‘Empire’ Star Terrence Howard Sues CAA for Negotiating Show Salary Below Industry Standard

The actor alleges agents packaging the Fox deal placed their interests over his when negotiating his talent fee

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Terrence Howard has filed a lawsuit against CAA for breach of fiduciary duty for negotiating his salary for the hit Fox show “Empire,” which Howard alleges was below industry standard.

The civil suit, announced Friday and filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges that Howard’s CAA agents who packaged the deal with Fox prioritized their interests and the interests of other clients — including the producers of the show, whom they also represented — above Howard when negotiating his talent salary for “Empire.” As a result, the agents encouraged Howard to accept a deal the suit alleges was “far less than what he should have been afforded.”

His agency’s confidence in the deal led Howard to believe the salary was up to industry standard and he accepted the wages as the musical drama television series aired from Jan. 7, 2015, to April 21, 2020 on Fox. However, due to recent discoveries, Howard alleges the agents’ representation of industry standard was untrue, leading him to believe he was “entitled to a much higher salary given the success of the show.”

Howard is represented by attorneys James Bryant and Brian Dunn of the Cochran Firm as well as lawyer Carlos Moore. A spokesperson for CAA declined comment.

Prior to the suit against CAA, Howard has filed a similar claimcagainst “Empire” producer 20th Century Studios for unpaid compensation regarding the show’s merchandise, alleging breach of contract. Conversely, in 2016 Howard was sued by talent manager Authentic Talent and Literary Management for allegedly breaking an oral contract with the companies to continue paying post-termination commissions.

Created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, “Empire” ranked as the No. 1 most-watched broadcast drama in the 18-49 key demographic, and averaged more than $100 million a year in ad revenue per season over the course of its six-season run, per the suit.

Howard starred in the drama series alongside Taraji P. Henson, Bryshere Y. Gray, Jussie Smollett and Trai Byers as well as supporting cast Grace Byers, Kaitlin Doubleday, Gabourey Sidibe, Ta’Rhonda Jones, Serayah, Malik Yoba and Vivica A. Fox.


2 responses to “‘Empire’ Star Terrence Howard Sues CAA for Negotiating Show Salary Below Industry Standard”

  1. Former Agent Avatar
    Former Agent

    Wow is he desperate. First of all what is “Industry Standard”? He had lawyers negotiating the deal. This guy sounds like a litigious baby.

    1. Joanne Divincinzio Avatar
      Joanne Divincinzio

      I believe it to be true. It’s hard to know who to trust when you find out your own agency got a huge part of the show. Keeping the budget low benefited them and the producers who were also their clients. Sounds like a CONFLICT OF INTEREST to me. Guess what Mr Former Agent, I’m not a lawyer but I know a con job when I see one. 

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