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Vardalos settles ‘Greek’ suit

Terms of settlement remain confidential

This story was updated on Feb. 13, 2004.

Nia Vardalos and her former management company have settled a suit over the thesp’s failure to pay the 15% commission on her earnings from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”

Terms of the Los Angeles Superior Court settlement between Vardalos and Marathon Entertainment were confidential. Suit was settled after the State Labor Commission ruled last month in favor of Vardalos that the 1997 contract between Marathon and Vardalos was void because the company had acted as a talent agency without a license.

A rep for Vardalos said the settlement was “amicable.”

Marathon sued Vardalos early last year for not paying the commission on earnings from the hit comedy feature, which she wrote and toplined. Domestic grosses for the 2002 release topped $241 million; foreign take hit $115 million.

Marathon asserted that Vardalos induced Marathon principal Rick Siegel to forgo a producing credit on the film by promising “unconditional payment” for all services. The action also claimed Marathon completely financed a live one-woman stage show of “Wedding” and that the company played a major role in getting the film project greenlit and shot.

Production took place in September and October 2000; Vardalos fired Marathon in November 2000.

Attorneys for Vardalos had denied the allegations and asserted that Siegel had already been paid commission on all monies that Vardalos had received on the film. And a state court judge sided last year with Vardalos in finding that Marathon’s suit could not proceed until after the commission proceedings, despite arguments by Marathon that the state’s Talent Agencies Act was illegal.

In a pair of concurrent rulings over similar accusations, the labor commission recently found in favor of Siegel in a case filed by “Girlfriends” star Reggie Hayes and against him in a case filed by “Striong Medicine” star Rosa Blasi. Siegel said both cases are being appealed.

Siegel, who has been a manager for 14 years, has been attempting for the past several years to change how the Talent Agency Act is applied, contending that Siegel says performers can use it as a legal loophole to get out of contracts because managers aren’t allowed to procure employment. But if the manager abides by the act and doesn’t communicate employment opportunities, he or she could face a lawsuit for nonperformance.

“The Talent Agency Act was created to protect artists fromemployers masquerading as employment counselors,” Siegel said. “There is a need to maintain a prohibition on such activity; however, that is not the accusation here. I welcome the opportunity to correct the inequities of the current environment, which allows employers to masquerade as artists and deprive their employees of well-earned wages and compensation.”

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