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HOLLYWOOD UPDATE: DRABINSKY TAPS FORMER FTC COMMISSIONER JOSHUA D. WRIGHT IN ANTITRUST CLAIMS AGAINST ACTORS EQUITY

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In Addition to Original $50M Defamation Suit, Amended Complaint Claims Treble Damages and Injunctive Relief for Unlawful Group Boycott & Conspiracy to Monopolize Under the Sherman Act 

NEW YORK, NY, December 13, 2022 – 

Today, Garth Drabinsky, together with his antitrust counsel, former FTC Commissioner Joshua D. Wright, at Lodestar Law & Economics PLLC, filed an amended lawsuit against Actor’s Equity Association (“AEA”) under the Sherman Act to curb the unlimited concentration of power yielded by the entertainment industry’s actors unions including AGMA, AGVA, GIAA, and SAG-AFTRA, collectively the “4As”. The complaint alleges that AEA has restrained trade by entering into an unlawful group boycott and unlawfully conspiring with the 4As to maintain its monopoly.  

Richard Roth from The Roth Law Firm PLLC will continue to serve as Drabinsky’s lead litigation counsel. (the amended 80 page complaint can be found here

AEA abuses and maintains its chokehold on Broadway productions by blacklisting producers for any pretext, with no opportunity for due process. This power is unlawfully magnified through agreements with the 4As – its sister actor unions in television, film, radio and concerts, effectively manipulating acting talent across the entire entertainment industry.  AEA’s website states with regard to the 4As, “we stand in solidarity with one another”. AEA and the 4As have agreed to blacklist Drabinsky and many other producers, eliminating their ability to produce in any sector of the entertainment industry. 

Blacklisting in the U.S. entertainment industry has an appalling and loathesome history – it has decimated careers and polarized sectors of creative talent. Placement on the Blacklist is not temporary or probationary – it is a permanent ban.  This death knell serves as a stark warning to all producers.  AEA’s boycott of Drabinsky has diminished the output and quality of productions in the entertainment industry—violating Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act.  

Background

The amended complaint filed today in the Southern District of New York expands upon Mr. Drabinsky’s original $50 million lawsuit against AEA (for defamation, intentional tort, and negligence).  The lawsuit alleges that AEA, without prior notice, wrongfully placed Drabinsky on its self-proclaimed “Do Not Work” Blacklist “in any production where he is working as producer in any capacity”.  The blacklisting of Drabinsky was without any prior investigation to assess the unfounded accusations against him.  

Garth Drabinsky, is the multi-award-winning Broadway producer of Paradise Square (recipient of Ten 2022 Tony Award Nominations, and winner of the Best Leading Actress Award). Mr. Wright and his colleagues Derek Moore and Nate Harris, join Richard Roth as attorneys for Mr. Drabinsky.  Mr. Wright was nominated to the role of Commissioner of the FTC by President Barack Obama and served from 2013-2015. He currently directs George Mason University’s Global Antitrust Institute and is widely regarded among the nation’s top antitrust 

attorneys and scholars. Ausra O. Deluard, co-chair of the antitrust practice at Dentons US LLP,

serves as an antitrust advisor.

AEA is a U.S. labor union founded in 1913 representing more than 51,000 professional theatre actors and stage managers nationwide. In order to perform or work on Broadway, all actors and stage managers must be members of AEA.  In order to produce a play or musical on Broadway, producers must contract with AEA under the collective bargaining agreement between AEA and The Broadway League, individual theatres, producers and production entities (“CBA”).  AEA maintains its stranglehold on Professional (live theatre) Productions produced on Broadway and in major cities throughout the United States, through a series of exclusionary agreements designed to limit competition.  The CBA requires Broadway producers to only employ actors and stage managers who are members of AEA, as a condition of employment.  Today, approximately 100% of all actors and stage managers engaged in Broadway productions are members of AEA.

Some members of AEA and the 4As (primarily actors) are also producers.  They specifically benefit from the coordinated agreement to blacklist Drabinsky and other producers because it eliminates them as competitors when these actors also serve as producers of Professional (live theatre) Productions.  

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