Oksana Baiul sues William Morris Endeavor Agency (threads merged)

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by Badams, Nov 21, 2012.

  1. Badams

    Badams Well-Known Member

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  2. LEO59

    LEO59 New Member

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  3. jenniferlyon

    jenniferlyon Well-Known Member

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    Wouldn't her age at the time be more of an issue than her lack of English proficiency? An adult would know better than to sign a contract in a foiregn language without hiring a lawyer who knows both languages. A 16-year-old kid wouldn't have a clue, especially a recent arrival from the former Soviet Union.
  4. Sabasushi

    Sabasushi New Member

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    Also, who was her guardian at the time, if she had any?
  5. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    IIRC her coach Galina Zmievskaya was her legal guardian in the US.
  6. Alex Forrest

    Alex Forrest Banned Member

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    I will try to restrain myself. Galina, her "coach" and "mother surrogate" took 30%, then Oksana's agent's/PR took another 30%. OFF THE TOP. Before taxes. She made very little. I thought she was with Lipinski's agent Mike Burg at the time?

    I think it is horrible that a 16 y/o depended on Galina and the ones she was paying a percentage when she's in a new country, can't even speak the language. But I guess that's how business is in the USA. Her DWI wasn't a help, but I never thought she ever had help. Christ she was a 12 y/o orphan for all she knew. All she knew was the ice rink.. I'm glad she won Oly gold. Her life is a story about survival. 100% in her corner.
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  7. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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  8. love_skate2011

    love_skate2011 Well-Known Member

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    I blame Galina :cool:
  9. Iceman

    Iceman Well-Known Member

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    When she signed with Farina in 2011, they announced she was embarking on a Global return after four years of semi-retirement.
    Anyone know how that turned out.
  10. Southpaw

    Southpaw Saint Smugpawski

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    Good grief, did she actually sign that contract without an English speaking attorney advocating for her interests and explaining the contract language to her??? If she did it really sucks that only now is she realizing what a mistake THAT was.
  11. euterpe

    euterpe Well-Known Member

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    I think Oksana has run out of money.
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  12. Sylvia

    Sylvia Whee, summer club comps!

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    August 2012 news posted on the Farina Company website:
    http://www.farinaco.com/index.php?o...ducing-russalia&catid=1:latest-news&Itemid=63
    Excerpt from the beginning:
  13. Coco

    Coco Well-Known Member

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    I don't doubt she was taken advantage of financially. I hope she gets a fair shake in all of this.
  14. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

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    Wasn't Tara Modlin also Oksana's manager for a time?
  15. GoGreen

    GoGreen New Member

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    I wonder what is the normal % an agent take? 30% does seemed a lot.
  16. victoriaheidi

    victoriaheidi New Member

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    Agents take 10%. 30% is outrageous. And another 30% to Galina? She got screwed. How crummy that a 16-year-old orphan without English language skills had no one advocating for her.
  17. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    Agents get 10%. But if the person is her "manager", there is no set percentage.
  18. Alex Forrest

    Alex Forrest Banned Member

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    Yes, I was getting ahead of myself. Agents usually take from 10-15% commission, but then you have publicists, managers, etc. It was rumored that Galina was getting 30-40%, but I'm not sure if that was at the same time as the management with someone else, though it was supposedly Mike Burg who arranged the $1.5M deal for her competitions right after Lillehamer, and Galina was absolutely in the picture at the time. So both got a piece of her.
  19. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    Look at this company's list of clients. One of these things is not like the others....

    http://farinaco.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=53

    Oksana might have been ripped off by previous managers when she didn't know any better, but surely she should be more savvy now. And given this company's apparent expertise with skating shows and representing skaters (ie, none), it looks like she's headed for another financial mess.
  20. Southpaw

    Southpaw Saint Smugpawski

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  21. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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  22. Alex Forrest

    Alex Forrest Banned Member

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    Sometimes it's worse, other times it's good to be that close to your manager and $$$. It's difficult to know who to trust but I for one would rather keep it in the family so to speak. Tough situation.
  23. victoriaheidi

    victoriaheidi New Member

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    I think Oksana's problems now are a reflection of the lack of support she had way back when. It's a shame that everyone wanted a piece of her and no one taught her the skills to make it on her own. She can spot what went wrong last time, but if she can't identify it off the top, she'll wind up in the same situation over and over again.
  24. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    If the business part of it goes sideways, it's even more difficult to sort out if you're personally involved with the manager. And you never know when the business part might fall apart.
  25. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    She doesn't seem to have the knowledge/skills to keep it from happening over and over again.
  26. AragornElessar

    AragornElessar Well-Known Member

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    This is just so sad and criminal on so many levels, I don't know where to start. Due to that, I'll just say I've always liked Oksana and have always been pulling for her and her happiness that she deserves after all she's been through in her life.
  27. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

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    What happened to her husband(s). The first one seemed down to earth and had his own career. He told her skating was what she did not who she was, in an attempt to get her to develop some other interests. I wonder if he turned out to be no good or she is just too damaged to trust anyone.
  28. AxelAnnie

    AxelAnnie Well-Known Member

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    Just for the sake of the other side..... I don't know what standard agent fees are......but Galina took her in, supported her, and all (IIRC) without any financial help. I don't think it is horrid that she received a portion of Oksana's earnings. And, if Galina was her guardian, was not that relationship sanctioned in the US - in which case, as a minor, Oksana's arrangements would have (I think) been overseen by a family court judge (but maybe that is just for young actors).

