LAWSUITS/LEGAL UPDATES (Click on More to view all articles): Verso Entertainment Sues Detroit Venue

Verso Entertainment LLC, a Detroit based promotion company, has filed suit against 2115 Woodward Incorporated, owners of the State Theatre, in Wayne County Circuit Court of Detroit today. Verso claims that actions by the Theatre caused over $25,000 in damages.

On November 27, Verso Entertainment hosted Scratch and Burn, The Pre-Thanksgiving Bash, a one-time-only, Thanksgiving Eve dance event featuring world renown DJ Grandmaster Flash and MC'd by Teck from MTV's Real World: Hawaii. Scratch and Burn was sponsored by Zodiac Vodka, Johnnie Walker, Henessey, MTV, Taste Catering, Wireless Toyz, Universal Valet, Rox Energy Drink and Collision Connections. An aggressive advertising campaign began in mid-October with flyers, newspaper insertions, and other promotions. The event was expected to draw over 4,000 paid attendees, but due to action by State Theatre Officials, the box office only received about 850 paid patrons.

"We've done several events in the past at places like the Roostertail, Royal Oak

Music Theatre, Tonic, XS, pretty much everywhere, and this was our first time using the State Theatre," said Verso entertainment president, Marc Beginin. "We just didn't expect to get hustled."

The hustle, according to Beginin, started when Verso was not informed of City of Detroit road closures in preparation for the next day's Thanksgiving Parade. Closing Woodward Ave. prevented event patrons from reaching the venue between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.

"We had a special pre-party promotion scheduled from 8-10 and only 78 people

managed to get in the door. The management (of the theatre) knew they were closing Woodward, but they didn't tell us," said Beginin. "In addition, the State Theatre's contracted security prevented hundreds of customers with tickets from getting to the front door, and patrons without tickets from getting to the box office. According to witnesses, security extorted tips from the long line of people waiting outside the club between 10 p.m. and midnight. Also, for a price, un-ticketed patrons were allowed to enter from another side entrance."

David Rosenberg, of Southfield, the attorney representing Verso Entertainment, said,
"The State Theatre acted irresponsibly. At no time were they concerned about the integrity of the event or the people attending. They attempted to cut every corner and as a result severely damaged the credibility and image of the downtown theater district."

Initially, Verso Entertainment tried to handle the matter outside of court but a meeting with State Theatre's Jim Forbes was unsuccessful. Verso's CEO Rob Kato said, "We tried to reach a compromise, but they (State Theatre officials) just don't care."

Verso Entertainment is suing for over $25,000 in damages for breach of contract and misrepresentation. Kato was very disappointed with the actions of the State Theatre, "We just expected them to act in a professional manner, and they didn't do that."

Rapper 'Suge' Knight Speaks Out on Arrest

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight charged his arrest for alleged parole violations was a misguided effort by police to salvage their investigation of a string of homicides.

Knight, 37, was taken into custody Monday after meeting with his parole officer. The violations involve his alleged association with reputed gang members and could bring him another year in prison, authorities said. He remains in jail without bail.

Knight told the Los Angeles Times during a jailhouse interview Thursday he does not associate with gang members outside of his music label business – Tha Row Records.

"I ain't no gangster. I'm too damn old. I'm a grown man trying to run a business," Knight said.

Knight claims that when he went to meet his parole officer a gang investigator was there waiting and threatened a lengthy jail sentence if Knight didn't talk about a series of gang related-shootings.

"I told him, 'You better handcuff me right now. Because I don't know a thing about it,"' Knight said.

Sheriff's investigators raided Knight's Malibu home and the Beverly Hills office of his Tha Row records Nov. 14 in connection with a pair of unsolved homicides. They have said Knight is not a suspect in the killings.

Three men were arrested during the raids on suspicion of conspiring to kill a man in June in retaliation for the April slaying of a former production manager at Knight's record label, formerly known as Death Row Records. However, the three men were later released without being charged.

During the raid, law enforcement found photos in which Knight and gang members were making gang signs with their hands, sources told the Times. Knight said the picture was from a music video rehearsal for one of Knight's acts, Crooked I.

"They think anything with fingers up in the air is a gang sign," Knight said.

Knight believes his arrest is a last-ditch effort to salvage an investigation that has lacked the number of arrests authorities were seeking. He also said it is unfair for him to abandon his ties to the inner-city where rap music flourishes.

"I told parole that if I had to stop dealing with people from the 'hood, I might as well shut down my business," Knight said. "I can't just turn my back on the people I came up with. Rap comes from the same place that I did – the ghetto."

Knight was released on parole in August 2001 after serving five years in prison for violating probation on assault charges by getting into a fight in a Las Vegas hotel.

