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Shandling and Ex-Manager Settle Suit

July 03, 1999|JAMES BATES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

One of Hollywood's bitterest legal feuds ended Friday when comedian Garry Shandling's conflict-of-interest lawsuit against his former manager and close friend, Brad Grey, was settled for undisclosed terms.

Shandling, who starred in the popular HBO series "The Larry Sanders Show," sued Grey last year for $100 million, alleging that Grey improperly leveraged his relationship with Shandling to benefit his other business interests and clients.

Grey denied the allegations and countersued Shandling for $10 million, accusing the star of "The Larry Sanders Show" of "aberrant and irresponsible behavior."

The lawsuit put a spotlight on the increasingly powerful and dual roles that managers play in Hollywood. Managers aren't regulated as agents are and, unlike agents, are allowed to double as producers, as Grey did on "Larry Sanders."

Many producers complain that managers further their careers by getting production credits simply because their clients are hired for a job. Managers argue that they provide numerous services for clients, package films and provide valuable career advice.

Grey heads Brillstein-Grey Entertainment, one of Hollywood's leading talent management and production companies, with such shows as NBC's "Just Shoot Me." His business relationship with Shandling spanned some 18 years before it imploded amid the bitter allegations.

A joint statement said that the settlement would remain confidential, with Shandling and Grey each acquiring from the other "certain interests in various television programs."

Grey said that he was pleased about the resolution and that he was "happy we could achieve it without the necessity of a trial." Shandling was filming and had no comment.

Shandling is understood to have received some of Grey's ownership in "Larry Sanders." Grey is believed to have received some interests in other projects the two worked on over the years.

The settlement came a week after Superior Court Judge Ralph Dau denied a request from Columbia Pictures to postpone the trial so that Shandling could finish the film "What Planet Are You From?" A trial would have forced Columbia to work around Shandling's trial schedule, at nights, on weekends and when the trial was in recess.

Sources close to Grey suggested that Columbia was instrumental in forcing a settlement and that the studio even contributed toward it.

But John Calley, head of Columbia parent Sony Pictures Entertainment, denied both suggestions.

"It's absolutely untrue. We contributed nothing to the settlement," he said.

Calley said that director Mike Nichols was willing to adapt to Shandling's trial schedule, that the shooting schedule wouldn't have been more expensive and that the main concern was whether Shandling would be drained after sitting through the trial each day.

Times staff writer Claudia Eller contributed to this story.

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