Ozzy Osbourne Drops Lawsuit Against AEG
By Jem Aswad
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – The legal battle between Ozzy Osbourne and AEG officially ended Friday when the singer’s attorney agreed to drop a lawsuit against the live-entertainment giant stemming from its block-booking policy, which the company ended last week . The policy required artists playing the London’s O2 Arena to also perform at Staples Center in Los Angeles, both of which AEG controls; the lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice.
Osbourne’s manager Sharon Osbourne filed the strongly worded lawsuit in March seeking an end to AEG’s policy after running into issues during the planning of the singer’s current “No More Tours 2” jaunt. But in many ways it was a side-battle in the long-running turf war between AEG and Azoff-MSG, which owns the Forum, Staples’ main competitor in the Los Angeles area. AEG chief Jay Marciano claimed that the policy, which began in July of 2017, was implemented in response to a similar policy connection involving Madison Square Garden and the Forum; Irving Azoff said that such a policy was not in place at his company’s venues; more legal wrangling and aggressively worded statements to the press ensued. Last week AEG dropped the policy, with Marciano saying he was satisfied that artists were not “being pressured to play the Forum to gain access to the Garden.”
After the AEG move was announced, Osbourne attorney Dan Wall told Variety “The lawsuit exists only to remove this block booking requirement, and if that’s gone, there is no further need for litigation”; it was made official on Friday. “Sharon and Ozzy are pleased that there is no longer anything to litigate,” Wall said on Saturday.
AEG’s statement on Saturday implicated its chief competitor, Live Nation (which is the promoter of the Osbourne tour), reading in part: “We were fully prepared to see the case through to vindicate our policy, but now that Osbourne has decided to dismiss with prejudice, the case is over. Our policy was an appropriate, lawful and effective competitive response to Irving Azoff’s pressure tactics seeking to force artists into the Forum. If those tactics resurface, we will redeploy our policy as needed. … The suit was a transparent public relations ploy … instigated by Azoff and paid for by MSG and . It was hatched on the back of an artist who we believe had no idea what he was biting off.”
Reps for Azoff, Live Nation and Osbourne declined or did not immediately respond to Variety’s request for comment on AEG’s statement.