Jones sides with thesp in dispute

The acting California Labor Commissioner has sided with thesp Rosa Blasi in her dispute with her former manager over “Strong Medicine” commissions.

In a letter written last week, Robert A. Jones asserted that the Second District Court of Appeals erred in June when it ruled in favor of Marathon Entertainment and Rick Siegel, Blasi’s ex-manager. That ruling overturned part of a state court decision and backed Siegel’s contention that a single violation of the state’s Talent Agencies Act did not necessarily invalidate all other work he performed as a manager.

Jones noted in a letter to Chief Justice Ronald George that the ruling would complicate the task of the labor commission — which has presided over hundreds of disputes between artists and agents, both licensed and unlicensed. He said the commission’s historically voided the entire contract if there’s any procurement of employment by a nonlicensed agent such as a manager.

“It is anticipated that if the decision in Marathon Entertainment remains published and controlling, the Talent Agent Controversies hearings will be more complicated and time consuming in that the issues surrounding the severability of the contract will have to be addressed and the determination of whether the illegal procurement activity tainted the entire contract now before us,” Jones wrote. “The other anticipated result is that the ability of the Act to regulate unlicensed talent agents will be greatly eroded.”

Jones has joined the Screen Actors Guild, the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists and the Assn. of Talent Agents in seeking to depublish the ruling, which would prevent it from being used as a precedent, if the Supreme Court declines Blasi’s appeal.

Siegel has appealed the appellate court ruling to the state Supreme Court because the ruling did not address his contention that the state Legislature did not intend for the Talent Agencies Act to be applied against managers. Blasi fired Siegel two years after she became a regular on “Strong Medicine,” leading to a 2003 suit by Siegel over unpaid commissions.

Siegel said Monday that it’s inappropriate for Jones to have asked for depublication: “This action creates a legal quandary if this court affirms the court of appeals direction: The parties will have to go to the Labor Commission for adjudication, yet Mr. Jones’ advocacy leaves the commissioner and those working under his supervision disqualified from adjudicating the matter.”

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