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KMR Agency Suspends Franchise With SAG-AFTRA Amid Major Client Payment Delays

EXCLUSIVE: The KMR talent agency, which has been grappling with “talent payment breakdown,” has suspended its franchise with SAG-AFTRA. KMR owner and President Mark Measures today sent a letter to the guild, informing them of the decision.

“After careful consideration and much deliberation, I have concluded that it is in the best interest of KMR and its clients to temporarily inactivate our franchise with the union,” he wrote. “This decision is not taken lightly, but it presents us with the opportunity to address and rectify the issues that have been causing significant distractions in recent times.”

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The move, which we hear left agents inside KMR blindsided, comes after Deadline revealed last Friday that agency clients had been waiting for months to get their payments. Over the past week, we learned of more KMR checks that have bounced though at least one person saw their latest checks clear.

In the letter to SAG-AFTRA, Measures addressed the problems.

“I want to assure you that I am fully committed to taking all necessary steps to correct these issues, including ensuring that all KMR client claims are handled appropriately,” he wrote. “Additionally, we will be restructuring the agency to ensure a stronger launch when we ask to reactivate our franchise with SAG/Aftra.”

Measures has not returned Deadline’s request for further comment on how overdue payments would be handled. In SAG-AFTRA’s letter to members today on KMR’s suspension, the guild informed them of the Procedure for Filing a Claim Against Your Agency for Undistributed Funds.

SAG-AFTRA also notified them that “members shall not be under any obligation to pay commissions to the agent on any money earned by members after the termination of SAG-AFTRA agency contracts, even though such monies are earned by members on employment contracts in existence at the date of termination of the agency contracts.”

KMR “may retain and collect any commissions earned under said contracts prior to the inactivation of the franchise,” the union said.

In his letter to SAG-AFTRA, Measures noted that “there are clients who are understandably unhappy with the recent challenges we have faced” while also saying that “I am heartened by the overwhelming support and understanding shown by the majority of our clients. Their willingness to afford us the time to rebuild speaks volumes about the strength of our relationships.”

He reiterated a commitment to get KMR back up, saying that “we will emerge from this temporary setback as a stronger and more resilient agency.”

Meanwhile, KMR agents have been evaluating their options, with a number of them leaving for other jobs. Jamie Hernandez, Head of Adult On-Camera Commercial, and talent agent Alicia Ruskin, Partner/SVP, announced to clients today that they will be opening their own shop, True Artists Agency, with at least one other KMR employee joining them. Valerie Chiovetti also is said to be eyeing another opportunity.

The franchise suspension comes a week after KMR exited the Association of Talent Agents (ATA), the trade organization of talent agencies that negotiates agency franchise agreements with the major entertainment guilds and does legislative lobbying on behalf of its members.

In the interview with Deadline last Friday, Measures blamed the disruption on banking issues, the crashing of a database involved with payment, and the loss of KMR’s Head of Talent Payment, stressing that the agency is actively “working [its] way out.”

Also known by the name Kazarian/Measures/Ruskin & Associates, KMR Talent began as The Wormser Agency, which in 1957 became the first voice-over and commercial agency in Los Angeles.

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