A Broadway producer is suing his two former employees for over $5.5 million claiming they went behind his back to poach business with a company that he helped produce shows for, including “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Hello, Dolly!”
Joey Parnes claims that ex-employees Sue Wagner and John Johnson — whom he hired and mentored 19 years ago — exploited a souring relationship that Parnes had with producer Scott Rudin and his company No Ice, Inc., according to a Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit from Friday.
Parnes claims Wagner and Johnson went behind his back in 2019 to stoke frustrations that No Ice and Parnes had with each other –ultimately stealing No Ice’s businesses after forming their own company Wagner Johnson Productions, the court papers allege.
The alleged betrayal began in the spring 2019 when the duo “conspired to destroy” the No Ice relationship so they could “usurp [Joey Parnes Productions’] substantial and profitable business for themselves,” the filing claims.
Wagner and Johnson planned to open up a “rival company,” the court papers say.
“They then conspired to exploit tensions between Parnes and No Ice, thereby ‘driving a wedge’ between Parnes and No Ice, in order to lure No Ice and its roster of productions away from JPP and to WJP,” the suit charges. “Incredibly, they did all this while still working at JPP.”
Parnes worked with No Ice for over seven years helping to open around five shows per season and developing around 15 more including “West Side Story” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” the suit claims.
After Parnes discovered the pair’s plans, Wagner and Johnson agreed to pay him a portion of the “wrongfully diverted revenue … presumably to try to induce JPP not to take immediate legal action against his faithless employees whom he had mentored for years,” the court documents allege.
No Ice eventually also dropped the alleged scheming duo in the summer 2020 because they couldn’t deliver services for No Ice without Parnes’ help, the court papers claim.
And Wagner and Johnson didn’t make good on their agreement to pay Parnes and they hid the amount of money they made from work with No Ice, which the suit alleges is over $1 million.
Parnes and company Joey Parnes Productions are seeking at least $1.5 million in damages, as well as another $4 million in punitive damages from Wagner, Johnson and WJP.
WJP did not immediately return a request for comment.
Wagner did not immediately return a message seeking comment. Johnson could not be reached.