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This Is Me v. Taylor

157 F.3d 139 (1998)

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This Is Me v. Taylor

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

157 F.3d 139 (1998)

Facts

Actress Cicely Tyson entered a series of contracts with Elizabeth Taylor (defendant) and Zev Bufman (defendant) for Tyson to star in a stage production of The Corn Is Green. Along with a run of live performances, a video recording and television broadcast of the play were planned. The first contract contained a $750,000 pay-or-play guarantee to account for the opportunity costs of Tyson’s nearly yearlong commitment to the production. This contract was superseded by two others, with one covering the run of the play and the other covering the video recording. The pay-or-play clause appeared only in the video contract, which was between Zev Bufman Entertainment, Inc. and This Is Me, Inc. (plaintiff), the corporation through which Tyson provided her services. However, the video contract cross-referenced the play contract, which provided that the individual signatory—Bufman, on behalf of The Corn Company—was bound along with the production company. The play contract, in turn, incorporated the standard Actors’ Equity agreement, which provided that any signature on an employment agreement extended to any other enterprise directed by the signatory. The production closed after a short run, and the video recording was never made. This Is Me brought an action in district court for the unpaid balance of the $750,000. The jury found that Bufman and Taylor were liable for the unpaid amount, but the court ruled in favor of Bufman and Taylor as a matter of law, reasoning that, on the basis of the video contract, only Zev Bufman Entertainment, Inc. was bound by the pay-or-play clause. This Is Me appealed. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Jacobs, J.)

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