FLASHBACK FRIDAY: ‘N Sync Slams Ex-Manager As “Unscrupulous, Greedy” In Legal Papers (MTV, November 3, 1999)
The battle between ‘N Sync and boy band mogul Louis J. Pearlman went to Def Con five this week as the group filed a countersuit against Pearlman seeking at least $25 million in damages.
The group members and their mothers also unleashed a counterclaim against Pearlman that contained a blistering, detailed verbal assault on the man they once called “big poppa.”
Pearlman, his Trans Continental empire, and BMG Records filed a $150 million lawsuit against the group last month after ‘N Sync left BMG-owned RCA Records for Jive Records (see “‘N Sync Hit With $150 Million Lawsuit”).
‘N Sync first struck back on Tuesday by filing a countersuit against Pearlman and his three Trans Continental business holdings citing fraud, breach of contract, and Pearlman’s breach of fiduciary duty while he was the group’s manager. BMG Entertainment is not named in the lawsuit.
Chasez also claims that Pearlman dissuaded the group from consulting lawyers, never showed them contracts for their BMG or RCA label deals, and pressured them to hire Wright and pay him more than the Backstreet Boys did in order to shift Wright’s focus to ‘N Sync.
Although ‘N Sync’s debut sold three million copies by November 1998, Chasez says the group only received a $25,000 advance (which they assumed was for their RCA Records signing) and a small weekly salary during their 1999 tour.
The boy band’s lawyer said that by 1996, when two of ‘N Sync’s members were still under 18, Pearlman had bound the band to a “web of confusing contracts fraught with self-dealing.” In his statement, ‘N Sync lawyer Adam E. Ritholz claims that those contracts brought Pearlman “50% of all recording royalties and 100% of all advances, plus a further 25% of recording income as management commission.” Ritholz goes on to claim that Pearlman cut himself a similarly large slice of ‘N Sync’s touring pie as well.
Chasez concluded that, “We are painfully aware our careers may be brief. In truth, our fans made us a success… an injunction may be the end of ‘N Sync. However we cannot work with people who have lied to us.”
Responding to the counterclaim, BMG and Trans Continental Records issued a joint statement on Wednesday claiming that the ‘N Sync camp “invented facts” in the court papers. “The false and inflammatory rhetoric contained in the court papers filed yesterday have no place in a court of law, where we are confident that the group’s exclusive obligations to Trans Continental and BMG will be upheld,” the statement concludes.