Jennifer Lopez has filed a petition with the California Labor Commissioner accusing her former manager Benny Medina and his Handprint Entertainment of violating the state’s Talent Agency Act by procuring employment on her behalf, among other charges.
According to the filing, Lopez is seeking millions in back commissions plus 10% interest, and she wants to invalidate all remaining partnerships between Lopez and Medina and Handprint. That includes projects the company is producing for her Columbia Pictures-based Nuyorican Prods., as well as other outstanding interests in music, cosmetics and clothing.
The filing alleges that Medina — acting as owner of Handprint as well as a holding company, Laughing Water Music — “intermingles assets of himself and his alter egos for his convenience” and that he acted to “divert and misappropriate monies belonging to (Lopez and Nuyorican) that Medina converted for his own use and to which he had no entitlement.”
The primary charge centers on whether Medina was acting as her agent. Because Medina allegedly procured and negotiated work for her, the petition is requesting that all oral and engagement contracts she had with Handprint be voided. Those contracts saw her pay 10% of earnings from movies and television, 15% of her music, recording and publishing earnings and 10% of her earnings from ancillary activities, including fashion and cosmetic interests.
California’s Talent Agency Act requires that any person who seeks to procure employment for a performer must be a licensed talent agent with the Labor Commissioner. Violation of the act by an unlicensed manager can result in a nullification of any and all contracts and a refund to the performer of any commissions paid to the manager in a one-year period before the filing of the petition.
Lopez is seeking “full restitution to (Lopez and Nuyorican) by repaying all sums” the company and Medina earned on her behalf — a sum that is estimated to be in the eight-figure range.
In response, Medina issued the following statement: “The accusation that I misappropriated money from Jennifer Lopez is both untrue and offensive. Jennifer Lopez, by making false allegations against me, is now trying to add me to the long list of people whom she has used and discarded after she took from them all she could get.
“It is unfortunate that Ms. Lopez is using a Labor Commission suit as a means of mitigating her outstanding financial contractual obligations to my company and me. I look forward to the opportunity to have the world come to know the real Jennifer Lopez. I will defend myself against these lies and will collect from her every dollar for which I am owed.”
According to Medina, Lopez is still a client of Handprint with a contract that extends about a year. The filing came as a surprise to Medina, who said that this week they had been negotiating an end to all the existing businesses they share.
The filing cites several deals allegedly negotiated by Medina on behalf of Lopez, including the starring deal for Miramax’s “Shall We Dance?,” a development deal with L’Oreal Cosmetics and an appearance on NBC’s “Today.”
Lopez has severed ties with other representatives over the past year. In October, she parted ways with management firm ICM, which had repped her for the previous four years. She then signed with Endeavor, where she remained until last month. When she exited that agency, she also parted ways with Medina as well as her publicist.