LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) It’s all over but for the shouting for the block booking kerfuffle between Live Nation and AEG with Ozzy Osbourne officially dropping his lawsuit against the latter on Friday.
The two promotional giants had been in a nasty back-and-forth, accusing each other of forcing artists to play unwanted venues when asking for others. Azoff MSG Entertainment, which is closely associated with Live Nation and is also closely associated with The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., and, obviously, Madison Square Garden in New York, had been accused of a block booking tactic by AEG. The competitor claimed that artists could not play one (MSG) without playing the other (The Forum) when touring.
Then, however, when Ozzy Osbourne and wife/manager Sharon Osbourne filed a lawsuit against AEG for the same tactic, it included a documented agreement that an artist could not play AEG’s The O2 arena in London without playing the company’s Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The situation was closed when AEG chief Jay Marciano said the company would drop the demand and Irving Azoff of Azoff MSG Entertainment in turn issued a statement that called a truce, but the Osbournes dropping their case is the final punctuation point.
“Sharon and Ozzy are pleased, there is nothing left to litigate,” Osbourne attorney Dan Wall told Billboard after filing a stipulation to dismiss the case on Friday.
U.S. District Court Judge Dale Fischer had recently made a ruling in the Osbourne’s favor, rejecting AEG’s attempt to dismiss the case and saying that Ozzy’s concern had merit. AEG dropped the block booking requirement six weeks later, telling Billboard, “promoters for artists that want to play the O2 will no longer be required to commit to playing Staples Center,” adding, “Going forward, we will only require this commitment if we believed artists were being pressured to play the Forum to gain access to the Garden.”
AEG released the following statement on Friday:
On Friday, Ozzy Osbourne dismissed the class action lawsuit he filed against AEG. This dismissal with prejudice is a victory for AEG. We were fully prepared to see the case through to vindicate our policy, but now that Osbourne has decided to dismiss with prejudice, the case is over.
Our policy was an appropriate, lawful and effective competitive response to Irving Azoff’s pressure tactics seeking to force artists into the Forum. If those tactics resurface, we will redeploy our policy as needed.
The Osbourne suit was instigated by Azoff and paid for by MSG and Live Nation. It was hatched on the back of an artist who we believe had no idea what he was biting off. The suit was a transparent public relations ploy that failed to pressure AEG into backing down from a booking policy that was an effective competitive response to the MSG-Forum tie.
It is no surprise that once AEG refused to back down, Azoff, MSG and Live Nation became eager to drop the case as soon as possible. They dismissed the case with prejudice after realizing AEG would aggressively defend it, costing them tens of millions of dollars and posing a source of embarrassment once their questionable tactics were exposed in the course of discovery and trial.