Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Fleetwood Mac Album Producer Sues HarperCollins For Breach of Contract


Ken Caillat is best known in the music business as the man who produced Fleetwood Mac's 1977 album Rumours, one of the best-selling rock records of all time.
That credential in turn garnered him a $555,000 advance from HarperCollins' It Books imprint to write Starting Rumours, an oral history of the making of that record, which the publisher won at auction from Caillat's agent Peter McGuigan of Foundry Media. But last month, Caillat filed suit against the publisher in Ventura County Superior Court alleging that he was rightfully owed his entire advance, and that HarperCollins had breached their contract by not paying him for a manuscript they rejected, and did not sufficiently explain why they rejected it.

The original proposal promised Caillat would obtain new interviews with all the Fleetwood Mac members, as well as with associated studio executives, friends, lovers, roadies and other people who would have been involved with the making of 'Rumours.' As such the original contract draft language said the book would be "based on original interviews with band members."
According to the complaint, "after some doubt arose as to whether the Fleetwod Mac bandmembers would agree to new interviews for the book," the final contract was changed to allow for "some previously published interviews" with band members. Caillat received $138,750, or one-quarter of the total advance, after the contract was executed.

According to the complaint, the first signs of trouble emerged in January 2010, approximately one month before the full manuscript was due to It Books. Caillat submitted "a draft which was approximately one half of the planned manuscript," only for it to be rejected. Caillat reworked the manuscript and submitted a completed draft in May. That, too, was rejected, as It Books is said to have admitted the manuscript "was not even read before the rejection...[which] was based solely on the fact that there were no new interviews from the band, despite the fact that it was not required by the contract." What's more, It Books wanted Caillat to pay back the portion of the advance they had paid him.

Caillat, naturally, thought otherwise, and states HarperCollins violated the terms of their own contract, which said the company "shall give the author a detailed letter requesting specific changes and revisions" if the manuscript delivered was not acceptable. Instead, It Books "did not provide [Caillat] with a letter...as required by the contract, and provided no information as to desired revisions."

Caillat seeks to recover the full balance of the advance as well as $500,000 in punitive damages spurred by "having to incur attorney's fees to defend his rights" and to defend against HarperCollins' claim that he owed them the first quarter of the advance. A spokesperson for HarperCollins had not yet responded to requests for comment; Caillat's editor, Kate Hamill, is no longer with the company. -- S.W.

Complaint (via Courthouse News)

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