A Wrap Investigation: They say he was looking after himself. He says they’re just naive kids
In hindsight, Kode Abdo probably should have noticed the red flags sooner. The overeagerness. The overselling. The overpromising. But the 35-year-old up-and-coming Australian graphic designer had been so overwhelmed by the feverish pitch from Brad Lambert — how if Abdo signed him as his personal manager, he’d soon have all of Hollywood clamoring for his posters and one-sheets — Abdo overlooked the early warning signs.
Until, that is, the meeting at Disney.
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This was in 2019, as the studio was gearing up for the release of “Avengers: Endgame.” Abdo, who had already made a splash on social media for his superhero fan art — attracting 2.2 million followers under his nom de Instagram, Bosslogic — had landed a meeting on his own with Disney’s president of marketing, Asad Ayaz. But Lambert had insisted on tagging along to help pitch his brand-new client for the biggest job of his career, making poster art for the biggest movie of the year.
Then Lambert started talking and the meeting veered off the rails. “Brad told Asad that he was Robert Downey Jr.’s manager,” Abdo recalled. Suddenly, the room grew quiet. According to Abdo, Asad looked at Lambert and told him that he knew Downey’s team, had worked with them, but he had never seen Lambert’s face nor heard his name. There was a long, awkward silence as, for the first time since Abdo had met him, Lambert struggled to find something to say. “He started stumbling with his words,” Abdo said. “That’s when I knew I f—ed up by trusting him. It was the first time I actually face-palmed in a meeting.”
Alas, it was not the last. In fact, many of Lambert’s other former clients and would-be clients — including Matt Ramos, aka Supes, a 20-year-old TikTok superstar with 2.7 million followers — tell similar stories of forehead-slapping behavior by Lambert, ranging from shocking credit-hogging to shameless self-promotion to botched contract negotiations. At best, they paint a portrait of a charming but bumbling wannabe player with a creatively padded résumé and a largely imaginary contact list of industry figures. At worst, they say, he’s a Hollywood shark who lures impressionable young social media talent with promises of riches and glory, then leverages their hard-earned followings to boost his own personal fame and fortune.
“I live in Australia,” Abdo told TheWrap. “And this was the first time I let a snake this close to me.”
Of course, all of the above is just one side of the story. Lambert, 33, vehemently denies any wrongdoing, describing the complaints against him as the whining of inexperienced millennials who don’t understand how Hollywood works. “It’s really hurtful,” he told TheWrap. “I’ve always done what I could for everyone else — helping them get social media followers and exposure, helping them build their brands and make the most money they’ve ever made on deals. [These complaints] just break my heart.”
It’s not hard in Hollywood to find clients who are dissatisfied with their representation. Swing a dead cat and you’ll likely hit a couple. The difference here, though, isn’t merely the sheer number of Lambert’s unsatisfied customers nor their eagerness to complain about him publicly, but the environment in which Lambert and his ex-clients operate. The intersection of new media and old — where YouTube, TikTok and Instagram influencers bump up against Hollywood agents and managers who have been harvesting and exploiting talent the same way for decades — is full of career traps and other personal and professional hazards. And, as Hollywood agencies and managers pivot more toward the online world, it’s also an increasingly crowded crossroads.
So, is Lambert a Hollywood barracuda? Maybe. The town is swimming in them. Are his ex-clients maybe a tad clueless about the ways of Hollywood? Very probably, yes. What happens when one meets the other? The answer is obvious: nothing good.
The trouble began, as it so often does, on social media.
This was in 2018, when Kode Abdo was starting to take off online for his superhero art — his specialty was turning fan-based casting rumors into over-the-top portraiture, like his rendition of Nick Offerman as Omni-Man (Offerman never played the part) or Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Kraven the Hunter. At that point, Abdo’s Instagram page was brimming with more than 500,000 followers and getting liked by the Russo brothers, the filmmaking power siblings behind the last two “Avengers” blockbusters. That’s when the first DMs from Lambert began to arrive.
“He started off by saying, ‘I just want to make you shine in the field you’re in,’” Abdo recalled. “And then he started throwing out subtle references about representing Robert Downey Jr. and how he worked at Warner Brothers and other companies.”
In point of fact, Lambert had indeed briefly worked for Team Downey, just not as the actor’s rep. In January 2015, he was hired as a development intern, but the job lasted only about five months, according to a rep for Downey’s company, who would not reveal the reasons for Lambert’s departure. After Team Downey, Lambert did work at Warner Brothers, doing a two-year stint in the studio’s digital marketing department. But when asked about his previous employment, Lambert bristled. “My work history with Team Downey and Warner Bros. is not relevant to this story in any capacity,” is about all he’ll say in an email response to TheWrap’s questions. According to two insiders with knowledge of Lambert’s employment at Warner Bros., he was fired.
