While Bethenny Frankel was still part of The Real Housewives of New York City cast, she introduced to viewers and the other housewives her Skinnygirl Margarita, which was a low calorie version of the widely enjoyed alcoholic beverage. After she exited the series she retained representation from a Los Angeles-based agency called Raw Talent to help her find a distributor for the recipe. Bethenny and Raw Talent were successful in selling the Skinnygirl Margarita to Beam Global (which is the spirits company that manufactures Jim Beam bourbon and Sauza tequila) for something like $120 million. But now, the partnership has gone south and Raw Talent is suing Bethenny in L.A. Superior Court for $12 million (10% of her $120 million deal with Beam Global) and $100 million in punitive damages.
Raw Talent’s argument is that its co-president, Doug Wald, met Bethenny in 2008, and she told him she wanted to have her own reality show. Wald alleges he then introduced Bethenny to some agents at APA, who represent reality stars. Raw Talent’s complaint against Bethenny says she signed with APA on August 7, 2008 and hired Wald as her personal manager (which meant Raw Talent would get 10% of anything she earned) and as the lawsuit states, “she expressly represented that any agreement relating to the exploitation of the Skinnygirl Cocktail Brand would be commissionable under their their management agreement.” Wald also says he introduced Bethenny to David Kanbar (formerly of Skyy Vodka), who created a business plan with Bethenny to help her recipe get purchased by a distributor. Afterwards, Ward says Bethenny fired him in November of 2008, just before she signed the deal with Beam Global and failed to pay him or his company for their efforts in helping Bethenny get her own reality show and a distributor for her Skinnygirl Margarita.
Obviously this is a mess and technically, it’s not very nice of Bethenny to cut Ward and Raw Talent out of the earnings that they clearly helped her get. However, if she can prove that she fired Ward and ended her relationship with Raw Talent specifically because they were bad for her business, then she might have a chance at not having to pay anyone $112 million. However, it’s pretty clear she owes Raw Talent something (my Christopher Meloni desktop picture assures me that is so).