Of all the media agents I've ever known, none has been as paranoid or distrustful of the media as Lisa Miller. She not only goes out of her way to keep her name out of the public eye, but she insists that her clients never, ever have any contact with the press.
I can't tell you how many of Miller's clients over the years told me they were forbidden by her to communicate with me (or other columnists, I presume) no matter how innocuous the inquiry. The irony, of course, is that the bulk of those clients are members of the media themselves -- including her husband, Brant Miller, who's been a Chicago TV weatherman and radio deejay for decades.
So I have no doubt that it must be killing Miller to see her name and her company, Miller Broadcast Management, being splashed all over the media in connection with a lawsuit she recently filed against a former client, longtime Chicago radio personality Jonathon Brandmeier. As reported by the Tribune, the Sun-Times, WLS Radio, ChicagolandRadioandMedia.com and numerous other websites and trade publications, Miller is seeking more than $312,000 in fees and interest she claims to be owed.
Neither side will go into details, but Miller's suit in Cook County Circuit Court said an arbitrator awarded her a six-figure settlement last month for "identification and negotiation of professional opportunities" she had performed before Brandmeier dropped her as his agent. The suit tacks on additional interest of $29.60 a day.
Brandmeier has been off the air since last November when he was cut after four years as morning personality at Emmis Communications classic rock WLUP-FM (97.9). He still had three months left on his million-dollar contract when Emmis chose not to renew it. Under prior ownership, Johnny B. previously worked at the Loop from 1983 to 1997.
Most talent agents will tell you they hate the idea of suing a former client for fees, and do so only as a last resort. It's embarrassing for everyone involved, and exposes contracts, communications and other confidential matters for all (including other clients) to see. It also can be terribly costly and time consuming.
For Miller, whose obsession with secrecy and antipathy toward the press border on the extreme, the prospect of engaging in a nasty and very public legal battle -- especially with a well-liked personality who's now out of work and down on his luck -- must be downright mortifying.