The 1996 altercation occurred hours before rapper Tupac Shakur was killed in a drive-by shooting while riding in Knight's car.

Knight had been on probation since 1995, when he entered no-contest pleas to two counts of assault stemming from a 1992 attack on two rappers at a Hollywood recording studio.

Ross Says She Was Lost During DUI Arrest & Diana Ross Arrested for DUI in Arizona

Singer Diana Ross said she was trying to rent a video and got lost when she was stopped for allegedly driving under the influence, according a police report.

Tucson police Officer Scott Sullivan stopped Ross early Monday morning after someone reported that a vehicle was driving south in the northbound lanes of a street in northeastern Tucson.

Sullivan's report, released Tuesday, indicated that he stopped Ross, 58, at a Blockbuster video store, where she had pulled into a handicapped space. She twice denied she had been drinking, and said she had been lost and was "just trying to get here to rent a video."

The report also said Ross consented to a field sobriety test but fell down and laughed while trying to stand on one leg and count to 10. In another test, it said, she skipped a couple of letters and doubled others when asked to write the alphabet.

Ross was cited on three misdemeanor counts related to driving under the influence and has a Jan. 13 court date. Police said breath tests showed Ross had a blood-alcohol level of at least 0.20 percent, more than twice Arizona's legal limit of 0.08.

A spokeswoman for her Los Angeles-based publicist, Paul Bloch, declined to comment on the arrest. In May, Bloch had said Ross entered a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center to deal with personal issues.

Diana Ross Arrested for DUI in Arizona

Singer Diana Ross was arrested early Monday on suspicion of drunken driving, police said.

A breath test showed the pop diva with a blood-alcohol level of 0.20 percent, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent, Tucson police Sgt. Judy Altieri said.

Police pulled Ross over after someone alerted them to a swerving vehicle, Altieri said. She added that the arresting officer said Ross was polite and cooperative.

Ross, 58, received misdemeanor citations for driving under the influence; driving with a blood-alcohol content over 0.08; and extreme DUI, or having a blood-alcohol level greater than 0.15 percent. Her initial court appearance was set for Jan. 13.

After arresting Ross, police gave her a ride to where she was staying, Altieri said.

Ross' Los Angeles-based publicist, Paul Bloch, had no immediate comment, his office said.

Ross entered a Malibu, Calif., drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in May to deal with what Bloch at the time said were personal issues.

Rapper 50 Cent Arrested for Weapons in Car

Rapper 50 Cent, whose hits include "Wanksta," was arrested Tuesday morning after police found two guns inside a car parked outside a Manhattan nightclub, authorities said.

The 27-year-old, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, was arrested just before 2 a.m. after the sport utility vehicle he was riding in was found parked in a no-standing zone outside the Copacabana nightclub, police said.

Officers then conducted a search of the car because it had tinted windows, police said.

Police found a .25-caliber handgun and a .45-caliber pistol, said Sgt. Mike Wysokowski, a police department spokesman. Police said both weapons were loaded.

50 Cent and the four men with him were each charged with two counts of criminal possession of a weapon.

The rapper's lawyer could not be reached by telephone for comment.

50 Cent was discovered by Run-DMC's Jam Master Jay, whose real name is Jason Mizell. After the Oct. 30 execution slaying of Mizell, investigators learned of a threat to 50 Cent; at their suggestion, the rapper canceled a performance.

Police later downplayed any suggestion that Jam Master Jay's killers were after 50 Cent.

The Jam Master Jay shooting is still unsolved.

John Mangan, the promoter for 50 Cent's scheduled performance at the nightclub, said the police search was unjustified.

"I think they're trying to get him … to connect him to things that he has nothing to do with," Mangan said.

50 Cent's vehicle "was parked outside the club for no longer than two minutes, and as he was getting out of the car to go inside the police came up and stopped him and told him to get back in the car and go around the corner, where they searched the car," said Mangan.

Eminem has been helping 50 Cent in his career, and his song "Wanksta" is on Eminem's multiplatinum "8 Mile" soundtrack.

Britney Spears Sues Shoemaker Skechers

Britney Spears has sued Skechers for breach of agreement, claiming the shoemaker failed to pay her adequately for marketing a line of roller skates and accessories.

The $1.5 million federal lawsuit, filed Monday, claims the company failed to find outside businesses to manufacture accessories for the line. Instead, Skechers used the pop singer's presence in advertisements to increase sales of its own similar skate products, according to the lawsuit.

As a result, Spears did not receive expected bonuses for sales of her line, the lawsuit said.

The action also claims that ads featuring Spears ran before skates from her collection were available, causing customers to buy Skechers' skates instead.

Skechers officials could not be reached for comment. A call placed after business hours to the company's Manhattan Beach headquarters rang unanswered.

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