Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009 | 12:39 p.m.
Showbiz insiders are in shock over the surprise split between Flamingo star Marie Osmond and Karl Engemann, her veteran manager of 35 years, even more so over the stunning claims and counter claims now flying in a series of lawsuits that have surfaced over the past few days.
We’ve learned that the behind-the-scenes strife festered and exploded over the last-minute cancellation of Marie’s syndicated TV talk show that was to be filmed at the Flamingo in August and September. The project, cleared on some 160 TV stations, was less than a week away from production when Marie exited on Sept. 12.
Marie’s new business and legal representatives in Hollywood urged her to walk from the show over a disagreement with the distributor concerning upfront payments before advertiser bills were paid. It’s believed that Karl, 79, counseled Marie to go forward with the TV series and wait for the advertising bills to be paid.
Insiders say that the project collapsed when she called it quits over the upfront monetary payments, leaving stations and production personnel in the lurch without a five-day-a-week promised program, and the large staff that relocated to Las Vegas from Los Angeles lost their jobs.
On Oct. 23, Marie’s lawyers notified Karl that he was being fired and blamed him for breaches of financial duties, entering into unauthorized contracts and other violations of his employment obligations. He turned right around on Oct. 27 demanding arbitration with his claims for breach of contract.
Karl wants at least $88,000 immediately in overdue, unpaid commissions and said he had represented Marie for 35 years and helped sustain “a vibrant career that continues to flourish.” In the legal documents, he claims he was responsible for the $1.5 million, six-month initial contract for Marie and brother Donny Osmond at the Flamingo that was then extended through the end of next year with then-President Don Marrandino with an additional option to extend through 2012.
Marie also has contracts pertaining to her retail line of home furnishings, her line of dolls sold on a home shopping network, her TV weight-loss commercials, records and TV show appearances.
I’m reliably told that the rift and its open airing of financial allegations have stunned the Hollywood and Mormon communities. Once again, fingers are reportedly being pointed at new lawyers who were retained for the failed TV project.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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