A few corrections to my report a while back on the lawsuit involving opera singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Australian pop singer John Farnham. The coverage I saw claimed that Dame Kiri had backed out of a joint-concert deal because of her horror at discovering that women tended to throw underwear at Mr. Farnham during his performances. Looking at the opinion, however (and thanks to the contributor who sent me a copy), shows that there was more to the story.
The opinion details lengthy negotiations over the concert deal, which I am sparing you. These went on for months. Then, the first sign of trouble:
On 7 November 2003 Mr Grace [Dame Kiri’s manager] sent an
email to Mr Williams [Farnham’s manager] advising that he . . . had spoken to her about “Australia 2005.” It is
apparent that Mr Williams had obtained a photograph of Dame Kiri on a
Harley Davidson motorbike and had discussed with Mr Grace the use of
such an image in promotional material.
One does not often see a photograph that depicts an opera star and Dame of the British Empire straddling a Harley Davidson motorbike. Nor will one’s eyes alight upon such a photograph anytime soon, as Dame Kiri unsurprisingly nixed it.
A few weeks later, the knickers issue arose:
Dame Kiri gave evidence that . . . she viewed the DVD of one of Mr Farnham’s performances
and . . . observed that women’s lingerie was thrown on to the stage and Mr
Farnham collected it and held it during the performance, she thought,
as some sort of “trophy.” Dame Kiri claimed that she found that
“embarrassing” and “disrespectful” to her . . . . Dame
Kiri then [a month later] telephoned Mr Williams . . . . [She]
claimed that the following conversation took place:
Dame Kiri: Frank, this is Kiri. I’m
very concerned. I’ve watched the DVDs of John Farnham. They’re
absolutely horrendous. Undies were being thrown at him . . . .
The deal ultimately fell through, of course. But the judge found that the real reason was not the undies but rather Dame Kiri’s irritation that Farnham had missed a meeting with her. (She did not believe his excuse that he was reluctant to fly in a "light aircraft during severe electrical storms" in order to make the meeting.) Ultimately, most of the claims were dismissed, but plaintiff did recover some cash from defendant’s management company.
With hindsight, it’s a little surprising that it took a year and a half for everyone to realize these two would not be a great team.