the Yorns agreed to pay a portion of future commissions on clients they took with them to AMG. Sources say that most of disputed amount — believed to be about $1.2 million — involves commissions attributable to Diaz’s role in “Charlie’s Angels.”

Neither side would comment on the arbitration or the impending settlement.

The Yorns made the initial payments, but stopped following a panel discussion in 2000 at the Cannes Film Festival, at which Ovitz claimed he was defamed by Addis in violation of the terms of the settlement agreement.

At that panel, Addis reportedly was asked what he thought — morality aside — of Ovitz poaching his star manager. Addis replied, “On a Machiavellian level, I think it was brilliant. But we’ll see if there’s karma in show business.”

The arbitration proceeding was brought at the beginning of the year by well-known litigator Patty Glaser on behalf of Industry.

One source described the defamation claim as a pretext to stop payment and indicated that, under the proposed settlement, the bulk of the disputed amount would be paid.

If a settlement is not finalized, the arbitration hearing is scheduled to begin next month.

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