Dionne Warwick Defends Self Over Ball Flap

Dionne Warwick Defends Self Over Ball Flap was originally published on City Desk on Jan. 29, 2009, at 4:21 pm

As loyal readers know, I have recently been given the coveted beat of covering Dionne Warwick almost full time. Warwick was to host one of the American Music Inaugural Balls–specifically the Legends Ball. The Legends Ball, along with the Urban Ball, were canceled at the last minute. This left a lot of people pissed off and a hotel staff left to deal with those hurt feelings and mountains of food. Warwick ended up on the night of January 20 playing Entertainment Tonight reporter at the Purple Ball. Warwick later gave an interview to the Washington Post which confused people.

The ball cancellation issue hasn’t gone away. Today, in my e-mail inbox, came a message directly from Dionne Warwick. OK, it’s actually directly from Dionne Warwick’s publicist! Kevin Sasaki, “Public Relations Representative for Dionne Warwick” writes:

It was with great dismay, regret and disappointment that Ms. Warwick faced with the cancellation of the American Music Legend and Urban Balls to which she agreed to lend her name. When asked to lend her name as “host,” she was sincerely taken by the premise of what this event promised to be: for her to be associated with a historic gathering of young and old people of all backgrounds to celebrate the inauguration. Like her disenchanted guests, Ms. Warwick, too, was robbed of her name, reputation and her efforts on behalf of this event.

The p.r. flack goes on to talk about just who let Ms. Warwick down.

The flack writes:

“Ms. Warwick was assured by event producer Guy Draper and Billie Schley (who handled the finances) that all would be handled and organized, allowing her to simply act as “host.” She personally paid for her family members and close friends to attend and generously agreed to bring in her musicians to play for any performers who needed them to do so. In addition, she entrusted Draper and Schley to create an account bearing her name to handle ticket sales.

Upon her arrival in Washington, she was told by Draper and Schley that a potential sponsor never came through and that ticket sales were not what they had expected and it would have to be cancelled. At that point, Ms. Warwick was faced with a terrible situation that simply could not be resolved in a few days. She even extended herself personally, making several last attempts to call personal contacts to assist in the situation. Of course, she was devastated for the guests, and did everything within her power to keep the event alive.

As her name is recognized and associated with this event, Ms. Warwick unwittingly became the scapegoat for this debacle and has suffered public embarrassment and ridicule. Of course, she feels terribly apologetic to guest and fans who counted on this event, and, as a result, she is working with her attorneys and management on a plan of recourse and to ensure that the organizers of this ball refund every ticket that was purchased.

This statement may do nothing to stop the lawsuits from coming to Ms. Warwick’s doorstep. One woman left me a message on my voicemail asserting that she planned on taking action beyond a mere ticket refund. So stay tuned.

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