Fixer Upper stars Chip Gaines and Joanna Gaines are at the center of a $1 million lawsuit filed by their former literary agency, David Vigliano's Vigliano Associates. The firm is claiming the HGTV power couple attempted to back out of paying him a cut of their deal struck with HarperCollins in 2017. The lawsuit is alleging that the Magnolia founders "concocted a scheme" to get out of making payments.
The plaintiff in the case is Vigliano Associates, which claims to have represented Joanna and Chip when they signed a $12.5 million, five-book deal with HarperCollins in 2017. According to the legal documents obtained by TMZ, Vigliano claims the Gaines were set to pay them a 7.5% cut from any payments they received from the publisher. This plan went fine for the first two books, but after that, they allegedly "concocted a scheme" to get out of paying Vigliano their cut of the next three books.
The Gaines allegedly tried to cut one book from the deal first. Then, they tried to make Chip the author of one of the two remaining books, according to the lawsuit. Vigliano claims the original deal only covered Joanna-written books, so the move would have brought the deal from five books to just three. This would mean smaller cuts for the agency.
The lawsuit claims Joanna then signed a new deal with a different agent before her latest book, The Stories We Tell: Every Piece of Your Story Matters, was published last month. Vigliano claims the money Joanna earns from this book should be going to them instead. Vigliano also accused Chip and Joanna of falsely branding themselves as "moral Christians who purportedly operate in an ethical manner." The agency is seeking at least $1 million in damages.
The lawsuit names the Gaines' companies C&J Gaines Limited Co. and Magnolia Brands LLC, and their management company, United Talent Agency, as defendants, reports the Wall Street Journal. Representatives for the Gaines, their businesses, and UTA did not comment.
Vigliano's lawyer, Larry Hutcher told the Journal that the contract dispute has its roots in the Gaines' decision to leave their previous management company, Westport Entertainment Associates LLC. Westport was still working with Joanna when the publishing deal was signed in 2017, with Vigliano negotiating. Hutcher said. He added that Vigliano was a "third-party beneficiary" in the deal.
"The Gaines entered into a contract amendment that we didn't agree to that reduced the books from five to four and then eliminated the option [for a sixth book]," Hutcher said. "Our client did the work... He's entitled to be paid for that."
Joanna and Chip switched to UTA in 2019 as they prepared to launch their own Magnolia Network, which took over DIY Network. Their Magnolia Network shows were also released to Discovery+ first and have since been showing up on HBO Max following the Warner Bros. Discovery merger. The couple rose to fame as the hosts of Fixer Upper, which ran from 2013 to 2018. Their Magnolia business empire also includes furniture, books, real estate, magazines, and more.