The Oscar-winning composer of the score to “La La Land” sued William Morris Endeavor Entertainment LLC Monday, alleging that the agency shorted him out of the profits of a series of live performances based on the 2016 film that starred Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.
Justin Hurwitz’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges that WME had a conflict of interest because it produced the shows while also serving as Hurwitz’s agent. Hurwitz also alleges that WME put its interests ahead of his and engaged in constructive fraud, negligent misrepresentation, negligence, breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and seeks unspecified damages.
“This action stems from WME’s shocking conduct, whereby the talent agency sought to squeeze extra profit out of its client, the renowned composer Justin Hurwitz, behind his back in violation of its ethical and fiduciary duties to him,” the suit states.
Hurwitz seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. A WME representative issued a statement regarding the lawsuit, saying Hurwitz’s claims lacked merit and that WME “intends to vigorously defend itself.”
Hurwitz trusted WME to look out for his best interests and to help maximize his potential earnings, but the composer found out instead that the agency “had been deceiving him — not only pocketing what should have been his earnings, but also lying to his face about it,” the suit alleges.
Part of WME’s representation of Hurwitz included negotiating live-to-film performance opportunities for Hurwitz, in which the agency was obligated to act in the composer’s best interests, the suit states.
“Yet, after Hurwitz won Academy Awards for best original score and best original song for `City of Stars’ for `La La Land,’ WME decided to monetize such live-to-film performances, not for Hurwitz, but for itself,” the suit states.
After convincing Hurwitz to spend months of work adapting his score into a live-to-film concert, WME “repeatedly lied about how much money they were set to make from the tour, convincing Hurwitz to accept a minimal piece of the pie,” the suit states.
As each performance was booked, Hurwitz frequently requested to conduct upcoming sessions, but WME said there was not enough money to hire him, according to the suit.
“In fact, on the occasions Hurwitz was even offered the promised opportunity to conduct his own score, the amount of pay was actually constrained because WME and/or Endeavor Content was taking a fixed profit from every single `La La Land in Concert’ performance,” according to the suit.
The 36-year-old, Los Angeles-born Hurwitz is now represented by Creative Artists Agency.