By Terry Joseph
May 19, 2006
Even after he squandered two pages of last weekend's Sunday Mirror newspaper denigrating the Football Federation (TTFF) and in particular, insulting my production of the Soca Warriors vs Peru pre-game show, I still have no compunction about saluting Maximus Dan's talent.
But it would be irresponsible of me and worse, unfair to those performers who stuck by their word, to let Mr Dan's derisive comments go unchallenged, given the extent to which he misled readers, citing "disrespect" from yours truly, blaming his decision to boycott on "a hastily made arrangement finalised at the Exodus Panyard on the night before the game."
Insisting he would have performed free for the Soca Warriors, Mr Dan harped on "principle", saying he was victim of "a drastic reduction in fees" regarding last week's event. We don't know what his manager (Simon Baptiste) relayed but Mr Dan admitted receiving $4,000 for each similar gig prior to the Peru encounter - precisely the same fee agreed upon for last week's match.
There was no "hastily made arrangement" concerning his performance. Mr Dan's managers were contacted several weeks before the event and his reward agreed upon. Convening the finalizing meeting at Exodus Panyard on the night before the game was deliberate and, if we are to judge by Mr Baptiste's enthusiastic response to our invitation, did not present a problem.
The reason for scheduling the meeting on that night, as explained to (and agreed by) all performers or managers in lieu, was to offer artistes an opportunity to mingle with journalists visiting from 13 countries (including Iran, China, Japan, Switzerland, Sweden, England, Canada, France and Peru), representing some of the world's most influential media, with a combined audience reach topping the 100 million mark.
Indeed, the meeting could have been held during the previous week but we thought positioning it after arrival of the visiting journalists would add value to the performers' deal. Mr Baptiste, whose agency also represents another defaulter, Rikki Jai, promised to attend and "take advantage of the opportunity with an appropriate supply of calling cards."
In essence, then, Mr Dan's claim about "principle" boils down to reluctance by TTFF to give him an extra ticket costing TT$300, after his handlers agreed on performance fees of TT$4,000, an opportunity to charm visiting international journalists and then, at game time, show his talent to millions of viewers worldwide.
Without supplying any evidence, Mr Dan concluded that being offered only one free pass for the game resulted from "a TTFF decision to sell the bulk of tickets to corporate sponsors who, in turn, were expected to sponsor artistes." This too is patently incorrect. As several published comments would support, the decision was to offer no complimentaries (to anyone - including Works Minister Colm Imbert) for the match which was, after all, a fund-raiser.
What happened was that sponsors, most notably Kenny's Sports, subsequently volunteered to purchase passes for entertainers - one for each solo act and a reasonable number for groups like the St James Tassa Drummers and Clico Shiv Shakti Dancers.
At Tuesday night's meeting, artistes and their representatives were repeatedly asked if they had any questions. The answer every time was "no." The only performers who subsequently asked about the possibility of getting an extra ticket were Abebele and Iwer George, whose needs were satisfied on game day, as were impromptu requests from Falco and Colin Lucas.
Variation of the original rule was earlier applied to members of the Sagicor Exodus steel orchestra (who, unlike Mr Dan, donated its 35-minute performance), children of the Arima New Government Primary School and orphans from the St Mary's and St Jude's homes, who performed with Rosalind Gabriel's children's band in the finale. TSTT purchased tickets for and paid performance fees to members of the Laventille Rhythm Section.
Mark you, this is the same Mr Dan who, upon applying to purchase eight tickets for each of the three first-round games being played by the Soca Warriors in Germany, was offered two free for each game. On reminding Mr Baptiste of the TTFF offer, he said "that is Germany and this is Trinidad," as if principle varies by destination.
It is also noteworthy that, less than 48 hours after the pre-game show he boycotted, accusing the TTFF of disrespect and other terrible things, claiming it was "not money but principle," the same Mr Maximus Dan calmly accepted fees from the same football body for performing at the fund-raising dinner at the Centre of Excellence.
Form your own conclusions.
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