Terrence Howard has sued his former agency CAA, alleging a breach of fiduciary duty, constructive fraud, and fraudulent representation. In a press conference, he accused CAA of prioritizing its interests over his, expressed concerns about industry conflicts of interest, and hinted at potential racial bias in compensation practices.
Howard hinted that the lawsuit could be a significant setback to his career, according to BET. “I trusted CAA to look after me, and they looked after themselves,” he said, adding that he “never received the compensation as a producer or any of those things that are immediately given or asked for by agents of white actors.”
Howard accused CAA of not prioritizing his interests while representing producers Lee Daniels and Danny Strong for “Empire.” The actor claims CAA, as the packaging agent, waived its fee and assured him compensation would be separate. Unfamiliar with packaging deals, Howard believed his agents were acting in his best interests, unaware of conflicts of interest. This prompted him to make a legal complaint alleging breach of fiduciary duty. Howard’s complaint against CAA revealed his initial commendation for the agency’s avoidance of “double dipping” on fees as a packaging agent.
Despite the initial trust he held in the agency, the lawsuit alleged that over time, CAA prioritized its financial interests and those of production companies over Howard’s. Despite the success of “Empire,” Howard’s salary did not see a proportional increase, he said. He was initially paid $125,000 per episode as negotiated in the pilot agreement. “The pilot agreement also established an episodic fee schedule for several seasons in the event that the series was picked up by the network.”
In 2016, Howard renegotiated his per-episode fees for “Empire” but the lawsuit claims his overall compensation remained below the standard for a lead actor in a highly successful show. When seeking a salary increase comparable to other lead actors, CAA allegedly provided misleading figures, excluding popular shows like “House of Cards” and “Mad Men.”
Kevin Spacey’s pay for “House of Cards” and John Hamm’s for “Mad Men” were pegged, with a specified total episodic fee for Season 4 as $450,000 and $350,000, respectively.