Here are 534 thousand reasons not to ignore the California Talent Agencies Act: It became a key, pricey part of a dispute between Duane “Dog” Chapman, the A&E reality TV star bounty hunter, and Boris Krutonog, an executive producer on the long-running series Dog the Bounty Hunter. As noted by the Hollywood Reporter, Krutonog sought not only an executive producer credit on the hit show but also a fee. A producer’s fee taken by a talent agent isn’t typically a big deal. But at all pertinent times mentioned in a complaint filed by the Chapman, he asserted that Krutonog was unlicensed to procure employment for an artist (as set forth in Labor Code §1700.4(a).) To seek fees without such license violates section §1700.5 of the Labor Code, in connection with the definition of talent agency as defined in §1700.4(a). The Commissioner ruled he had to give up his producer fees because unlicensed Krutonog could not lawfully collect any fee. The Labor Commissioner ruled the fee was akin to a disguised agent’s commission, collected by an unlicensed agent procuring employment for his talent, Dog. The remedy — give up $534,450. That decision came five years after Chapman submitted his claim and almost three years after it was submitted for a decision.
Provision §1700.5 of the Labor Code says “no person shall engage in or carry on the occupation of a talent agency without first procuring a license therefore from the Labor Commissioner.” Before the Superior Court can get involved, talent agency act claims must be brought before the California Labor Commissioner.
Krutonog hopes to overturn the decision and has said he plans to appeal in Superior Court, arguing that the original commissioner retired mid-case after a hearing and another issued the opinion. His attorney asserts that a fair hearing could only be provided by the commissioner who heard evidence and could weigh witnesses’ credibility.
This also isn’t the end of the story for Dog, who is contesting other producer fees taken by Krutonog via litigation pending in New York, in which he seeks $4 million.