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Dave Portnoy: HBO Sports Boss Peter Nelson Has Big Role in Call Her Daddy / Barstool Rift

Call Her Daddy, the popular smut talk podcast hosted by Alexandra Cooper and Sofia Franklyn on Barstool Sports, has been dark for over a month. While Page Six wrote about a contract dispute between the two sides in late April, everyone had been relatively quiet about the actual specifics until Barstool founder Dave Portnoy posted a podcast on the CHD feed Sunday night explaining his side of the story. There, he explained in length what Barstool’s contract offers have been plus his belief that Peter Nelson, the HBO Sports EVP who is dating Franklyn, has had a lot to do with the rift. Further, Portnoy says Nelson has been shopping the podcast while the duo remains under contract.

The Page Six story had indicated that Cooper and Franklyn were making $75,000 each in base salary plus podcast download bonuses. Portnoy says that after a year at Barstool those bonuses had them earning about $500,000 each (Cooper a bit more than Franklyn because she was the one who brought the deal to Barstool, and edited the pod). Another issue was intellectual property rights of the Call Her Daddy name.

“There was back and forth at the time of signing them on the intellectual property of Call Her Daddy,” Portnoy says. “They did have a lawyer, and Alex didn’t want to give over the [CHD] name in the beginning. And Barstool, we said We’re not gonna do this deal if you don’t give us ownership of Call Her Daddy because it makes no sense. We don’t want to blow you guys up and then just have you walk out the door, and you own Call Her Daddy, and we’re left holding our dick.”

They had a three-year deal, and Portnoy says he told Cooper — and that he tells every Barstool talent signee — that in the best case scenario the duo would have massive individual brands which they could leverage in negotiations with Barstool and outside suitors. The podcast blew up and both talents apparently got raises in the first year.

After about a year, they began contract negotiations for the second year. Portnoy says he was happy to renegotiate because of how well they were doing, and that they met in person. Then, Portnoy says, he received an email from the two of them that was “clearly written by a lawyer” and that they felt they were not represented properly when they relinquished the IP. Portnoy calls that a “flat-out lie”.

Portnoy says their lawyer demanded:

  • $1 million guaranteed for each of them
  • Classified as freelancers rather than Barstool employees
  • 50 percent of “everything we did” — merch, ad sales, etc.
  • The ability to sell their own merch and ads
  • The CHD IP

Portnoy says he cut off negotiations — “What do we get in return? Nothing. What do we get? Just to kiss their feet and they’ll come back into the office?” — and that they began shopping CHD around and conspiring to break their contract. Portnoy said he would sue them if they did that. “What company would sign somebody if the second you get big you’re just gonna walk out the door?” Portnoy asked. “The analogy I always used with them was like an athlete. If you sign a three-year contract with the Boston Red Sox, and at the All-Star Break of Year 1 you’re doing really well, you can’t just pick up and go to the New York Yankees because they’re going to pay you more.”

After cutting off negotiations, however, Portnoy says he reconsidered given that we are in the middle of a pandemic where ad markets are brutal and Barstool still has to meet payroll. Further — and this went unsaid — Barstool’s parent company Penn National has had its casinos closed for months and it’s unclear when they’ll draw revenue again. Therefore, he wanted to just concede to Cooper and Franklyn so Barstool could generate some money from their pod for a year. He says he offered them a new deal, and the CHD IP, but that Barstool wanted to retain the rights to alcohol (which has not been released yet, but sounds far along in the development pipeline).

Portnoy says he told Cooper that in 17 years of Barstool he’d never dealt with anyone as “unprofessional, disloyal, and greedy” as she and Franklyn. Meanwhile, his negotiations continued to get met with either denials or what he perceived to be wildly unreasonable counters like 90 percent of alcohol, and to get paid retroactively for the time of work they skipped. They repeatedly denied shopping the podcast to other companies, including in a face-to-face meeting with Portnoy about three weeks ago.

Portnoy says he then offered them $500,000 each, bonuses involved, escalating deals on merchandise, that they could have the CHD IP, and that they could leave their contract six months early (so, a year from now rather than in 18 months). Then they went dark again.

Now comes the drama between Cooper and Franklyn, which the New York Post reported about on Sunday. Essentially, Portnoy says that Cooper reached out to him and said that she knew they were being given a Godfather deal but that Franklyn would never accept any deal, no matter what.

Portnoy says that in his discussions with Cooper, he learned that HBO Sports executive Peter Nelson had “come into the mix” and that he brought in the lawyers and was “openly shopping Call Her Daddy … He was acting almost as a manager, and he got a deal with Wondery.” Portnoy says that they knew Barstool was going to sue, and were getting ready to use “every trick in the book” against them, including gender discrimination allegations. (Portnoy also believes that Nelson green-lit the 2019 HBO Real Sports piece that was unflattering to Barstool.)

At this point, it becomes pretty convoluted. Portnoy says that Cooper wanted the deal done with Barstool at this point because it was only a year left and they’d retain the IP. Barstool began working out a deal with Cooper alone for her to get 75 percent of the IP alone and for Barstool to keep 25 percent of it. Once that became close, Portnoy says that Franklyn wanted to return to the previously offered 50/50 partnership with Cooper, but it was too late. He says he made Franklyn a separate offer to do her own podcast without Cooper and see if she was an actionable talent on her own, and that her podcast would also be shared on the CHD feed (which has a crazy amount of subscribers). There’s apparently been no response thus far.

Portnoy then directs his ire back to Nelson, who he says that Cooper says “hates” Barstool. “He was trying to manipulate the situation,” Portnoy says. “To me, Sofia mixed business and pleasure.” Portnoy says all of the talk of Cooper and Franklyn getting ready to “concoct” a story to get out of Barstool and go to Wondery began “percolating” when Nelson got into the picture. Portnoy thinks that Franklyn was hesitant to pull out of the Wondery deal for the Godfather offer from Barstool that Cooper wanted to take because Nelson “would’ve looked like an asshole” if that happened.

“This is the truth as I understand it,” Portnoy says, who trusts Cooper over Franklyn. “It’s a long and rambling story, and they’re both gonna point the finger at each other.”

We shall see what happens next.

Written by Ryan Glasspiegel

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