In any case, by 2018, Lambert was setting himself up as an independent Hollywood manager, looking for young talent to represent. Abdo became his very first client. “I found Bosslogic on social media years ago,” Lambert recalled of his courtship of Abdo. “I approached him as a manager because I saw the potential of him getting work with the studios and brands. I finalized deals for ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ ‘Spider-Man: Far from Home,’ ‘John Wick 4’ and several other studios, brands and campaigns.”
Lambert actually did seal some deals for Abdo — just not always good ones. For instance, with Lambert’s help, Abdo was hired to create what he thought would be a one-sheet for Sony’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” for which he was paid $15,000, “which I was fine with,” the artist said. But then, a fan on Twitter sent Abdo his one-sheet blown up on a billboard and was less fine with it. He’d heard from a friend inside Sony that graphic artists were typically paid $80,000 for billboards. TheWrap has examined the contract Lambert landed Abdo with Sony — and discussed it with an outside agent familiar with these sorts of deals — and it does indeed appear as if Abdo was underpaid, with additional fees for the artwork’s use in billboards and home media left uncompensated. Far more problematic, though, is the very fact that Lambert was negotiating deals at all. That’s not what managers are supposed to do.
According to the Los Angeles Talent Agency Act, only licensed agents are allowed to negotiate contracts, which the law defines as “procuring, offering, promising or attempting to procure employment or engagements for an artist or artists.” When asked directly if he is licensed and bonded as a talent agent in the State of California, Lambert responded, “No, I’m just a manager, which is why I only perform services customary of talent managers in California.” Managers are merely supposed to give clients broad career guidance, not write up contracts. It’s not entirely clear if Lambert violated the act — “it all depends on what a manager does, not what the contract says,” an attorney specializing in the Talent Agency Act who reviewed Abdo’s contract with Sony told TheWrap — but if the Labor Commissioner were to determine that Lambert was in violation, he’d be forced to pay back Abdo whatever commissions he made from the contracts he may have negotiated for him.
By Lambert’s own calculations, that would be about $15,000, since he claims to have helped Abdo earn over $100,000 over their first year together. Except Lambert also claims that he didn’t collect any of his 15% fees for most of that year. “Not only did [Abdo] not pay me, but he was not easy to work with at all,” Lambert said in his defense. “During the duration of our working relationship, he would go behind my back negotiating with clients and miss deadlines for paid work due to… focusing on his unpaid ‘fan art’ for his social media channels.” As evidence, Lambert provided TheWrap with numerous screengrabs of email correspondences between himself and various studios detailing what he described as Abdo’s unprofessional behavior “Brad, I’m not sure what has happened, but it feels like our agreement has fallen apart,” a Lionsgate marketing exec wrote to Lambert in 2019 after Abdo failed to produce art for “John Wick 4,” noting that Abdo had “posted pretty much every day for weeks doing his own pieces, but I haven’t received any tangible update in weeks.” Abdo countered that he actually finished the gig, but Lambert wanted to extend the job and Abdo declined because he wouldn’t be able to meet the deadline.
The final straw between Abdo and Lambert was a deal with Warner Bros over artwork for “IT Chapter 2,” which Abdo himself negotiated without Lambert’s knowledge. “It was about to be my first $100,000 payday,” Abdo said. “But Lambert was not happy that I made the deal myself. He knew the people at Warner Bros. and told them to scratch it and I lost that gig.” Lambert denied scotching the deal, or even being aware of it until it was already falling apart. “I only knew this happened because [Warner Bros.] reached out to me directly, very upset because [Abdo] had missed the deadlines and they were not happy about it,” he told TheWrap. “I was in the dark.” (A rep for Warner Bros. did not respond to the TheWrap’s request for comment.)
Abdo and Lambert ended their relationship shortly after. They haven’t talked in two years.
Like Abdo, Lambert has said he “discovered” Matt Ramos — Generation Z’s Walter Winchell — in July 2020, on social media. The then-19-year-old fast-talking TikToker and Instagrammer had been racking up huge numbers — at that point, he’d just reached 160 million social media impressions — for his hyperkinetic bulletins on the latest superhero casting rumors and other fanboy news.
“He messaged me on Instagram,” Ramos — known to his millions of followers as “Supes” — told TheWrap of his first encounter with Lambert. “He made all these crazy promises to me, saying how he can get me on these red carpets, making all these big promises for my career. I believed him, because I went on his social media and saw pictures of him and Robert Downey Jr. I saw pictures of him walking red carpets. And for me, that’s what I’d been chasing. So I started working with Brad.”
