It looks like a Big Fat Greek lawsuit.
Marathon Entertainment has sued Nia Vardalos, star and writer of the smash comedy “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” for her alleged failure to pay 15% of her compensation from the film to the management company.
The suit, filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges that Vardalos reneged on several oral agreements to pay Marathon, which managed her for three years until November 2000, from her proceeds from the film. It also asserted that Vardalos induced Marathon principal Rick Siegel to forego a producing credit on the film by promising “unconditional payment” for all services.
The causes of action include breach of oral contract, false promises and fraudulent inducement. The action seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
The film, which was released last April, has remained a strong draw at the domestic box office with over $228 million gross.
The action asserts that Marathon provided over $20,000 to completely finance a live one-woman stage show of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and that the company played a major role in subsequently getting the project greenlit and shot. Production took place in September and October 2000.
“Marathon provided business acuity, marketing skills, creative knowledge, emotional support and motivation in Ms. Vardalos’ dealings with the various production entities and attorneys to facilitate the film’s production,” the suit said. “Ms. Vardalos has unlawfully, unfairly and/or fraudulently victimized Marathon and its representatives and employees, in particular Mr. Siegel, into using his credibility and goodwill in the entertainment community, risking approximately $20,000 to produce her one-woman show and contributing countless hours of hard work to advance her career and facilitiate the producion of ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding.'”
Reps for Vardalos were not immediately available for comment.
The suit could force a court decision on the California laws that forbid managers from procuring employment. Marathon has previously sued actor Reginald Hayes over alleged breach of contract; the thesp responded by alleging that Marathon had been in violation of the state law by performed as an agent without being licensed.
Marathon responded last year in the Hayes’ case by asserting that the state law is unconstitutional. “It uses intentionally vague language and allows for irrational and discriminatory exclusions and it empowers some of the most powerful and well off employers in today’s society to avoid paying one of their most trusted employees — their personal manager — for years of hard work and labor,” the firm said in a filing to the state labor commission in response to Hayes’ allegations.
Siegel told Daily Variety that the suit against Vardalos has a similar goal. “This is not about which one of us is the antagonist,” he added. “It’s about whether the law itself is unconstitutional.”