SpotCo, a leading Broadway advertising and marketing agency, filed suit in New York State Supreme Court against producer Scott Rudin, claiming that he left the company on the hook for $6.3 million in unpaid fees.
The agency that Drew Hodges launched in 1997 with an unorthodox and wildly successful campaign for Rent alleged that Rudin has a pattern of being delinquent with invoices. According to the suit, Rudin owes SpotCo for eight shows, including West Side Story ($2.8 million), King Lear ($1 million) and The Waverly Gallery ($352,000). The oldest of the productions cited, Kenneth Lonergan’s Waverly Gallery closed in January 2019 and was the subject of an expensive Tony Award campaign, which helped secure a best actress award for Elaine May.
“Rudin and [Scott Rudin Production’s] usual practice is to make partial payments on outstanding invoices on the one hand, while requesting additional services on the other,” SpotCo said in the suit. “In other words, while the oldest debts were paid off, new debts were incurred, and the result was that the totality of the debt was never paid in full.”
Jonathan Zavin, a lawyer for Scott Rudin Productions, responded to the suit: “The case has no merit and the defendants intend to contest it vigorously.”
SpotCo has long been Rudin’s agency of choice for buying and producing high-profile advertising in The New York Times, New York magazine and other print media, as well as on television and radio. SpotCo claims that staffers frequently met in Rudin’s office. “The frequency of these meetings increased during awards season or around the opening night of a new production, wherein SpotCo would meet at Rudin’s office daily, or multiple times a day, for around a month.”
The suit also claims that Rudin typically emailed the agency 50 times a day, in addition to telephone calls.
Rudin’s extravagant print campaigns, especially in the Times, have long been a source of discussion along the Rialto, where advertising dollars are more likely to go toward online campaigns. Those print ads often begin more than a year in advance of the actual production, as was the case with the upcoming revival of The Music Man, which has been postponed to spring, 2021.
SpotCo said in the suit, which was first reported by Law360, that it’s owed money for its services and for ads purchased at Rudin’s behest. Rudin’s delinquent practices recently worsened, according to the suit, and around September 2019, a dispute arose between Rudin and the agency over the late payments. SpotCo said it tried to resolve the rift but requests for payment were ignored.
The agency, which is owned by London-based Reach4Entertainment, is seeking to recover the $6.3 million, plus interest, attorney’s fees and unspecified punitive damages.