ALBANY -- The Times Union Center and its parent company, SMG, have filed a lawsuit charging breach of contract by John Scher, the veteran promoter who was to have co-produced the Jan. 26 concert at the arena with James Taylor and John Legend.
The gala event was planned to help celebrate the TU Center's reopening after nearly $20 million in renovations earlier this year. It was canceled less than a week before the show when Scher, of Metropolitan Entertainment Consultants of New Jersey, was unable to pay his share of contracted advances to the two performers.
The suit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York in Albany, is seeking more than $450,000 in economic damages, plus punitive and general damages.
TU Center General Manager Bob Belber, according to the 17-page, six-count complaint, made verbal agreements with Scher to split the cost of the artists' advance, totaling half of their complete fees. Taylor was to be paid $600,000 and Legend $500,000. Scher, however, was unable to come up with half of the advance and could only pay 10 percent of the deposits at a later date. SMG paid the full advances and expected to be reimbursed by Scher, who then informed Belber that he had lost an investor and had no money for the project.
While Taylor reportedly returned about $250,000 of his $300,000 advance, Legend did not, leaving the Albany County-owned TU Center short $356,881 in artist and agent deposits, marketing costs and printing expenses. The center also lost an estimated $100,000 in potential income.
On Jan. 19, the suit alleges, Samuel Feldman, a talent manager whose clients include Taylor, and Belber "attempt to save the concert by urging the artist to take a reduced fee to perform; but not all respond in a timely manner, and as of 9 p.m. on 1/20/18, the concert is officially canceled and a press release issued."
Also see: Times Union Center gala featuring James Taylor, John Legend canceled, Jan. 21, 2018
The suit goes on to say the breach by Scher and Metropolitan Entertainment Consultants was so willful, wanton and wrongful as to warrant an award of punitive damages.
Belber entered into the agreement with Scher and MEC, according to the suit, "based on 20-plus years of close professional friendship and the successful co-promotion of other concerts with Scher, believed in and relied upon Scher's integrity and word that he would and could act as co-promoter without restrictions in moving forward with the concert planning and execution."
A court date has been set for November.