Thursday, May 10, 2007

Verizon Drops Akon and Gwen Stefanie Cuz Nobody Wants To See Them Together???

Verizon Pulls Out Of Stefani Tour Over Akon Flap
Gwen Stefani
May 08, 2007, 12:00 AM ET
Michael Paoletta, N.Y. and Ray Waddell, Nashville
Verizon Wireless has abruptly pulled out as the presenting sponsor on Gwen Stefani's current Sweet Escape tour due to an incident involving the trek's opening act, Akon.

Last month, during a concert in Trinidad, Akon danced provocatively with a 15-year-old fan. When footage of the onstage dance found its way online, Verizon got cold feet. (Akon's show in Trinidad was unrelated to and not part of the Sweet Escape tour, which commenced April 21 in Phoenix.)

In addition to ending its affiliation with the Sweet Escape trek, Verizon has also removed Akon ringtones and music from its stores and handsets. The Verizon Wireless V Cast TV spots featuring Akon are also history.

Industry sources put the cash value of a tour sponsorship package like the one between Stefani and Verizon in the $1.5-$2 million range in cash, which artists typically use to finance production, startup costs and other tour expenses.

But marketing value can be worth as much as $1 million or more. Stefani manager Jim Guerinot, of Rebel Waltz, declined to discuss the financial terms, but does tell that "we're just in the beginning stages of evaluating" the impact of Verizon's move. Regarding the presenting sponsorship, Guerinot says, "We're surprised and shocked they've backed out of it."

As for Akon, Guerinot says, "Akon has been a perfect gentleman on this tour. His show has at best been a PG show. Children of all ages have been attending. We have had no complaints -- nothing but satisfied people. And I would say that we're shocked that Verizon would drop Gwen Stefani as part of this whole debate."

Industry observers say it will be difficult for Stefani and her team to pull another sponsor into the Sweet Escape tour, which has North American dates on the books through June 30 in Las Vegas. To this point, no dates have been cancelled and Akon remains on the tour.

Akon and Verizon spokespeople were unavailable for comment.

Update Below

Akon Apologizes For 'Sexual Dance' Act With Underage Clubber
Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2007 (EST)

Rapper Akon has apologized for engaging in sexually explicit dance moves with an underage girl at a club in the Caribbean.

A video that was put on You Tube, and later on TV channels, showed the artists engaged in the explicit act with a fifteen-year-old girl in Zen night club in Trinidad.

As a result of the row, Akin was dropped by Verizon as a featured talent, and also terminated sponsorship of Gwen Stefani's latest tour, where the"Smack That" rapper was to perform an opening act.

Akon apologized for the embarrassment he caused to the girl, her family and the Trinidad community

"I want to sincerely apologize for the embarrassment and any pain I've caused to the young woman who joined me onstage, her family and the Trinidad community for the events at my concert," E! Online quoted Akon's statement.

He added that he did not want to take advantage of his fame, and that it was assumed that the club did not admit anyone below 18 years of age.

"It was never my intention to embarrass or take advantage of my fans in any way, especially those under the age of 18. That is why we tried to make sure that the club did not admit anyone under 18 in the audience. Somehow, that standard was not met," he added.

Last month, the girl, Danah Alleyne, had said that she was shocked when the rapper pulled her to dance , and that she did not know what to do.

She had admitted that she got carried away, but insisted that she could have done nothing about it.

"I was shocked when Akon pulled me to dance,"I did not know what to do and with the crowd cheering and stuff I guess I got a little carried away. But there was nothing I could have done about it. I was in a state of real shock. I am so sorry for everything," she said.(ANI)

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