I GUESS LADY GAGA WASN’T “FREE” AFTER ALL
Walk, walk, fashion baby / Work it, move that bitch, crazy / Walk, walk, passion baby / Work it, I’m a free bitch, baby
–“Bad Romance” from The Fame Monster
In an opinion just released a federal judge sitting in Newark, New Jersey, has rejected a motion filed by Lady Gaga producer Rob Fusari to reduce a jury verdict rendered against him in the amount of $7.3 million dollars. The $7.3 million dollar verdict followed a weeklong trial from last November. The jury’s verdict was in favor of Wendy Starland, a talent scout who claimed to have introduced Gaga (Stefani Germanotta) to Fusari. (Starland v. Fusari, Docket No. 2:10-CV-04930).
The case stems from a 2005 oral agreement between Starland and Fusari which obligated Starland to find a young female singer, sign her to a contract with a record label and, equally share in the resulting revenues. According to Starland’s complaint in 2005, her and Fusari had been regularly collarborating on writing songs. Starland, a California singer and producer, claimed that she was told in a 2005 face-to-face meeting to find a female singer under the age of 25 who was reminiscent of Julian Casablancas, the lead singer of the band “The Strokes.” Fusari, a Grammy award winning, multi-platinum music producer, songwriter and music executive, currently claims on his website (www.robfusari.com) that he “is best recognized for discovering pop icon Lady Gaga.”
Starland became disgruntled when Fusari did not pay her anything for her efforts to find Gaga, which entailed eight months of searching. According to Starland, Gaga was discovered on March 23, 2006, during a performance at New York’s “The Cutting Room.” A meeting between Gaga and Fusari was then arranged at Fusari’s New Jersey studio. A working relationship was then formed between Gaga and Fusari. The failure to pay Starland, according to her, was in breach of Fusari’s promise that they would together develop the singer and share in her resulting revenues. Starland also claimed that Fusari intentionally excluded her from the negotiations when Fusari formed a company with Gaga and her father in 2006 (“Mermaid Music, LLC”) and when that company signed a contract with Interscope Records, Fusari refused Starland’s request for a share of the money Fusari would receive from the deal. Gaga’s debut album (“The Fame”) followed in 2008 with Fusari being one of the producers on that album.
Yesterday, the judge denied Fusari’s motion finding that it failed because the jury’s award was rationally based on the evidence presented and he also found that the award was not excessive or clearly unsupported by the evidence. With the entering of this judgment this puts an end to the Gaga saga….for now. Stay tuned.