Does a contractual error let me walk away or are the terms of a talent agreement always legally binding?

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Question:

Question: I’m trying to renegotiate terms in my TV sitcom acting contract. I only appear on the show occasionally. I just landed a big role in a new film and believe I should be paid more for the TV gig. If necessary, I’m willing to walk away from the TV job. When I reread the contract recently, I noticed the section covering payments for residuals was incorrect. Does that contractual error let me walk away or are the terms of a talent agreement always legally binding?

Response: It’s rarely wise to breach the terms of any entertainment talent agreement, unless you have good cause. You should seek out the guidance of an entertainment law professional. He or she can review your contract and determine whether or not you have valid grounds for trying to renegotiate some of its terms with the other party. If you alone decide to break (or breach) the terms of  the contract, your actions could make it very hard for you to find more work in the future, even if you have just appeared in a movie. Also, you might be held liable for any reasonable damages you cause the other party to suffer due to your breach.

Keep in mind that just because you believe the section covering residual payments is incorrect, that may have been something you simply didn’t catch before signing the agreement. If that’s the case, you may still be completely bound by those terms. Ask your lawyer how you should proceed regarding all of these issues.

Answered by Elizabeth Smith

 Additional Resources: Entertainment Talent Agreements

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