Terrence Howard is being sued by Authentic Talent and Literary Management, the company that used to represent him, and the newly instigated legal battle has brought some surprising details to light. In court documents that were filed today, Authentic claims that not only does Howard owe the company hundreds of thousands of dollars in back pay, he also owes them his role as Lucious Lyon on Empire. According to the contract complaint, Authentic’s counsel was instrumental in persuading Howard to take the role in the first place, and then in keeping him from losing it at an unspecified date later on, “[Authentic] intervened with the Los Angeles-based executives of Imagine and effectively saved Howard’s job on EMPIRE by convincing those executives not to terminate Howard from the show.”
As for the money, Authentic says that “Howard hired Plaintiff as his talent manager in the summer of 2013, to help manage his career and the well-documented professional, personal and legal difficulties he was facing.” And considering what we know about the actor’s tumultuous past, that feels like a reasonable assertion for Authentic to make. Howard then terminated his contract with the company in September of 2014, at which time he apparently thanked them for all their hard work on his behalf, and explicitly agreed to fulfill his contractual obligation to provide “10 percent of the gross payments Howard received (and receives) in connection with Empire … regardless of whether he decided to terminate Plaintiff’s employment.” Howard’s contract with the Fox show is written up for seven years, and he owes Authentic a commission “until the end of Terrence’s present contract with Empire,” since they were his management at the time the deal was made.
From the end of 2014 until spring of this year, Authentic acknowledges that Howard was making his contractually obliged payments, but then abruptly stopped, and now the bills are mounting up. “Despite the patience and respect extended by Plaintiff to Howard,” reads the complaint, “Howard has without justification failed and refused to pay Plaintiff any further post-termination commissions. He has failed to do so despite having received millions of dollars from EMPIRE and despite being in a position to receive millions more.” So maybe Lucious Lyon’s season one ALS diagnosis wasn’t meant to be shockingly reversed by a “it was actually Myasthenia Gravis all along” plot twist. And, if what Authentic says is true, Howard is going to need a real-life Cookie to get him out of this legal drama unscathed.