Handprint Entertainment launched a lawsuit Friday against United Talent Agency, following last week’s departure of David Guillod from Handprint to UTA.
In the suit, which also names chairman Jim Berkus, UTA board member Jeremy Zimmer and Guillod as defendants, Handprint seeks $10 million in damages for breach of contract, tortious interference with contract, misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair competition and breach of fiduciary duty.
A UTA spokesman said Friday that its counsel had not yet reviewed the complaint but the agency expected the matter to be resolved amicably.
According to the complaint, filed in L.A. Superior Court, Berkus and Zimmer induced Guillod, who headed Handprint’s talent department, to breach his contract shortly after he had verbally agreed to extend for another three years and had announced at a staff meeting that he was staying. Guillod’s contract ran until December, but according to the complaint, he told Pollack on Sept. 21 that he would extend for another three years, even though he had been having secret meetings with UTA since the summer. The complaint also alleges that Guillod agreed to go to UTA only after the agency agreed to indemnify him if Handprint sued.
As for the misappropriation claim, the suit alleges that Guillod went to Handprint’s offices on Sunday, Sept. 22, and, under Zimmer’s supervision and with the help of a UTA technical adviser, removed client files, press kits, demo tapes, contracts, databases and contact lists. Zimmer, the complaint charges, “had the hubris and poor judgment to supervise the activity while seated in the office of the CEO of Handprint, Jeff Pollack, who at that time was attending his child’s soccer game.”
One source familiar with the Sunday meeting said that the scene alleged in the complaint is a fabrication and that Zimmer did not direct the removal of files while sitting in Pollack’s office.
Top thesps in play
Guillod’s departure from Handprint, a management and production shingle, puts into play, at least in theory, several top actresses, including Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Denise Richards, Monica Potter and Angie Harmon. Last week, a UTA spokesman said many of Guillod’s clients were expected to follow him, but others, such as Lopez and Rupert Everett, are likely to remain with their longtime agents.
At the time of Guillod’s departure, Handprint’s Pollack said he was glad the distraction of Guillod’s departure was finally over. At the same time, he denied that there was any talk that Handprint would dissolve, saying the firm had just had its best year to date.