SJ Promoter Responds To Summerside Suit

A San Jose, Calif., promoter has dismissed allegations raised in a lawsuit by the city of Summerside, Prince Edward Island, over a Michael Jackson tribute concert that never materialized.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, brings forth a number of charges including fraud and civil conspiracy to commit fraud, negligent misrepresentation and recission.

According to the lawsuit, Katrina Berg Sussmeier of StarLink Productions, along with one-time Jackson manager Frank Dileo and his associated business entities, “fraudulently or negligently induced” the city of Summerside to pay $1.3 million for a purported “Official Michael Jackson Celebration/Tribute Show.”

Summerside alleges that in July 2009, after working with Sussmeier to bring a successful John Fogerty concert to the area, the promoter presented the city with a once-in-a-lifetime offer: a concert to honor the late Michael Jackson that would feature performances by Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, Usher, Ne-Yo and Leona Lewis.

The show was to be produced by Sussmeier, in coordination with Dileo’s DLM Management Group, Dileo Entertainment & Touring and Dileo associates Mark Lamicka and Quincy Krashna, the suit says.

During negotiations for the show, a series of e-mails regarding two $650,000 deposits were sent between Sussmeier and city officials.

When pushed by officials for information about the show, Sussmeier replied that the city’s hesitation to sign a non-disclosure agreement would hurt its chances in securing the concert, the suit says.

“Fax me the signed NDA by 1 p.m. my time (5 yours),” Sussmeier allegedly wrote. “These guys don’t kid around, this isn’t a game. I’m trying to bring you a huge show and bring you in to the big leagues, but I won’t bring you another show if you can’t conduct business at this level. I *AM* AEG/Live Nation for all Dileo’s acts. We’re handling these large tours now.”

With an NDA and preliminary binder signed and forwarded to StarLink in addition to a $650,000 deposit, negotiations continued for the concert, which was scheduled to take place in July 2010.

In March 2010, Sussmeier sent another e-mail to Summerside indicating that while several acts were confirmed, a second payment of $650,000 was necessary to secure Beyoncé.

The money was wired but the city claims that in the time since, Sussmeier has provided no confirmation of artists, “refused to refund the $1.3 million paid to StarLink and has provided no credible explanation as to the total failure of the show.”

Sussmeier, however, tells a completely different story. She alleges that discussions with Summerside officials regarding a concert continued through last month, even after the city attempted to back out of the agreement and sign with other promoters.
“They signed a deal with me, and I was fulfilling that,” she told Pollstar. “The tour that we were going to do – the Michael Jackson Tribute tour– was rescheduled. They got pretty upset at that.”

So “they signed a deal with AEG/Live Nation,” she continued, and “then they decided they wanted all their money back from me.”
Sussmeier claims that because she and her associates had already put down deposits on several artists, attempts were made to reschedule and do a smaller concert in Summerside. But the city was never receptive to the idea.

“I’ve just been trying to manage this the whole time, and they’ve just been trying to get away from the deal the whole time,” she said. “And, one of their options is, if they could just get on a conference call, we could give them back a certain amount of their money – most of their money. … But they have to drop the suit and admit there’s no fraud that happened.”

Complicating the situation is the fact that in August 2009, a letter was leaked to TMZ detailing an arrangement between StarLink, DLM Management Group and Dileo Entertainment to find and secure potential dates for “the only legitimate official Michael Jackson tribute shows.”

The signed letter noted that all inquiries regarding DLM Management / Dileo Entertainment as the “exclusive manager/agent” for the tribute shows should be directed to Dileo, Lamicka or Krashna.

But when contacted by TMZ at the time, Dileo reportedly told the website he knew nothing about the letter.

“That is not my signature on that document, that is not my company,” he said. “I don’t know who these people are, I don’t know what else to tell you.”

Sussmeier countered that Dileo had to deny involvement with the tribute concert because of the non-disclosure agreement in place.

“We all had to because we were under an NDA,” she said. “We had to say we didn’t know anything about it. We were the ones holding up our side of the contract.”

An attorney for Summerside declined to comment on Sussmeier’s allegations.

A case management hearing is scheduled for April 26.