Concert promoters in court over Russell Peters' 2012 show
Popular stand-up comedian Russell Peters is infamously unafraid of thrusting himself into the spotlight as a subject of controversy.
Days before his return to Singapore on Monday as part of his Almost Famous World Tour, controversy - albeit not of his own doing - follows him.
Peters' 2012 show promoter, LAMC Productions, is locked in a court battle with rival Midas Promotions over his show here that year.
Midas is seeking a 50 per cent share of the profits from LAMC for the two-night, sold-out shows in May 2012 held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
According to affidavits by LAMC co-owners Lauretta Alabons and Ross Knudson, their profits from the first night's show came up to $122,137.74. Their takings from the second night was not stated in court documents.
Yesterday, Ms Alabons and Mr Knudson, who are married, took the witness stand to refute Midas' claims. The trial continues today with Mr Knudson still on the stand.
Here's what both sides are arguing:
LAMC breached contract
LEGAL TUSSLE: Russell Peters’ 2012 show here is the focus of a court case between Midas Promotions’ director Michael Hosking (second from top) and LAMC Productions’ co-owners Lauretta Alabons and Ross Knudson. PHOTOS: SHINTARO TAY
Midas Promotions' director Michael Hosking claimed LAMC Productions agreed to a joint venture for Russell Peters' 2012 show here mainly to avoid a bidding war.
A joint venture agreement, he added in his affidavit, is "typically decided in an informal setting without any form of written contract".
Mr Hosking, 56, claimed that he called Mr Ross Knudsonon March 15 in 2012, asking to co-promote the show. The joint venture basis, he alleged, would see each party submitting separate bids for a flat fee deal - an agreed fixed sum between the promoter and the artist.
Mr Hosking claimed they agreed to offer Peters' agent, Ms Marlene Tsuchii, a flat fee of US$200,000 (S$279,260).
He alleged that both parties agreed to withdraw their previous bids and the successful party this time will do a joint venture on a 50-50 revenue split basis with the other.
However, Mr Hosking alleged that LAMC submitted a flat deal offer of US$300,000 instead for two shows - in Singapore and Malaysia - while he stood by his end of the agreement.
He also claimed that LAMC failed to withdraw a prior percentage deal and excluded Midas when signing a contract to promote the show, resulting in a breach of contract.
According to him, Mr Knudson, 52, only informed him via e-mail on March 28 that year that he was not proceeding with the joint venture. In Mr Hosking's view, the "substantial profits at (Midas Promotions') expense" are grounds for compensation.
No deal struck between parties
In an e-mail dated March 20, 2012, Russell Peters' agent, Ms Marlene Tsuchii, wrote to LAMC Productions to confirm that they would promote the first show with a deal of US$200,000.
This entailed an 80-20 per cent percentage deal in favour of the artist.
On or around April 11, a second show date was added - May 6.
In Mr Ross Knudson's affidavit, the LAMC Productions co-owner alleged he agreed with Mr Hosking that it "would have been potentially financially beneficial" for both parties to do a joint venture only if a flat bid deal was accepted.
This joint venture deal also had to include each party bearing half of the expenses and net profits.
But he claimed that they never mentioned doing a joint venture on a percentage basis, in which an agreement is reached between the artist and promoter such that there is a percentage split of the net profits between the two.
In her affidavit, Mr Knudson's wife and fellow LAMC co-owner Lauretta Alabons, 45, said she tried to negotiate for a flat deal for US$300,000 for two shows (one each in Singapore and Malaysia), with an additional bonus of US$12,000 if Malaysia sold out.
This offer, made via e-mail on March 15, was rejected by Ms Tsuchii.
Ms Alabons then offered Ms Tsuchii another deal on March 16 for a flat deal of US$200,000 with additional bonuses if certain quantities of tickets were sold.
Again, it was rejected.
In an e-mail dated March 28, Mr Knudson informed Mr Hosking that he had "tried everything possible to keep this a flat deal but it's gotten extremely heated with Marlene".
Ms Alabons claimed Mr Hosking's e-mail replies then "became hostile and threatening".
She maintained that there was no agreement between Midas Promotions and LAMC to work on a percentage deal basis as "it would not have made financial sense".
Mr Knudson said on the stand: "We know now that he (Hosking) destroyed his relationship with the agent.
"I think he was trying to use me because he knew he was out of this deal."
He added: "This is a case of personal ego gone off the rails."
He earned $500k in just one night here
Popular Canadian comedian Russell Peters earned close to $500,000 from just one night at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in May 2012.
During that trip here, the 45-year-old performed over two nights, the first of which saw him pocket $488,550.97, according to court papers.
Peters made his debut solo show here in 2006, two years after he gained worldwide fame on YouTube.
In April last year, he served up laughs to three nights of sold-out crowds at the Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre.
He will be perform at Suntec again on Monday for just one night.
Peters has sold out notable venues such as New York City's Madison Square Gardenand London's The O2 Arena.
Last year, Forbes ranked him joint fourth in the list of highest-paid comedians, with a US$19 million (S$26.4 million) pay cheque.