New York Post - 13.03.2020

(Ben Green) #1

New York Post, Friday, March 13, 2020

The concert industry is
suspending all major shows
globally through the end of
the month as it contends
with the rapid spread of the
novel coronavirus.
The world’s largest con-
cert promoter, Live Nation
Entertainment, and rival
Anschutz Entertainment
Group are postponing
shows at arenas, which typ-
ically seat upward of 10,000
people, sources said. Ear-
lier this week, the Coachella
music event was postponed
six months. Dow Jones

Virus upending

concert industry

By Lisa Fickenscher

Toys ‘R’ Us CEO executives
lined their pockets with com-
pany funds on the eve of the
troubled retailer’s 2017 bank-
ruptcy — to the tune of $16
million, an explosive new
lawsuit claims.
Days before the company
behind Geoffrey the Giraffe
(inset) filed for bankruptcy
protection in September 2017,
chief executive David Bran-
don and other Toys
‘R’ Us execs scored
bonuses that
boosted their total
pay by 75 percent,
the lawsuit said.
Brandon pocketed
$2.8 million, the suit
claims. By contrast,
the toy seller’s ven-
dors barely received
20 cents on the dollar
in the company’s bankruptcy.
The New York State law-
suit was filed Thursday by a
group of creditors dubbed
the TRU Creditor Litigation
Trust. They are seeking $1.1
billion in damages, claiming a
fraudulent scheme to bilk
them out of billions.
The suit said Brandon began
arranging for the board-ap-
proved bonuses a few months
before the bankruptcy, in July
2017, as Toys ‘R’ Us’ losses
were mounting, the suit said.
“We have to be creative and
design something that works
for us,” Brandon allegedly
said in a July 2017 e-mail, re-
ferring to the existing execu-
tives’ pay plan, which Bran-
don noted was already frothy
compared to industry peers.
It claims Brandon’s only
qualification to be CEO of
Toys ‘R’ Us was his loyalty to
Toys ‘R’ US backer Bain Capi-
tal, a private equity firm
known for its ties to US Sen.
Mitt Romney (R-Utah).
The lawsuit cites e-mails
showing Brandon boasting
about Bain letting him invest
in their funds and deals with-
out charging him the same

fees “required for institu-
tional investors or higher net
worth investors than me.”
Brandon, who is currently a
director of Domino’s Pizza, a
Bain-backed company, did not
return requests for comment.
The suit also blasts Toys ‘R’
Us’ former chief merchandis-
ing officer Richard Barry —
president of the new Toys ‘R’
Us firm that owns the trade-
mark to the iconic toy com-
pany — for fraudulently mis-
leading toy manu-
facturers to send
the company mer-
chandise before the
company filed for
bankruptcy protec-
When toy execu-
tives including
MGA Entertain-
ment CEO Isaac
Larian asked Barry
about rumors that Toys ‘R’ Us
would liquidate rather than
reorganize, he denied it, ac-
cording to the complaint.
“We are going to have a big
year together!!” Barry wrote
to Larian in January 2018, the
lawsuit said. Two months
later, in March 2018, the com-
pany announced that it
would close all of its US and
British stores as part of a liq-
uidation process.
“At all times, the former di-
rectors and officers of Toys ‘R’
Us and members of manage-
ment acted in the best inter-
ests of the company and its
stakeholders,” the directors’
lawyer Bob Bodian said in a
statement. “Because none of
the named defendants has any
financial exposure, this law-
suit is just a misguided effort
to pressure insurance carriers
to pay meritless claims. We
will defend against this base-
less lawsuit vigorously.”
“The toy makers want a
public trial and for these ex-
ecutives to be confronted
with what they did,” said the
plaintiff’s lawyer Greg Dovel,
of Dovel & Luner.
[email protected]




Top execs face suit

By Alexandra Steigrad

The coronavirus has set Holly-
wood back on its heels.
On Thursday, Universal Pictures
pushed back the release of “Fast &
Furious 9” — the latest installment
of its blockbuster car-chase fran-
chise starring Vin Diesel — by
nearly a year, to April 2, 2021, from
its original release date of May 22.
Separately, the March 18 worldwide
release of Paramount Pictures’ “A
Quiet Place Part II,” the thriller star-
ring John Krasinski and Emily Blunt,
was canceled outright, with no new
release date given.

Earlier this week, Sony had pushed
the global debut of “Peter Rabbit 2”
to August from March 27.
And the latest James Bond flick,
“No Time to Die,” grabbed headlines
when MGM, Universal and Eon Pro-
ductions earlier this month post-
poned the film’s release to Novem-
ber from April.
The global box office, which
soared to $42.5 billion in 2019, could
suffer a $5 billion blow this year, ac-
cording to experts.
But with the coronavirus spread-
ing fast across the US, some say the
hit could be worse.
“All bets are off,” said Rich Green-

field, an analyst at LightShed Part-
ners, who, before the coronavirus
hit, had expected the US box office
to be down 10 percent from last
year’s $11.32 billion domestic haul.
“This will certainly be the worst
box office in history. The question
will be how bad,” Greenfield said,
adding that movie theaters will likely
shut down in the coming weeks.
Disney has yet to push back the
March 27 theatrical debut of “Mu-
lan,” the Mouse House’s live-action
remake of the 1998 animated hit.
Ditto for Marvel’s April 24 pre-
miere of “Black Widow.”
[email protected]

H’wood hits pause button

Not the right time

Superfans of “Fast andFurious” expecting
the latest installment “F9” (pictured) and
of “A Quiet PlacePart II” (inset) will have
to wait for their openings, which are being
delayed due to the virus outbreak.

AP (2)

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