SMG Times Union Center Suit: John Scher Says Gala Was Canceled As He Renegotiated With James Taylor, John Legend

Times Union Center
– Times Union Center
Venue manager SMG has filed suit against longtime New York-area concert promoter John Scher and his Metropolitan Entertainment Consultants, whom it says failed to pay artist deposits for a gala concert reopening the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y., in January but who says he was merely a consultant and tried to salvage the concert before it was canceled.
The Jan. 26 gala grand reopening of the Times Union Center, which Scher opened with a Frank Sinatra concert in 1990, was to feature performances from James Taylor and John Legend, co-promoted by the venue and Metropolitan. The county-owned venue had undergone a $20 million renovation to its atrium and exterior.
SMG says general manager Bob Belber had a verbal agreement in which Scher would pay 50 percent of the artist deposits, which SMG says it later ended up covering itself, and eventually canceled the show when Scher allegedly then failed to come up with a promised 10 percent.
SMG says it is out $356,881 on the show, with the artist fees for Taylor’s appearance at a black-tie pre-performance reception being $600,000 and John Legend’s $500,000, although it says Taylor returned “a substantial portion” of his deposit. The suit outlines a purported agreement that Scher would be on the hook for any loss beyond $50,000 on the show. It also says AEG Presents’ Debra Rathwell chose not to be involved with the show. 

James Taylor
Charles Reagan Hackleman / Charles Reagan Studios
– James Taylor
James Taylor plays the Harvey Can’t Mess With Texas benefit concert at Frank Erwin Center in Austin Sept. 22.
Scher told Pollstar said he was acting as a consultant and working to renegotiate the deals with the artists’ booking agencies after high-priced tickets had not sold as hoped. 
“I encouraged Bob, from literally the day it went on sale, to go back with the people he negotiated with to try to get the deal so everybody could come out OK,” Scher told Pollstar, adding that Metropolitan didn’t book the acts or place the advertising. “In the end, both James and John Legend had agreed to significantly lower their guarantee. However, SMG/Bob Belber canceled the show before we were able to finish those negotiations. I can’t stress this enough, they canceled without even informing me.” Scher added that with renegotiated talent deals, the show likely would have broken even and could have sold 8,000-9,000 tickets.  
He says he and his attorney have not seen the suit but is shocked by the filing and may be forced to counter-sue. 
The plaintiffs seek compensation for their losses as well as punitive damages.  A court date has been set for November.