black people and money

Pebbles sues Viacom for $45 Million over the TLC Movie

Pebbles sues Viacom for $45 Million over the TLC Movie

You probably saw this coming.  The singer Pebbles, whose real name is Perri Reed, is suing Viacom over the way she was portrayed in the TLC biopic, “Crazy, Sexy, Cool:  The TLC Story.”  According to Page Six, the singer -turned pastor is asking for $40 million to compensate her for what she says is an inaccurate on-screen portrayal.

She says that she was presented in the film “as a conniving and dishonest business woman who hoodwinked three innocent girls and exploited their talent for her own personal gain.”

The odd thing about this film is that it led to tremendous backlash against Pebbles, who walked away filthy rich, while the girls in the group ended up declaring bankruptcy.  The financial ruin was surprising, since it occurred right as they’d been named the highest-selling female group in history. 

But Pebbles seems to want the public to believe that the girls were simply financially irresponsible and that none of their problems were her fault.  She also says that Viacom “ignored fundamental canons of journalistic and literary conduct by publishing false and defamatory accusations with actual malice.”

Financial Juneteenth lessons from this story:

1) It’s quite common for entertainers to sign their lives away in exchange for their big break.  Part of the reason it happens this way is because nearly all of the negotiating power is on the side of the record label:  They have the resources and more options than the entertainer, leading them to drive a hard bargain.  One way around this is to learn the business side of your industry and find a way to distribute and sell your product without the help of a major label.   MC Hammer, Tyler Perry and Master P were able to strengthen their negotiating positions by selling their products out of the trunk of their cars.  It never hurts to be a business person in addition to being an entertainer.

2) Always read carefully any document before signing it, and if it’s that important, have it reviewed by an attorney.  Sometimes, we can be so anxious for fame and fortune that we’ll sign anything.  The labels are hopeful that you’ll be so high and drunk from the possibility of finally “making it” that you’ll sign nearly anything.  This tactic typically works like a charm.

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