    What a drama her life has been.
  29. my little pony

    my little pony snarking for AZE

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    doesnt galina still have her OGM? if yes, i think that says a lot about her.
  30. jenniferlyon

    jenniferlyon Well-Known Member

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    Burg wasn't Oksana's agent, but she did do a series of shows/pro comps for him. Her agent after she won the Olympics was a man named Michael Carlisle, who was with William Morris at the time. Before then, Oksana's agent was Michael Rosenberg, who handled many of the Tom Collins tour skaters. (Yeah, that's a lot of agents named Michael. And no, I didn't remember all this off the top of my head; I had to go look some of it up.)

    True, the DWI didn't help, but Oksana had already been exploited for years before that happened.
  31. Coco

    Coco Well-Known Member

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    I think Ari Zakarian was her agent at some point. He was in the car with her when she got the dui, iirc.
  32. GoGreen

    GoGreen New Member

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    I don't think Ari Zakarian was ever her agent, more like a friend. Zakarian mentioned that Baiul called him for help after the accident.
  33. halfloopy

    halfloopy New Member

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    At one point it was pretty common for Russian coaches to be paid a percentage of the skater's earnings instead of fee for coaching. I beleive some coaches still work that way in Russia. Now whetehr a percentage of 30% is fair, and for how long the skater should be on the hook are seperate questions.
  34. Willowway

    Willowway Well-Known Member

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    Michael Carlisle, who IIRC speaks Russian, was her agent at Wm. Morris for a while. He subsequently left Wm. Morris, opened his own very successful literary agency. He is an up and up guy and Wm. Morris which is huge and reps (and has since time immemorial) extremely successful and high earning (many millions) folks, doesn't need and didn't need to "exploit" a minor to make a few extra bucks. Ilia followed Oksana to Wm. Morris and Michael very successfully.

    I doubt if Galina took anything that wasn't customary and earned (but Oksana isn't suing Galina and probably won't because Wm. Morris is a much deeper pocket to go after), so I don't know if payments to Galina are really in question in the suit. Galina helped Oksana to a medal that should have guaranteed her future. If that money was not managed well over the last 20 years Galina had little or nothing to do with that.

    The good news here is that large agencies like Wm. Morris keep very careful books and records. I am sure the numbers are quite transparent and if OB thinks she can make something out of them, she certainly has the freedom to sue. She's not going to get a penny from them unless it is really owed. So we'll see if it is really owed as this plays out.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2012
  35. Iceman

    Iceman Well-Known Member

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    A global tour sounds much too ambitious and would be quite costly. I think it is doomed to fail. Sounds like something come up with during a manic episode. I hope this man doesn't lead her into complete financial ruin the way Dorothy Hamilton's husband did her. Her early years are very unfortunate, but she had the resources to get imo much needed therapy and to educate herself.
  36. Coco

    Coco Well-Known Member

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    You're right, he wasn't her agent. He was the passenger that night, though. According to people he broke his finger in the accident.

    http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20143429,00.html
  37. Vash01

    Vash01 Well-Known Member

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    She was only 16 years old, in a foreign country, with a completely different culture. It is possible that they took advantage of her, but is a 16 year old allowed to sign a contract without an adult/guardian's signature?

    About 30% to Galina- I don't see that as outrageous, as long as Oksana knew about it and agreed to it. If not for Galina, where would Oksana be today? Galina took her into her home, coached her, Viktor bought her skates and dresses. IMO she owes these two a lot more than she admits. Whatever personal problems they may have had later does not erase the fact that she became an Olympic champion because of their help. Otherwise she would be a nobody today.
  38. Willowway

    Willowway Well-Known Member

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    It would be nice if we had a contract lawyer here to comment. I'm not one of those but I did a minute of research just looking to confirm that a minor cannot enter into a contract in New York state. They can't (and I don't believe could at the time we're referencing here). The judicial review of contracts with minors is interesting:

    New York also authorizes judicial approval of minor entertainers' contracts. Like
    California, such approval applies to contracts by performing artists and professional
    athletes. However, under New York law, a judge may refuse to approve the contract
    until the parents (if entitled to the minor's earnings) or the minor (if entitled to the minor's
    own earnings) agrees to set aside a portion of the earnings to be placed under the
    control of a guardian. The court generally will determine the amount of earnings to be
    set aside by considering the following:
    • The parents' financial circumstances
    • The needs of the minor's family and parents' other children, if any
    • Whether the minor is married
    Finally, under New York law, most terms of the minor's employment contract may not
    exceed three years from the date of approval.

    I think the point here is that although there is always opportunity for abuse of the contract if a party chooses to do that, there are some checks in place when it comes to a contract entered into on behalf of a minor. Is it clear from the filing who was OB's legal guardian or representative for these purposes at the time? Who signed for her?

    Edited to add - this suit was filed in California but CA has similar rules about contracting with a minor.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2012
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  39. euterpe

    euterpe Well-Known Member

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    I don't think Oksana ever got married. She has had a string of fiances, but didn't marry any of them.
  40. Sasha'sSpins

    Sasha'sSpins Well-Known Member

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    ITA. I hope Oksana wins this one. If she has indeed run out of money as someone here suggested-it doesn't make it okay if she was taken advantage of as a minor. I don't know what her situation is of course but if she owns an estate in Pennsylvania-she must be at least okay for now.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2012