LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Former “Ugly Betty” cast member Tony Plana owes his former manager more than $200,000 in post-termination commissions and residuals for helping him land the role that took his career to a new level, her attorney told a jury today.
Lawyer Bill Ferguson, in his opening statement in trial of Tracy Quinn’s breach-of-contract suit, told the Los Angeles Superior Court panel that his client is entitled to a 10 percent share of Plana’s salary and other income earned from the hit show that ran for nearly two more years after the actor fired her in July 2008.
The 60-year-old defendant’s lawyer countered that Quinn is owed nothing and that Plana got the role as Ignacio Suarez on “Ugly Betty” when the show began its four-year run on ABC in September 2006 through his own reputation in the industry as a seasoned character actor.
“Tony Plana is gold standard,” Nunziato said. “He is a character actor. He started off playing an Arab terrorist, then a Chicago policeman. He’s paid his dues.”
Ferguson said Quinn and Plana had verbal agreements for her services. Quinn went out of her way to be of help to the Cuban-born actor around the clock when the show moved production from Los Angeles to New York at the beginning of the third season, Ferguson said.
“She didn’t make any money during that period of time,” he said.
After Plana fired her, he left it up to his wife to send Quinn an email to let her know he was not going to pay her any more money, Ferguson said.
“That was absolutely contrary to common sense,” Ferguson said.
But according to Nunziato, Plana never had a manager until 1995, when he hired Robert Schwartz. He said Quinn later became an employee of Schwartz at his business, Slamdance.
Schwartz left the managerial business in 2005 and Quinn joined with Steve Himber to form Himber Entertainment, Nunziato said. Plana agreed to pay Himber Entertainment, but not Quinn individually, 10 percent of all projects for which Plana was paid salary for his services, but the deal did not include residuals, according to Nunziato.
Plana did hire Quinn as his manager in November 2007 when she parted ways with Himber, but he insisted once again that she was not entitled to residuals, that she could be fired at-will and that she was not entitled to any additional money if she was terminated, Nunziato said.
Quinn sued Plana in July 2009. The trial’s first witness, she testified that she started in the entertainment business in 1980, at age 18, as a production assistant for the late TV mogul Aaron Spelling, then worked her way up the ladder to other opportunities within the profession.
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