Prince 'changes often', court told
Pop superstar Prince was “one of the least clear people” he ever dealt with, a senior executive with one of the world's largest entertainment management companies told the Commercial Court today.
Marc Geiger, who oversees the contemporary music division of William Morris Entertainment Endeavour, which claims it acted as agents for the artist in relation to a summer 2008 gig at Dublin’s Croke Park, said Prince was a “very special” individual who “changes often”.
He was giving evidence on the third day of the action before Mr Justice Peter Kelly by concert promoters MCD for €1.7 million compensation against the Oscar winning singer and WMEE, Beverly Hills, California, over cancellation of the Croke Park gig scheduled for June 16th 2008.
Prince, whose real name is Prince Rogers Nelson, claims WMEE had no authority to bind him to the gig, but they have rejected this claim. WMEE claims it at all times acted as agents for Prince under an agreement of August 2005 with express authority to negotiate on his behalf for the purpose of booking gigs.
It claims the decision to cancel the Dublin event was outside of its control and has denied negligence, breach of duty and misrepresentation.
Mr Geiger told Grainne Clohessy SC, for WMEE, he and his colleague Keith Sarkisian attended a meeting with Prince on June 3rd, 2008, less than two weeks before the Dublin performance was due.
He was “advised” at this point the artist would not be performing at Croke Park, he said. WMEE was of the belief Prince had confirmed his intention to play Dublin in late February.
Prince told him: “You know I don’t work like this” and said he would not be performing a “one off” gig which was not part of any European tour. Mr Geiger said he told the artist it was “patently untrue” to suggest the gig could only have occurred as part of a European tour.
Prince became “very agitated” and said it was the agency’s “problem” as they had got him “into this mess”, Mr Geiger said. The meeting ended in a “terse fashion” .
Prince’s assistant, with whom the agency dealt “the whole time”, did not speak during the meeting but Mr Geiger said he believed she hugged him and his colleague as they left. A proposal was put forward for Prince to play a European tour the previous year and the artist had requested the agency “make this happen”, Mr Geiger added.
Cross-examined by Paul Screenan SC, for Prince, Mr Geiger said “no specific parameters” were laid down in respect of the European proposal, whether “one off gigs or not”. The agency was working to secure as much money as possible and Prince was expected to net between $1.5m and $2.5m dollars to play Dublin, he said.
Asked whether Prince indicated he was prepared to perform a one off gig in late February 2008 when the Dublin concert was confirmed with MCD, Mr Geiger said they were still “presenting” Prince with offers at that point. Some $22 million was being put forward for seven shows, he said.
Mr Geiger agreed no attempt was made to see what would happen if Prince rejected the offers after the Dublin performance was booked. Prince played one off performances “often”, he said.
No “specific” reason was given to the agency why Prince wished to cancel the Dublin performance but, during their June 3rd meeting, a “suggestion was put down” there might be health reasons behind the cancellation, he said. There were “lots of rumours going around” and it was “suspected something was going on”.
Mr Geiger said he “didn’t know” whether a “deal points agreement”, which records the key terms of an agreement, had been shown to Prince “personally” in relation to the Dublin gig. Email correspondence between the artist’s assistant and the agency indicated “a further boiled down summary of the basic points” had been sent, he said.
The case continues tomorrow.