Zooey Deschanel has lobbed a big cross-complaint in her dispute with her former management firm over commissions. The New Girl star alleges that Seven Summits partner Sarah Jackson purposely barged into her private dressing room with two strangers while she was changing her clothes.
According to papers filed last week in Los Angeles Superior Court, Deschanel says she was on tour performing with her musical group She & Him when “Jackson brought the two strangers in the dressing room to help further [the manager’s] career and to potentially generate revenue for [the firm],” states the cross-complaint.
That’s not all she’s alleging.
Seven Summits originally brought the lawsuit in December 2015. The firm said it had represented the star from 1996 to 2013 and demanded 10 percent of what she received for selling the female-focused site Hello Giggles. After Deschanel refused, the actress-singer allegedly also refused to pay post-termination commissions for other work including Deschanel’s role on New Girl.
Initially, Deschanel challenged the claim by filing a petition with the California Labor Commissioner asserting that Seven Summits and Jackson had been acting as unlicensed talent agents. But the petition was dropped. Deschanel’s attorney Marty Singer appears to have a new strategy.
Deschanel is now claiming that Seven Summits doesn’t really have an enforceable written agreement — “the document upon which Cross-Defendants rely does not appear to contain [her] signature,” states her court papers — and that the firm has breached fiduciary duties.
She alleges that Seven Summits attempted to take advantage of Deschanel’s relationship with Creative Artists Agency by requesting that agent Jim Toth set up a meeting with an actor that Seven Summits sought to manage. When the actor wouldn’t sign up, Seven Summits allegedly decided to retaliate against CAA by encouraging Deschanel to switch to UTA “despite the fact that [Seven Summits] knew CAA and the agents representing [Deschanel] were (at the time) the agency and agents most well-suited for [her] entertainment career and that changing to UTA was not in [her] best professional interests.”
After she terminated Seven Summits in 2013, Deschanel switched back to CAA. Two years later, shortly after many CAA agents (including hers) defected for UTA, triggering a separate lawsuit, Deschanel again moved over to UTA.
In her cross-complaint, Deschanel also alleges that Jackson has sought to get producer credits on projects the actress was involved in as well as tried to obtain backend participation for her work. Deschanel attempts to create a portrait of a manager whose actions were self-serving. She’s demanding disgorgement of all commissions since January 2013 as well as declaratory relief that Seven Summits has no right to collect commissions on her earnings or any monies received from investments.
“This is just another attempt by Ms. Deschanel to muddy the waters and not to pay the commissions owed,” Seven Summits attorney Kenneth Freundlich tells THR. “We intend to vigorously litigate against this cross-complaint.”