At the time, Ramos had been living in Miami, but he said Lambert convinced him to move to LA. And not just LA, but the same apartment complex where Lambert lived in Burbank. Once he decamped from Miami, Ramos’ red-carpet dreams did indeed start coming true — although, Ramos said, no thanks to Lambert. “All of these opportunities, I was getting them on my own. It was never him getting me anywhere. All of the red carpets I have been on have been the studios inviting me. He’s been my plus one for all of these events.”
Lambert did wrangle some deals for Ramos after he moved to Burbank, like one with Paramount to produce content hyping last summer’s “Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins,” for which Ramos was paid $8,500. But Ramos started to suspect that Lambert was more interested in promoting his own career, not Ramos’. For starters, Ramos’ mother happened to notice that the credits on IMDB for a video Ramos had made to promote a special Miami Heat jersey listed Lambert as an executive producer. “That was a major red flag for me,” he says, “because he was never present for any of that.”
Lambert claimed the video’s director, Immanuel Portus, put his name on the credits — but Portus disputed that. “No, it was a mistake,” Portus told TheWrap. “We don’t associate with him anymore. He was not involved at all with the production as he was spreading misinformation on the production itself.”
Yet another red flag: Lambert began elbowing himself into Ramos’ content, awkwardly appearing with the 19-year-old influencer during interviews with talent and bantering with Ramos in his reaction videos. “[Lambert] said that we were pitching a show to Snapchat together where it would be him and I covering pop culture,” Ramos said, “and we needed to show the world that this duo thing can work. I don’t even know if it was real, but I did whatever I needed to do to make those opportunities he promised happen. Except they never happened. None of those opportunities ever came to fruition. It became apparent to me that he was just leeching off me, my name, to make money and to build his own brand on social media, gain more followers, more fame.”
At times that leeching was quite literal. Ramos claimed that Lambert borrowed $4,000 from him and has not paid him back to this day.
“Early on in our friendship, Matt did send me money,” Lambert admitted in an email. “He knew I was struggling due to the pandemic. I never asked him for anything and he would just casually/randomly send me money to show his appreciation for all that I did for him. He never once stated it was a ‘loan’… Now, almost a year later, he’s saying it was a loan and I owe him money. The irony of this situation is that Matt owes me money for the remaining management deals I did for him.”
Poetically enough, those unpaid fees that Lambert believes he’s owed come to just about $4,000.
The two cut ties last November and haven’t talked since then.
There are other stories. A 22-year-old TikToker with 4.1 million followers — who doesn’t want her name published — started working with Lambert in 2021. Like Ramos, she too was lured to L.A. with promises of Hollywood fame and urged to move into Lambert’s apartment complex. But she too grew disenchanted. “I kind of started to get the vibe that he only works on things that benefit him,” she told TheWrap. “He would take the contacts and big names that I forwarded to him and then make them his own instead of allowing my brand to benefit from it. It was never mutually beneficial.”
The final straw for this client was when she got invited to the premiere of last year’s Chris Pratt thriller “Tomorrow War” and invited her mother as her plus-one. “He got upset,” she said. “He was like, ‘You need to be taking me to these events because I’m the one that’s going to network and get you connections.’” They haven’t talked since.
Yet another young influencer, the scion of a wealthy family in Singapore, claimed Lambert tried to convince her to drop out of college to produce movies together, investing her family’s own money in the projects. She ultimately declined. And another, a 30-year-old TikToker with 2.7 million followers, recalled being courted by Lambert’s hard sell. “He just felt very kind of slimy, telling me who he knows, where he’s been, how much he’s made,” the influencer said. “It immediately put me off.”
For Lambert, hearing all this is terribly upsetting. From his point of view, he’s merely tried to help his young clients break into Hollywood the old-fashioned way, using time-honored tactics that agents and managers have been employing for decades and decades: bluster, hype and wild exaggeration. He also invited TheWrap to speak to another individual he said was a satisfied client, a former NFL star who retired from pro football in 2012. But the ex-player did not return multiple requests for comment to confirm that he was a client or detail Lambert’s work as a manager.
“This has been a traumatic experience for me,” Lambert said. “I’ve always taken the high road because it’s far less crowded and it’s how I was raised. If I can do something nice for someone else, I do it. I always do what I can for other people — elevating them, assisting them, connecting them to opportunities, because I can. The world is full of enough hate and negativity, and for my entire career I’ve tried to be a beacon for positivity, hope, kindness and love. My reputation, credibility, content and brand reflect that.”
Umberto has been covering the fanboy beat & breaking scoops for 20 years with numerous Hollywood trade, newspaper, & magazine mentions to his credit. Umberto has been profiled in such publications as The Washington Post, Variety and Grantland.