Paradigm has responded to fired agent Debbee Klein’s $2 million lawsuit accusing the talent agency and CEO Sam Gores of, among other things, breach of oral contract and whistleblower retaliation.
“We have seen Ms. Klein’s complaint and it is littered with false, frivolous and scurrilous allegations, which, fortunately for her, are protected by the First Amendment, otherwise she would be facing a defamation suit. Both Paradigm and Mr. Gores expect to be 100 percent vindicated, and our intention is to respond further in court filings,” said Paradigm’s outside counsel Dale Kinsella.
The bombshell suit, filed in the Superior Court of California on Wednesday, lands less than two weeks after more than 100 Paradigm employees, including longtime agent Klein, were hit by the company’s “temporary layoffs” amid the coronavirus pandemic. The suit accuses Gores of amassing “vast personal gains by running Paradigm as his personal piggybank” and says he used “Paradigm’s expense account as a slush fund to pay for his sexual dalliances with prostitutes.”
The suit accuses Gores of “tone deaf” handling of the coronavirus pandemic’s effect on the business, saying that he maintained his full salary and kept his personal driver and chef on the payroll even as the agency let scores of longtime employees go — particularly “employees whom Mr. Gores personally felt were being ‘overpaid.'”
The suit also accuses Gores of “financial mismanagement of Paradigm, especially his disastrous negotiations with United Talent Agency, which singlehandedly torpedoed the planned 2019 merger between the two agencies.” Last June, Gores announced that he had “shut down” talks of a merger with UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer.
Klein’s suit also accuses Gores of “repugnant and outdated sexism and demeaning treatment of women,” including requiring female employees to listen to his “disgusting and lascivious comments about his sex life.” The 23-year Paradigm veteran also says she was “less qualified male agents” were promoted ahead of her.
Klein is seeking damages in the amount subject to proof at trial, but that she believes to be in excess of $1.8 million for Paradigm’s alleged breach of contract alone. She is also suing for failure to timely pay wages, for accounting, for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and for retaliation in violation of labor code.