UH Reveals Matthew McConaughey Speaking Fee

Well, we now know how much the University of Houston will pay Matthew McConaughey to deliver the university's upcoming commencement address in May. And we also know now that UH is paying $20,250 to a mysterious, self-proclaimed booking agent based in Carlsbad, California, with no apparent connection to McConaughey whatsoever.

So we're both pleased and puzzled.

UH spokesman Richard Bonnin tells us in an email that McConaughey will donate his $135,000 fee to his JK Livin Foundation, which helps bring after-school health and wellness programs to inner-city high schools.

"It was established from the outset that if Matthew McConaughey was available to speak at the event, all fees would be donated to the jk livin Foundation," Bonnin explained in an email. "McConaughey started the foundation to empower high school students by providing them with the tools to lead active lives and make healthy choices for a better future."

That all makes sense. What doesn't make sense is how a guy named Glenn Richardson, who has a business called Celebrity Talent International, got involved in the first place.

When a reporter from the Houston Chronicle requested information about McConaughey's speaking fee earlier this year, UH stated that an unusual secrecy clause in its contract with CTI required that it appeal the request to the Texas Attorney General's Office ("It should be noted that the University does not believe the information is confidential, but must allow the third party the chance to make their argument against disclosure," the university said at the time).

Then last week Richardson wrote a peculiar letter to the AG's office, arguing that McConaughey's fee should remain confidential. But Richardson doesn't really seem to have anything to do with the actor.

Bonnin explained that UH could at last reveal McConaughey's fee because the school had "concluded its business" with Richardson, meaning that UH was "no longer bound by its confidentiality agreement with the agency." Bonnin's email stated that Celebrity Talent International "will receive $20,250 (15 percent) as commission for the work it performed on behalf of the University," without actually stating the nature of this work.

Until recently, McConaughey's photo -- and suggested speaking fees -- was on CTI's "talent library," suggesting that the agency had something to do with the actor. But McConaughey's photo was removed last week.

"Neither CTI nor Richardson represent McConaughey in any capacity, nor does Richardson have any right to speak on McConaughey's behalf," Bonnin stated in his email. "The University engaged the services of CTI to help identify and connect with an appropriate Commencement speaker and to assist with the logistics of finalizing a contract."

Why Richardson wrote the AG remains unclear -- Richardson did not respond to multiple requests for comment. McConaughey's talent agency, CAA, was also tight-lipped, but McConaughey's publicist, Nicole Perez, told us in an email Tuesday that the actor "has never met, heard of, spoken to, or worked with anyone named" Glenn Richardson.

Richardson appears to have a habit of posting big names on his site, creating the illusion of some sort of super booking agent. But not everyone wants to be on there. U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein's press secretary, Dean Lieberman, told us Tuesday, "There's no connection with our office, and we're actively working to get her name removed."

How Richardson still managed to make $20,250 off this deal is a bit puzzling, since there's no indication he has any more access to celebrities than anyone else with a phone.

Still, we think it's classy for McConaughey to donate his fees.

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Contributor Craig Malisow covers crooks, quacks, animal abusers, elected officials, and other assorted people for the Houston Press.
Contact: Craig Malisow