Mark Thibodeau, a long-time publicist for several Broadway productions such as Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, and The Phantom of the Opera, has been in the middle of a court case over a show that didn’t quite make it to Broadway – Rebecca. The show was based on Daphne du Maurier’s gothic novel.
Thibodeau discovered that the show was short on funding, mainly because one of the guys responsible for arranging funding fraudulently reported he had a European investor ready to issue funds to sponsor the play. Unfortunately, no such investor actually existed. When Thibodeau discovered this, he sent several anonymous emails to a possible real investor advising him to get out while the getting was good.
The investor did exactly that, and the show was unable to go further, at least in New York. Thibodeau reportedly tried to advise the director of Rebecca of the problem when he discovered it but was told by the powers that be to forget what he knew and go no further. He didn’t follow those instructions and because of that put himself in hot water legally. All of that happened back in 2012, but the court case is just being determined now.
The real potential investor, Laurence Runsdorf, received several anonymous emails from Thibodeau, the fourth showing the fictitious sender as one Sarah Finkelstein warned that the “walls are about to cave in on Mr. Sprecher … [and there’s a] prospect of fraud, an ongoing money shortage, a bad public perception, anemic tick sales, and a rabid press corps.”
Runsdorf that the “walls are about to cave in on Mr. Sprecher,” with further talk about the “prospect of fraud, an ongoing money shortage, a bad public perception, anemic ticket sales, and a rabid press corps.” No wonder Runsdorf took his money elsewhere. The producers filed suit against the whistleblower for breach of contract and defamation. The court case was decided initially the end of May 2015 with a summary judgment against Thibodeau.
Last month the New York Appellate Justice David Friedman upheld the initial ruling, saying, “It is difficult to imagine a plainer case of a party to a contract utterly defeating the purpose for which the other party had entered into that contract or a more blatant example of an agent’s disloyalty to his principal.”
Thibodeau’s decision may have felt like the morally right thing to do, but in business, it’s important to remember who you represent and who pays for your services. Your first obligation should be to them. If you cannot do that, then quit. At that point, unless there’s a non-disclosure agreement in place, sharing information is a lot less risky.