Woodstock 50 Gets Temporary Gag Order Placed on Former Investors; Hearing Set for Monday

Dentsu is constrained from communicating with festival stakeholders or media until a Monday hearing.

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UPDATED: Woodstock 50 got part of what they were looking for from the New York Supreme Court Thursday, as a preliminary injunction was issued restraining their former investors, Dentsu, from “all communications” involving the festival until a hearing the court has set for Monday afternoon.

“We are grateful for the judge’s order, which prevents Dentsu and Amplify from continuing their baseless attack on the Woodstock festival and its owners, and we look forward to procuring additional relief on Monday,” said Woodstock 50 attorney Marc Kasowitz.

Dentsu declined to comment — as would be expected, given the court order prohibiting it.

Still on hold is the matter of the $17.8 million that Woodstock 50 claims was illegally taken by Dentsu, draining the festival bank account, when the Japanese marketing and investment firm pulled out April 29. That will also be taken up at the Monday hearing, along with whether the gag order Woodstock has sought will continue.

The next round between Woodstock and Dentsu will take place at 2:15 p.m. Monday in the court of Judge Borrok in the commercial division of New York’s Supreme Court.

Woodstock 50’s emergency application to the court was made Wednesday in a filing that claimed Dentsu is engaged in an “inexplicable plot to destroy the festival.”

The court signed off on Woodstock’s request that “Dentsu shall cease all communications relating to the Festival, including with the media, and Festival stakeholders, including state  and county officials, venue operators, local vendors, community representatives, insurers, producers, and talent agencies and performers,” pending Monday’s proceedings.

In the filing, the law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres had argued that Dentsu draining the Woodstock 50 bank account as the company moved to unilaterally shut down the festival was “the equivalent of one spouse raiding a marital bank account and changing the locks in the middle of the night to lock out the other spouse and starve them of money to live. It’s contractually wrong and morally reprehensible.”

On Monday, after Woodstock founder Michael Lang first made public his accusation about the “pilfered” millions, Dentsu issued a response to Variety, saying: “As financial partner, we had the customary rights one would expect to protect a large investment. After we exercised our contractual right to take over, and subsequently, cancel the festival, we simply recovered the funds in the festival bank account, funds which we originally put in as financial partner.”

Woodstock’s court filing fired back at Dentsu’s assertion that there is contractual language that allowed them to cancel the festival. As an exhibit in the case, Woodstock 50 included a copy of a production agreement between the festival and Dentsu’s partner, Amplifi Live, that said, “Any decision to cancel the Festival shall be jointly made in writing by the Parties.”

The court filing repeated the assertion on Woodstock’s part that Dentsu offered an odd quid pro quo if artists would abandon the festival: “Dentsu has even implied to certain performers that if they play ball with Dentsu and follow its demand to breach their agreement with W50, that Dentsu may find a place for those performers to perform at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, for which Dentsu is a major sponsor.”

So far, none of the 75-plus acts have pulled out of the festival (except the Black Keys, who bowed out very early on, citing scheduling difficulties). There is little reason for them to do anything but take a wait-and-see attitude. The injunction request said that “collectively, the performers have been paid in full a total of some $32 million,” fees the artists will get to keep whether or not the festival proceeds.