Talent Agency Wants McConaughey Speaking Fee Kept Secret
HOUSTON — A celebrity booking agency has told the Texas attorney general’s office it is not all right to make public how much the University of Houston is paying actor Matthew McConaughey to speak at the school’s May 15 commencement ceremony.
The university has declined to release the information because its contract with California-based Celebrity Talent International includes a confidentiality clause that gives the agency a chance to object. The school has asked the attorney general’s office to issue an opinion on whether such information can be kept private.
Celebrity Talent International President Glenn Richardson sent a March 9 letter to the attorney general’s office, saying payment and other details in McConaughey’s contract are a trade secret, the Houston Chronicle reports.
Richardson wrote that “a reporter or someone else” could use the information to create “unfair negatives online and take things out of context.”
“We all have seen this with reporters and individuals on a daily basis in the news and is very sensitive now with celebrities who are unfairly targeted often,” he said.
Richardson’s letter also argued that releasing McConaughey’s contract details could hurt the company’s business and give an unfair edge to its competitors. “I understand that there needs to be transparency with some things, but it seems that after reading the statutes I was referred to, that our company’s communications, emails and agreement details should be deferred due to things related to unfair competition with my competitors and also for Mr. McConaughy’s security,” said Richardson, who misspelled McConaughey's name throughout his letter.
While Richardson has asked that the amount of McConaughey’s speaking fee not be released, his agency’s website states that the minimum fee to book McConaughey in the U.S. ranges from $150,000 to $499,000.
A university spokeswoman did not immediately have answers to questions in an email seeking comment Thursday. The school said in a statement last month that it does not believe the contract information is confidential.
Thomas Gregor, a Houston attorney who serves on the board of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, has said he could “think of no circumstance under which a commencement fee paid by a public university could be properly withheld.”