Flatley May Have Interpol Calling

The promoters of the canceled Prague premier of Michael Flatley’s new Celtic Tiger show have asked the Czech police to call in Interpol in a bid to get their deposit money returned.

Jiri Daron from Pragokoncert Bohemia, which co-promoted the show with JVJ Produkce, is convinced that the Irish dance entrepreneur never intended the date to go ahead.

He’s comparing notes with Swedish promoter/agent Lasse Olsson of Stockholm-based Viva Art, who is also in dispute with Flatley’s management over the last minute cancellation of this month’s 18-date Balkan tour of “Lord Of The Dance.”

“It’s already a big issue in the Czech Republic and, after the police investigation, it will be a big international issue,” Daron told Pollstar, barely two weeks before the September 27 world premiere Celtic Tiger at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Unicorn’s Peter Mersey hasn’t been prepared to comment on either issue since they were placed in the hands of Russells, the company’s London-based lawyers. Earlier, he had told Pollstar that Unicorn will be instituting proceedings against the Czech promoters and Mark Zurevinsky from Canada’s Universal Events, which was partnering Olsson and Wolfgang Klinger from Vienna-based Rock & More to promote the Balkan shows.

Initially, Unicorn and the Czech promoters both agreed the scrapping of the July 12 Prague premiere – less than two hours before the doors were due to open – was due to production difficulties.

Apparently, the trusses above the stage weren’t strong enough to support the speakers, lights and screens that were due to be hung from them.

Although Pragokoncert and JVJ made an announcement to that effect, which was aired and published by virtually all the national media, they’re now saying they have “evidence and expert opinions available that the reasons for canceling the performance on the part of the artist were purposefully concocted.”

Olsson says Flatley’s management told him the Balkan shows, which were due to start in Croatia’s Pula Arena September 3, were canceled because a deposit was late, but he insists it was only 24 hours and Unicorn had been notified of the delay.

“I don’t know the real reason why it was canceled. Although they have ‘Lord Of The Dance’ productions touring all over the world, maybe they don’t have one to come to East and Central Europe right now.

“It appears that Unicorn could not, or did not want to perform this tour, and was looking for a way out,” he told Pollstar.

Having the shows blown out could hardly have come at a worse time for Zurevinsky.

On June 28, the Ontario Court of Justice hit the Thunder Bay-based promoter and his two companies for fines totalling US$43,372, several weeks after pleading guilty to four counts of income tax evasion.

In all, Zurevinsky failed to report more than US$241,400 in income for himself and his companies from 1996 to 1998.

Olsson says refunds are already being made to “Lord Of The Dance” fans in Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Serbia, but the Celtic Tiger situation in Prague could involve the promoters in more legal battles, this time with the ticket agencies.

The main agents were Ticketpro, Ticketstream, Ticketart and Ticketportal and all advanced money to either JVJ or Pragokoncert. Ticketart and Ticketportal, which both advanced to Pragokoncert, have had the money returned and are paying refunds.

Ticketpro and Ticketstream, which both advanced to JVJ, haven’t received the money back and Ticketstream is (so far) declining to give refunds.

Ticketpro, the market leader and likely to have sold around 70 percent of the seats, was the first to refund as managing director Vera Kunratkova told Pollstar, “We made a mistake and so we’re going to have to pay for it.

“Trusting the promoters, we paid out ticket takings to them and I believe they may have then been used as a deposit to the artist. Whatever the outcome of the dispute between the promoters and Michael Flatley, Ticketpro has been unable to keep the contract we made with our customers when they gave us the money for the ticket.

“We have a duty to those customers and we’ll be putting the matter right immediately.”

Although Ticketstream, which has passed the gate money it received to JVJ, is now saying that it’s that promoter’s job to make the refunds, that stance could be problematical under Czech law.

The consumers who bought from the Ticketstream and paid their money to that company are entitled to expect the service for which they paid. Their direct legal relationship is only with the ticketing company. If the service is not provided (and it doesn´t matter why), the consumer would look to get a refund from the company he has paid. They shouldn’t have to care about any other legal relationships the ticketing company has with the promoter.

Ticketportal’s Lucia Boèánková is welcoming the publicity the Celtic Tiger cancellation is attracting.

“It’s important to write more articles, mainly because of all the people who wanted to see this performance, bought tickets and won’t believe in such a project in the future. That’s very bad for all ticketing companies,” she explained.

— John Gammon