Sunday 17 December 2017

Prince likes to 'muddy the waters'

Mercurial, special star changes often, Croke Park concert row hearing told

Tim Healy and Jason O'Brien

THE William Morris agency works with some of the biggest celebrities and divas in the world, but one of its executives told the Commercial Court yesterday that there were few, if any, who muddied the water like Prince.

Marc Geiger described the diminutive singer as "mercurial" and a "very special" individual, but also someone who "changes often" and who told his own agency to only communicate with him through his personal assistant.

Mr Geiger, of the agency's contemporary music division, was giving evidence on the third day of an action by promoters MCD against Prince Rogers Nelson, and his agents over the cancellation of a Croke Park concert in June 2008.

He said Prince was the "least clear person" he had dealt with in his 20-year career in terms of communicating what he wanted. The court had previously heard that the megastar liked to ask questions rather than give definitive answers or confirmations.

And Mr Geiger said it was only two weeks before the cancelled concert that Prince told the agency he only expected to do the Dublin concert if it was part of a series in Europe, and not just a one-off gig. At that stage, some 55,000 tickets had been sold.

Yet Geiger said Prince told him: "You know I don't work like that."

The agency believed Prince had confirmed in late February that he would play Dublin, but now -- on a June 3 meeting at the singer's Beverly Hills house -- the agency was "advised" he would not do so.

And Prince accused them of not getting him any offers of other European shows. Mr Geiger said he told the artist this was "patently untrue".

He said they had come to him with an offer of seven European performances worth $22m, and that Dublin had been confirmed. He said they walked him through options on the effect of a cancellation. The meeting ended in what was described as a "terse fashion".

Prince's assistant, Ruth Arzate, with whom the agency dealt "the whole time", did not speak during the meeting in Beverly Hills but Mr Geiger "believed" she hugged him and his colleague as they left.

The court was told that the previous year, a proposal was put forward for Prince to play a European tour and that the artist had requested the agency to "make this happen".

Mr Geiger denied any "specific perimeters" were laid down over "one-off gigs or not".

The agency was working to secure the most money possible, he said, and Prince was expected to net between $1.5m and $2.5m to play Dublin.

Mr Geiger said Prince "often" played one-off performances. The agent was asked to go through the 'deal points' of the proposed contract with Prince. It was put to him in court that neither Prince nor his assistant had ever received that document.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly also heard that no "specific" reason was given to the agency as to why Prince wished to cancel, but during the June 3 meeting a "suggestion was put down" that there might be health reasons behind the cancellation, Mr Geiger said.

There were "lots of rumours going around" and it was "suspected something was going on", Mr Geiger said.

MCD is claiming €1.7m in compensation after the concert scheduled for Croke Park, in June 2008, was cancelled 10 days beforehand.

Prince claims William Morris had no authority to bind him to the gig -- but they have rejected this claim.

The case continues.

Irish Independent

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