'Bachelorette' Trista Rehn sued by ex-agent for cut of wedding proceeds from ABC
By Wade Paulsen, 12/05/2003
Wedding etiquette can be so messy. For example, where do you seat the process server?
That's the question that may be facing ABC's original Bachelorette, Trista Rehn, who is now starring in Trista and Ryan's Wedding, as her wedding (to be aired on December 10) approaches this weekend. On November 19, according to the Associated Press, Trista was sued by her former manager, Kevin Allyn. Allyn asked for $200,000, which is 20% of the $1 million that Trista and her husband-to-be, Ryan Sutter, are receiving from ABC for the wedding broadcast.
In his lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Allyn claims that he negotiated the deal with ABC but Trista unilaterally decided to drop him as her personal manager before signing the deal. His claim is buttressed by the fact that the contract, available on The Smoking Gun, was addressed to "Ms. Trista Rehn" and "Mr. Ryan Sutter" in care of "Kevin Allen" (sic).
Allyn states that he has a 30-year history as a personal manager, and that Trista hired him in May 2002 for three years in return for a 20% commission on television, motion pictures and music projects. He claims that he incurred expenses to retain publicists, who placed her in Maxim magazine (uh, it doesn't seem to us that a beautiful bachelorette would have needed much help for that), and to help pay for her housing. However, the copy of the management contract attached to Allyn's lawsuit was unsigned by Trista, and it is unclear whether she ever signed a copy of the contract.
We give Allyn's lawsuit credit for a creative jibe: "While Rehn understandably might want to keep the $200,000 owed to Allyn as a nice wedding present, basic contract law dictates that Rehn should pay Allyn the monies she owes him and let him choose an appropriate gift from Rehn's wedding registry." However, we find ourselves less impressed with the lawsuit's substance; in true Bachelor-Bachelorette fashion, there is less going on here than there seems to be.
For one thing, California law generally prohibits personal services contracts for talent agents from charging more than 10% as a commission for services. The law, which was passed to protect aspiring young entertainers from slick predators, would be well-known to a "30-year veteran" like Allyn. Allyn apparently attempted to circumvent this law by casting himself as a personal manager, not subject to the cap, instead of an agent. As noted in this article from Slate, managers typically make between 10% and 15% of a client's income -- but they are expressly forbidden from negotiating contracts for clients, as Allyn claims he did for Trista and Ryan's Wedding. We have no idea how Allyn plans to represent that he acted lawfully within the scope of his contract with Trista.
In addition, under normal contract principles, the $1 million fee to Trista and Ryan would be imputed half to Trista and half to Ryan, meaning that Trista's cut of the fee would be $500,000. (After all, the only reason that this wedding is TV-worthy is because Trista and Ryan are the first reality-dating show couple to actually tie the knot.) An agent's 10% commission would leave Allyn with just $50,000 -- not chump change by any means, but still only 25% of his claim.
Considering this, plus the fact that Trista may not have even signed the management contract and that California courts have often refused any compensation to people who act beyond the legal scope of their authority, we find ourselves surprised that Allyn even brought this case to court. Unfortunately, we can only see one reason for it, the same reason that Trista's attorney as Trista's lawyer Stanton "Larry" Stein told Reuters. In his view, it was "motivated by a desire to cause [Trista] pain and embarrassment at a time when she should be enjoying this very special time in her life. Whenever somebody in Hollywood is successful, somebody always sues for publicity or money. This appears to be an attempt to get both."
Based on the facts known at this time, we couldn't have put it better ourselves.