LOS ANGELES — Ne-Yo claims he was fired as an opening act for R. Kelly because the audience and critics liked him better.
Ne-Yo, whose real name is Shaffer Smith, and Compound Touring Inc., sued the promoter of R. Kelly’s tour, Georgia-based Rowe Entertainment Inc., on Monday in Superior Court. The lawsuit, which alleges breach of contract and violation of the right of publicity, seeks unspecified damages.
An e-mail to Rowe Entertainment seeking comment wasn’t immediately returned Thursday, but a statement posted on its Web site said the lineup change was solely promoter Leonard Rowe’s decision and came about because the company couldn’t obtain a “final, fully executed contract” from Ne-Yo’s agent.
According to the lawsuit, Compound Touring and Ne-Yo claim he was to be paid $785,000 for 25 shows and is still owed $735,000. Ne-Yo was scheduled to be the opening act for Kelly’s “Double-Up Tour” that began Nov. 14. He was fired after two shows, the lawsuit claims.
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A statement released by a representative of Kelly said it was the promoter’s decision to drop Ne-Yo from the tour.
“Ne-Yo may think blaming the situation on R. Kelly will improve his chances of collecting from the promoter, but if he does, he is sadly mistaken,” according to the statement. “Anyone remotely familiar with R. Kelly knows he is confident enough in his own abilities to be happy to share the stage with enormously talented people — the more talented, the better.”
Kelly wasn’t named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, “an unknown representative of R. Kelly urged Rowe to terminate Smith from the tour given the audience’s and critics’ more favorable reaction to Smith than the reaction to R. Kelly.”
Compound Touring spent “substantial monies in preparation for the tour and turned down other touring and performance opportunities for Smith in reliance on Rowe’s agreement that Smith would perform on the tour,” the lawsuit states.
Ne-Yo’s CDs, “In My Own Words” and “Because of You,” both reached the top of the domestic charts and had sales of more than 1 million.
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