March 24, 2020

Daily Journal Quotes Lee Brenner on Force Majeure Provisions in Entertainment Contracts

2 min

On March 24, 2020, Lee Brenner was quoted in Daily Journal regarding force majeure provisions in entertainment contracts. According to the article, force majeure provisions relieve parties from contractual obligations in hugely disruptive and largely unpredictable “act of God” situations.

COVID-19 has had a serious impact on filming schedules both foreign and domestic, according to Brenner. "There’s not going to be, in my mind, any reasonable dispute from a production standpoint that we’re in a force majeure position,” said Brenner. “So, the question from there is: What does that mean?”

It means productions can terminate their contracts with their talent, Brenner said, but that would mean losing, for example, the actor’s exclusivity rights.

“The actors want to get paid. But what happens if you’re halfway through filming a series? Let’s say you want to keep the talent. What do you pay them?” Brenner said. “Do those with exclusivity provisions get paid more now because they’re just waiting around?”

Brenner expected talent in certain circumstances would have great leverage in negotiations until those questions receive more concrete answers. But for now, he said, it seemed most companies are happy to cooperate.

“You’ve got to make sure people can get home safely, both the people behind the camera and in front of it. And right now, we’re seeing TV networks behaving like responsible employers. They’ve changed their plans in the interest of safety,” Brenner said.