Kelly Clarkson might be keeping things civil in her divorce proceedings with husband Brandon Blackstock — at least publicly — but the gloves have come off in the battle between the American Idol winner and her former management company behind the scenes. In a filing submitted to the California Labor Commissioner's Office in October, Clarkson claimed that her agreement with Starstruck Management was a "fraudulent and subterfuge device" for her managers to perform "illegal services" as agents despite being unlicensed in the state of California. The singer then identifies two specific members of the Starstruck Management team — her estranged father-in-law Narvel Blackstock and her soon-to-be-ex-husband, Brandon.
This filing was submitted a month after Narvel filed a lawsuit against Clarkson, 38, saying she owed his firm $1.4 million and would ultimately owe an additional $4 million more from money she earned as a judge on The Voice and as host of The Kelly Clarkson Show. "Over the course of approximately thirteen years, Starstruck developed Clarkson into a mega superstar," stated lawyers for Starstruck and the Blackstocks. "By way of example only, Starstruck was instrumental in helping Clarkson achieve success in terms of numerous hit albums, multiple Grammy wins and nominations, her role on popular television shows like The Voice and her own talk show."
That statement proved to be problematic in multiple ways. First, Clarkson has not had "multiple Grammy wins" since 2007, winning just a single Grammy since she started being managed by the Blackstocks (Best Pop Vocal Album in 2013). Her only other wins happened a year before she entered into that oral agreement with Starstruck (Best Female Pop Vocal and Best Pop Vocal Album in 2006). Second, it suggested that Starstruck was "instrumental" in Clarkson's career and "developed her into a mega superstar." Those braggadocios boasts sound more like the accomplishments of an agent, not a manager.
Less than a month after that filing, Clarkson had filed a Petition to Determine Controversy with the Labor Commissioner's Office claiming that Starstruck and the Blackstocks had violated Section 1700 of the California Labor Code. That is also known as the Talent Agencies Act, a controversial California regulation that requires any individual who is acting as an agent in the state to be licensed. The difference being that a manager handles talent's day-to-day operations while they are on the job while an agent is tasked with booking those jobs.
Agents are also required to provide a surety bond of $50,000, which Clarkson claims Starstruck failed to do while operating as an agent. They also failed to obtain her written approval to act as an agent, failed to work in a manner that served her best interests. What they did do, claims Clarkson, is demand "unconscionable fees" and give "false information," make "false representations," and conceal "material information from Clarkson concerning certain matters relating to Starstruck's ... violation of the Labor Code."
Clarkson and her attorney Edwin McPherson argue in the filing that "based on the wrongful acts and conduct of Starstruck Management and the Blackstocks ... all agreements between the parties, should be declared void and unenforceable, no monies should be paid by Clarkson to Starstruck Management and the Blackstocks, and all monies previously paid by Clarkson to Starstruck Management and the Blackstocks should be disgorged forthwith."
A ruling will not be made until next year, and if the California Labor Commissioner's Office sides with Clarkson, the lawsuit filed against her by Starstruck could be struck down. It is far more likely however that Starstruck will appeal the decision should they use in a case that could very well find its way in the Supreme Court. There have been many advocates on both sides who would like to see a definitive ruling on what some believe to be an unconstitutional regulation.
This is all happening at the same time that Clarkson and Blackstock are in the process of divorcing after seven years of marriage. She has been awarded primary custody of their two young children — River, 6, and Remington, 4 — but he is still demanding over $5 million a year in both child and spousal support. He will have to fight hard for the latter of those two, since he is not entitled to any spousal support per the couple's prenuptial agreement.
OK! has learned that the custody arrangement allows Blackstock to have River and Remington the first, third, and fifth weekend of each month. They can travel to Montana to be with him on the ranch Clarkson bought for that third weekend, but he must be in Los Angeles to see them on the first and fifth weekend.
OK! reached out to Clarkson's lawyer about her filing with the Labor Commissioner's Office but he did not respond to a request for comment. However, his client has said in the past: "Here's the thing, we started out friends. It was cool but it was all pretend."