Terrence Howard Claims CAA ‘Threatened’ Him With a $666 Check

Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images
Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

Terrence Howard is opening up about his claims of inadequate pay against CAA and his ongoing lawsuit against the Hollywood agency.

In a recent interview on the podcast Straight Talk with Daphne Phaneē, the Oscar-nominated actor said he was low-balled by CAA across all six seasons of his Fox drama Empire, while his “white counterparts” from the network were paid more than him. Howard announced in December that he was suing the agency over his salary.

“[CAA] represented me, they also represented some of the people from Big Bang Theory,” he said on Straight Talk. “[CAA] also did the deal with Fox, my show was with Fox, the people on Big Bang Theory was with Fox.”

“We had 28 million viewers, [Big Bang] had 11 million viewers. [The Big Bang cast] was getting $2 million, damn near $3 million an episode. Those white kids, they had no name recognition, no Oscar nominations, none of that,” he added.

A primary issue of Howard’s lawsuit is packaging, which is when studios pay agencies directly for attaching other clients to a project. Howard’s suit alleges that his agents took advantage of him in the packaging process by providing him with inaccurate pay comparisons whenever he asked what he should be paid for headlining the Fox series—thereby benefiting CAA and its other clients, such as the cast of The Big Bang Theory.

“We have 28 million viewers and these jokers are paying me $325,000 an episode,” he said on Straight Talk. “Every year I’m asking my agents what’s going on, what’s going on. I didn’t know that [with] the packaging deal, my agents were incentivized to keep my pay low. They owe me over $120 million based on what would’ve been paid to white counterparts.”

Howard also alleges in the interview that he received a check that he interpreted to be a threat. “When I asked them about it, about my money, they sent me a check for $666 exactly, not saying where it’s from. So I was like, oh, y’all tryna threaten me. This is a threat right here and y’all think I’m scared? You think I’m gonna be quiet about this? Because I wonder what y’all are doing to every other Black artist.”

CAA had no comment when reached by The Daily Beast on Monday.

Elsewhere in the conversation, Howard spoke about his continued desire to retire from acting. He first announced in 2019 that he wanted to quit the business, and then reiterated that sentiment in 2022. He has, however, returned to the screen a handful of times in the past few years, including in this year’s Shirley, alongside Regina King.

“They’re like, ‘Oh, don’t you want to work in the business?’ And I’m like, no, I want my money so I don’t have to work,” he said when asked about any potential career repercussions from his lawsuit. “That’s the whole point of working. I wanted to retire so I can do what I gotta do.”

The actor admitted that his reasons for continuing to act were purely “financial,” which led him to address another of his ongoing legal battles: his tax evasion case. Earlier this year, Howard was ordered to pay nearly $1 million in back taxes and fees for evading his income taxes in the 2010s.

Howard says he spent around $4 million defending himself in that case: “It’s just paying money to lawyers,” he said. “Their whole thing is to bleed you out.”

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