Clarissa Settles It All

Decorative Scales of Justice in the Courtroom

Comebacks can be costly.  Melissa Joan Hart starred in a couple of hit TV shows in her career, Clarissa Explains It All (1991-1994) and Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1996-2003), both aimed at the teenage demographic.  After that, she wasn’t quite so young anymore (just 15 at the start of Clarissa, surprisingly), and thus wasn’t the best choice to sell TV shows to said demographic anymore.  Consequently, her acting career sort of floundered in the years post-Sabrina.  Sometime in 2006 and shortly after the birth of her first son, Hart hired talent manager Kieran Maguire to help bump her up to the lucrative 25-to-36 demographic and win back her bygone star power.  This tactic turned out to be successful: in 2010, Hart premiered her TV show Melissa and Joey, a family sitcom about parents and motherhood and raising kids and junk.  (Aside: That I, a 23-year-old male, have no interest in watching the show is testament to its intended marketing segment.)  Nevertheless, things were looking good for Mrs. Hart in her successful transition from teenage idol to sitcom matron.

But it wouldn’t be a settlement blog post if there weren’t some sort of drama involved.  In 2011, Hart unceremoniously fired Maguire, who subsequently slapped her with a fraud and breach of contract lawsuit.  He alleged that he was the sole catalyst of her career turnaround and that they had a verbal agreement that he would receive 10% of her salary for Melissa and Joey.  On the face of it, it seems like nonsense.  Why would a talent manager with 5 years experience with a client accept a verbal agreement?  Hollywood movers and shakers are notoriously distrustful of each other — nearly everything, from morning coffee orders to high-level client-manager agreements, is bound in ink.  Whatever actually happened, it appears Hart would rather settle than risk a lawsuit.  No word on what the amount was.  Maguire claimed the agreement was for 10% of a $122,700 salary, so odds are the settlement was for about that much over like two or three years.  Also, Melissa Joan Hart’s greatest accomplishment is her role in the late-90s masterpiece Can’t Hardly Wait, so let’s not allege that landing Hart a job on Melissa and Joey is anything groundbreaking here.

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