Romeo’s Rodeo Woes

Romeo Entertainment Group has filed suit in a federal court against an animal rights group, claiming it interfered in Romeo’s dealings with artists scheduled to play concerts at an annual outdoor rodeo in Wyoming.

Matchbox Twenty recently pulled a scheduled July 18th performance at Cheyenne Frontier Days, and said in a statement "it would be impossible for us to put ourselves in the position of making money from what we believe to be the mistreatment of animals."

It turns out that the band had been contacted by Showing Animals Respect And Kindness (SHARK), as the activist group had released a statement of its own regarding the cancellation.

"When SHARK found out that Matchbox Twenty was scheduled to perform at the CFD, kicking off their concert entertainment lineup, we immediately sent them a package of information and documentation including CFD rodeo footage and newspaper articles exposing the abuse," the group said.

"Similar packages had been sent to Carrie Underwood in 2006 and Def Leppard and Bon Jovi in 2007. Carrie Underwood canceled her appearance at CFD in 2006, and coffee giant Starbucks withdrew its rodeo sponsorship, but neither Def Leppard nor Bon Jovi responded to our appeals. Fortunately, Matchbox Twenty was willing to walk its talk."

Romeo Entertainment, which has booked performers at Cheyenne Frontier Days for the last 20 years, claims SHARK and the group’s president, Steve Hindi, tortiously interfered in Romeo’s contracts with Carrie Underwood and Matchbox Twenty, using "false and misleading information and threats of negative publicity to intimidate and induce" the artists to breach their agreements.

The suit also alleges that Hindi and SHARK "unabashedly acknowledge that their strategy is to watch the announcements of the Cheyenne Frontier Days night show lineup to look for entertainers defendants believe they can convince to breach their contractual obligation to perform at the Cheyenne Frontier Days night shows."

Romeo Entertainment seeks an injunction to keep SHARK from contacting entertainers who agree to perform at CFD now or in the future as well as damages, costs and expenses.

But on top of the suit against SHARK, Romeo principal R.J. Romeo told Pollstar the group has also considered pursuing further action against Matchbox Twenty.

Following news of the cancellation, the group contacted band representatives in attempts to clarify that there would not be a rodeo taking place the same day as the concert, and that the show was not being promoted by Cheyenne Frontier Days, but by Romeo Entertainment.

The band stuck with its decision.

"We feel that what they did, they need to be accountable for," Romeo said. "We had a deal; we were on sale. We had money in the bank, tickets sold and we had permission to advertise."