Woody Allen’s Manager Accused of Secretly Pocketing Commissions

Woody Allen’s manager is facing accusations that he secretly pocketed commissions from Allen’s films that should have gone to his management partners.

Dominique Cohen-Brezner filed a lawsuit on March 30 in Los Angeles Superior Court accusing Stephen Tenenbaum of withholding money from her late husband, Larry Brezner. Brezner, who died in 2015, was partners with Tenenbaum and David Steinberg in MBST Entertainment.

According to the suit, Tenenbaum had an obligation to share the revenues from Allen’s films with his partners. However, Cohen-Brezner alleges that Tenenbaum “secretly arranged to defer income from Woody Allen’s projects while at the same time planning to leave MBST and pocket the commissions for himself after forming his new management company.”

The three were partners in MBST for 20 years, and shared commissions from all of their clients. In addition to Allen, the company represented Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, and Bette Midler.

Cohen-Brezner claims that Tenenbaum and his son Andrew, who was also on the MBST payroll, helped structure the financing and distribution of Allen’s films. According to the suit, revenue from foreign distributors was paid into accounts that Tenenbaum could access and control. The lawsuit accuses him of failing to provide a full accounting of those funds to his management partners, and of structuring the deals with foreign distributors in order to defer payments and thereby keep all commissions for himself.

MBST operated as a subsidiary of Core Media Group, which acquired the management firm in 2005. Cohen-Brezner also claims that Tenenbaum gave Brezner “disastrously poor” financial advice in connection with the acquisition.

The suit contends that Tenenbaum’s secret deferral of Allen-related revenue “was the death knell of MBST.” Tenenbaum left the company in late 2012 and formed One More Time Management and Productions. He retained Allen as a client and he continued to produce Allen’s films. Facing a sharp dropoff in revenue, Brezner also left MBST “on terms that … were worse than Tenenbaum was able to negotiate for himself with CMG,” the suit alleges.

At the time of Tenenbaum’s departure, Cohen-Brezner contends that he had already produced “Blue Jasmine,” which was released in 2013, and substantially negotiated Allen’s participation in the John Turturro-directed “Fading Gigolo” and the 2014 musical version of “Bullets Over Broadway.” However, she states that Tenenbaum has refused to provide any commissions from those projects to his former partners.

According to the suit, the three partners engaged in active negotiations about the Allen commissions in 2014, and Tenenbaum offered the other two 25% apiece. They rejected the offer, saying each was owed one-third of the commissions. The negotiations stalled shortly before Williams’ death in 2014, and Brezner fell ill and died in October 2015.

Tenenbaum did not return calls seeking comment.

In 2001, it was Tenenbaum who urged Allen to sue his longtime producer, Jean Doumanian, for allegedly shortchanging Allen of $12 million in profits from eight films. The suit was settled in 2002 on confidential terms.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Tenenbaum continues to produce Allen’s films. He produced “Cafe Society,” which was released in 2016, but according to Allen’s publicist the two have since ended their business relationship.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Margot Robbie stars in ONCE UPON

    Box Office: 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' Pulls Ahead of 'Hobbs & Shaw' Overseas

    Sony’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” might not have hit No. 1 in North America, but Quentin Tarantino’s latest film is leading the way at the international box office, where it collected $53.7 million from 46 markets. That marks the best foreign opening of Tarantino’s career, coming in ahead of 2012’s “Django Unchained.” “Once [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Leads Crowded Weekend With $21 Million

    The Bean Bag Boys, the self-appointed nickname for the trio of best friends in Universal’s “Good Boys,” are conquering much more than sixth grade. They are also leading the domestic box office, exceeding expectations and collecting $21 million on opening weekend. “Good Boys,” which screened at 3,204 North American theaters, is a much-needed win for [...]

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Instinct

    Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct'

    Now that “Game of Thrones” has finally reached its conclusion, releasing its gifted international ensemble into the casting wilds, will Hollywood remember just what it has in Carice van Houten? It’s not that the statuesque Dutch thesp hasn’t been consistently employed since her startling 2006 breakout in Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” or even that she’s [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019

    Universal’s “Good Boys” is surpassing expectations as it heads toward an estimated $20.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office following $8.3 million in Friday ticket sales. That’s well above earlier estimates which placed the film in the $12 million to $15 million range, marking the first R-rated comedy to open at No. 1 [...]

  • Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Wins at

    Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Triumphs at Locarno Film Festival

    The 72nd Locarno Film Festival drew to a close Saturday with Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa’s dark and detached film “Vitalina Varela” coming away with several awards together with superlatives from segments of the hardcore cinephile crowd, including jury president Catherine Breillat. In announcing the Golden Leopard prize for the film, as well as best actress [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content