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Reality star and entrepreneur Bethenny Frankel is being sued for $100 million by her ex-managers, Raw Talent, who claim that they helped broker the $120 million deal between Frankel's Skinnygirl cocktail line and Fortune Brands' Beam Global, only to find themselves cut out of the rewards afterward. The case started Wednesday in the L.A. Superior Court.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Raw co-president Doug Wald says that he met Frankel, 40, in May 2008, during her stint on The Real Housewives of New York City. Frankel -- who currently stars in her own Bravo reality series, Bethenny Ever After, and reportedly also has a new talk show in the works -- has always been quite open about how she wanted to use her reality TV stardom "single-handedly and exclusively for business." Wald claims that Frankel asked him for help in that regard. He says he introduced her to representatives at APA, an agency that specializes in reality stars. Frankel signed with APA in August 2008, but allegedly made an oral agreement to retain Wald as her personal manager -- meaning that Raw would get 10 percent of her earnings.
Wald says he subsequently introduced Frankel to liquor industry mogul David Kanbar, who put together the business plan for building up Frankel's Skinnygirl cocktail brand and eventually selling it for a massive profit. However, Raw Talent says that Frankel unceremoniously fired Wald in November 2008, mere days before she signed her deal with Kanbar. Seventeen months later, Frankel and Kanbar struck a $120 million deal with Fortune Brands' Beam Global, the world's fourth-largest spirits distributor.
The complaint by Raw Talent reads, in part: "(Frankel) expressly represented that any agreement relating to the exploitation of the Skinnygirl Cocktail Brand would be commissionable under their management agreement."
As a result, the company is suing Frankel for 10 percent of that deal, or roughly $12 million, and seeking $100 million in punitive damages for fraud and breach of oral contract (among other things). The lawsuit states, "Notwithstanding her clear and unambiguous agreement and obligation to pay Raw Talent its 10 percent commission, Frankel now refuses."
Did Raw Talent get a raw deal, or are they just trying to ride Frankel's fashionable coattails? That's for the courts to decide now.