Promoter Claims $154,000 Missing From Comedy Shows

BAKERSFIELD, CA (CelebrityAccess) — The Fox Theater in Bakersfield is facing scrutiny after a Bakersfield-based concert promoter accused facility managers of absconding with more than $150,000 in ticket sales revenue from a pair of stand-up comedy performances at the venue.

According to local ABC affiliate KERO, promoter Icon Concerts claims they became aware one day before the first of Dunham's show that Fox Theater’s facility management, Bender Entertainment, and its owner/operators Bob and Debbie Bender had allegedly gone “missing-in-action” along with the approximately $154,000 from ticket sales.

Icon claims that the Benders did not reappear and were unavailable to settle the show or to pay Icon any revenue from the show, KERO said.

Icon claims that despite the alleged absence of the Benders, they continued with the shows and covered any expenses themselves.

“The situation is really unfortunate but in good conscience, we couldn’t let the fans down and cancel the sold-out shows,” Doug Castro of Icon Concerts told KERO. As Fox board members reportedly noted to Icon, “At this point, there simply is no money to refund the tickets”

Bender, who won the contract beginning in January 2016 to run entertainment and events at the Fox, separated from the venue at the beginning of the year. According to The Bakersfield Californian, Bender has retained local criminal defense attorney Kyle Humphrey.

Humphrey emphasized to KERO that the theater itself is not involved in the dispute with Icon.

"Things didn't work out between two businesses. The Fox Theater didn't lose any money, they weren't out on a limb for this. So tying it to The Fox is a way to promote one party's interest in adverse to the others," said Humphrey.

"Sometimes business things just don't work out and they would never do anything to embarrass The Fox or disappoint people they've worked with for years intentionally," Humphrey added.

Both the Fox Theater and Icon Entertainment released statements to KERO that we've republished in full below.

Statement from Icon Concerts

Icon Concerts, a Bakersfield based entertainment firm, is investigating potential legal action involving the Fox Theater regarding approximately $154,000.00 in missing ticket sales revenue from recent events with comedians Jeff Dunham and Kevin Smith. Jeff Dunham is currently on his world tour, Perfectly Unbalanced, and performed May 11th and 12th in two sold-out shows atthe Bakersfield Fox Theater.

Icon Concerts became aware one day before the first show that Fox Theater’s facility management, Bender Entertainment, and its owner/operators Bob and Debbie Bender had gone “missing-in-action” along with the approximately $154,000 from ticket sales and could not be located to discuss the matter. Fox Theater board members reportedly knew in advance that something was suspicious and withheld the information from Icon Concerts and the talent.

At the close of the events, neither Bender Entertainment nor the Fox Theater were able to settle or pay Icon Concerts the revenue for the events.

Not to disappoint fans, Icon Concerts chose in good faith to still put on the shows and pay the expenses itself. “The situation is really unfortunate but in good conscious we couldn’t let the fans down and cancel the sold-out shows”, said Doug Castro of Icon Concerts. As Fox board members reportedly noted to Icon, “At this point there simply is no money to refund the tickets” if Icon elected to cancel the shows.

Icon Concerts is a leading promoter and marketing firm for arts and entertainment concerts, producing popular events in Bakersfield and worldwide with acts such as Kevin Hart, Bill O’Reilly and Dennis Miller, Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen, Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias, Aziz Ansari, Trace Adkins, and more; having held in excess of 30 such shows at the Fox theater in Bakersfield over the past 5 years.

Statement from the Fox Theater

Fox Theater provides venue services only

The Fox Theater Foundation, owner of Bakersfield’s Fox Theater, is aware of an ongoing contractual dispute between two outside entities over recent shows by comedians Jeff Dunham and Kevin Smith at the Theater. The theater has not entered into any agreement with Icon Concerts other than the rental of the Fox Theater as a venue and associated day of services. Since the Fox was not a party to the disputed agreements related to Jeff Dunham and Kevin Smith, we cannot speak to any specifics of those agreements.

Icon Concerts was previously informed that the Fox would be managing the operations and were required to sign new rental agreements with the Fox directly. At that time it was up to the promoter to explore all options. The Fox Theater’s current association with Jim Darling’s company is they represented themselves as being under contract as a media agent. As far as the theater knows, Mr. Darling continued to act as a representative by handling any comp tickets for the disputed shows.

Ticketing for such shows was handled by third parties not affiliated with the Fox Theater Foundation. At no time did the Fox Theater Foundation or any of its Board of Directors ever receive any ticket proceeds to be paid to Icon by such third parties for the subject shows. It should also be noted that the Fox Theater has also not received payment for the venue and services provided during both of the Jeff Dunham shows.

The Fox Theater Foundation remains committed to working with Icon Entertainment and other community partners to further its mission to restore the Fox Theater and to continue provide exciting entertainment experiences to our community. The Fox Theater Foundation shall reserve any further comment concerning these matters until additional information becomes available.

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