MANILA, Philippines–Actress Sarah Lahbati, who recently demanded for the revocation of her talent management contract with GMA7, has accused network executives of being involved in “under-the-table deals” in relation to the management of other Kapuso artists.
In her Twitter account posted on Jan. 7, the 19-year-old actress revealed that GMA Films president Annette Gozon-Abrogar and GMA Artist Center (GMAAC) head for talent management Arsi Baltazar have arranged a meeting with her to convince her to sign a contract with Icons, another talent management outfit headed by Bebong Muñoz and Andrew Dee.
“They promised me projects and endorsements. I don’t know why (they) wanted me to sign with another management company and get another 15 percent from my salary,” Lahbati said. GMAAC deducts 25 percent from the take-home pay of each of its talents.
Lahbati said she turned down the offer “because we didn’t know Muñoz and Dee, plus the deduction of 40 percent was too steep.” She said Abrogar and Baltazar told her that “a lot of artists from GMAAC already signed with the Icons company and they will be prioritized so I should do the same.”
The actress then said she opted to sign up with Royal Era Entertainment and Artist Management, owned by Annabelle Rama, mom to her boyfriend actor Richard Gutierrez. “This was because I know co-managing with a different company was allowed,” she explained. “Because of double bookings, a messed-up schedule and other unsolved issues, I needed proper management and protection with my career. That was why I asked for Tita Annabelle’s help.”
Lahbati said GMA7 has demanded that she revoke her contract with Rama “or else it will file a lawsuit against me. So why is that Icons Management can co-manage artists?”
For the issues she raised on Twitter, Lahbati was “evidently beclouding the real issue, which was whether or not she indeed violated her contract” with GMA 7, the network said in a statement sent to the Inquirer.
GMA 7 added that “it has not authorized any referrals (to Icons Management) and that concrete actions have already been taken to address the issue.”
The statement also said that Lahbati’s decision to go on leave “despite the network’s disapproval, is a violation of her contract… Her declared trip to Switzerland for an indefinite period, without the prior consent and approval of the network, will be an additional violation of her contract.”
On Jan. 2, Lahbati posted on Twitter that “because of all of this uncertainty and stress, my family and I decided that I go back to Switzerland and study there… This does not mean that I will be gone from the industry and craft that I love… Just a breather from all the chaos.”
The GMA 7 statement also pointed to Lahbati’s decision not to appear on “Party Pilipinas,” where she is a regular performer, as a cessation “to honor her commitments with the network.”
The statement stressed that “under the provisions of her contract, specifically paragraphs 1.3 and 1.4, it is clearly stated that the artist shall perform the role and appear in the television programs, projects and events assigned to her, and conscientiously fulfill faithfully and promptly any and all engagements/booking contracted to her by GMA7.”
“In her tweets, Sarah is also asking to be released from her contract with the network. In the same way that a contract requires the mutual consent of the two parties, there cannot also be a unilateral cancellation of the contract by Sarah alone,” the statement said.
The Kapuso network pointed out that it has “invested heavily on Sarah, being a home-grown exclusive talent and considered as one of GMA’s priority stars. (It) will not simply allow her to walk away from her contract.”
The network also denied Sarah’s claim that it aired “a one sided story about what’s happening” on the Sunday talk show “Hot TV.”
“There was absolutely no truth to this,” said the statement. GMA7 claimed that the show, through its researcher Malou Santiago, contacted Sarah’s handler, Monica Carla Sevillano to get her statement. The show, however “did not receive any response from Sarah.”