GMA Network issues statement responding to actress Sarah Lahbati’s allegations of "under-the-table" deals with ICONS talent management

The controversy involving Sarah Lahbati and GMA Artist Center started when, as PEP reported, the actress accused the network’s talent management arm of doing "under-the-table" deals with talent-management group ICONS.


The controversy involving Sarah Lahbati and GMA Artist Center started when, as PEP reported, the actress accused the network’s talent management arm of doing "under-the-table" deals with talent-management group ICONS. Amind blind items alleging that she was acting up, Lahbati posted a series of tweets to tell her side of the story. Below is a consolidated segment of her tweets:


"ICONS is a talent management company that has nothing to do with Gma Network, it’s not a subsidiary company of Gma Artist Center... there had been rumors for a long time that they work under the table for Gma artist center. Attorney Felipe Gozon our big boss, who I only have good words for, wanted to get to the bottom of this mess but didn’t have proper evidence."


"It became almost like a myth in the network. One day my mother & I was asked by Mrs. Annette Gozon Abrogar & Arsi Baltazar(artist center head executives) to have a meeting with them regarding my career. When I arrived at our meeting place in Fridays Tomas Morato I was shocked because they were convincing me to sign a contract w/ ICONS talent management that is headed by Mr. Bebong Munoz & Andrew Dee. They promised me projects and endorsements, I don’t know why two top executives of the Artist Center wanted me to sign with another... management company and get another 15% from my salary. After giving us a copy of the contract, my mother and I said that we will think about the offer & we will also discuss it with my dad."



"My family declined the offer because we didn’t know Bebong Munoz & Andrew Dee, plus the deduction of 40 percent was too steep. Mrs. Anette Gozon-Abrogar and Arsi Baltazar told me that a lot of artists from Gma Artist Center already signed with the ICONS company and they will be prioritized so I should do the same."


PEP later published Gozon-Abrogar’s statement refuting Lahbati’s accusations. The full statement below was emailed by Angel Javier, assistant vice president for corporate communications of GMA-7, at 9:58 p., on Monday January 7:


"Sarah’s tweets contain false and malicious claims and cannot be used to defend her actions.

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I have treated artists and all talent managers professionally, fairly and above board.

Moreover, Sarah’s projects and shows for the whole of 2012 easily belie her claims of being treated unfairly by the Network.

I have already consulted my lawyers for any legal action that I can take against her."


Menwhile GMA Network has also issued a formal statement addresseing Lahbati’s claims. The full version of the said statement is published on GMA News Online. Below is an excerpt:


"Regarding the issue of the supposed referral by some Network executives to ICONS Management, the Network reiterates its earlier statement that it did not authorize the co-management contract with ICONS Management. Concrete actions have been taken and penalties have been imposed on the executives who were found liable.


The Network found no proof of her allegation that there was an "under the table" deal between GMAAC and ICONS Management. The Network has a policy of prohibiting and penalizing any such "under the table" deal between any of its executives and employees and others dealing with the Network. This policy is strictly enforced and implemented.



If Sarah can prove later her accusation against ICONS and GMAAC, the Network will not only stop dealing with ICONS but will also penalize those who are guilty of such anomaly.


Sarah also mentioned that non-ICONS talents like her are treated unfairly. The Network's substantial investment in her easily belies this. On top of her being a home-grown exclusive talent of GMA, whom the Network developed, trained and promoted, she is also one of the Network's priority stars.


GMA artists like Marian Rivera, Dingdong Dantes, Heart Evangelista, Jennylyn Mercado, and other bigger stars than Sarah who are also non-ICONS talents are not complaining about the treatment they are getting from the Network.


Interestingly, it was after the Network required Sarah to cancel her illegal co-management contract with Royal Era Entertainment & Artist Management of Annabelle Rama, the mother of Sarah's current boyfriend, Richard Gutierrez, that she unilaterally declared her going on a one-month leave of absence and started to complain about GMAAC.


The co-management contract violated the exclusive terms of Sarah's contract with the Network. GMA Network would have had no choice but to sue Sarah and Royal Era Entertainment for the said breach had they refused to rescind said co-management contract."


For more on this story, log on to PEP and GMA News Online.

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