Phillip Phillips’ Bombshell Talent Dispute Moves Forward Despite ‘American Idol’ Producer’s Bankruptcy

A bankruptcy judge held that California's Talent Agencies Act issues are predominant.
Nick Walker

In the complicated, high-stakes legal battle between American Idol star Phillip Phillips and the show’s producer, the latest round is a win for the artist.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Stuart Bernstein is putting an adversary proceeding between Phillips and producer 19 Entertainment on hold, pending a decision by the California Labor Commission on a dispute involving the Talent Agencies Act.

In Jan. 2015, Phillips filed a bombshell petition with the Labor Commissioner, alleging that Idol producer 19 Entertainment and its affiliated companies have “manipulated” him into accepting jobs. His petition centers on California’s Talent Agencies Act, which holds that only licensed talent agents can procure employment. Phillips also claims 19 breached its fiduciary duty to him by failing to disclose material facts and engaging in self-dealing.

If Phillips is successful in voiding his deals as a violation of the TAA, it would send shockwaves through the industry, potentially impacting not only other Idol stars but also other reality TV competition shows.

Since that petition was filed, several more layers of legal issues have been folded into the dispute.

In Sept. 2015, 19 sued music manager Michael McDonald and Mick Management, claiming McDonald “unceremoniously duped” Phillips into attempting to sever his…