Diary of a Doors Drama
W E E K S E V E N
Monday, August 9, 2004 Half day only today, so the court session began at 1:30. John was in court this afternoon when the jurors were brought in at 1:45. Mr. Tom Vitorino was sworn in as today's witness.
Defense attorney William Briggs began the questioning by confirming that The Doors of the 21st Century have recently completed tours of both Europe and Canada, and asked Mr. Vitorino if he had accompanied the band on those tour dates and attended the shows himself. With the affirmative answer from the witness, Mr. Briggs then asked him to describe the shows. Mr. Vitorino talked about the enthusiastic audiences that attend the shows, and briefly recapped the last three concerts: Manitoba was a festival with an attendance of 11,000, where they headlined the bill they shared with Journey. It had a 'Woodstock' vibe, with the stage set up in a field. Toronto was a half-amphitheater set-up, with an audience of 6,100. Montreal -- in part because of its French population -- had an artistic Paris vibe; the band played past their 11:00 curfew.
When Mr. Vitorino was asked if Ian is imitating Jim, he responded that Ian doesn't have to imitate anyone: he has sold over 17 million records with The Cult, has won many awards, does not dress like Jim, and has gone through many hairstyles over the years.
Mr. Vitorino has been involved in managing this band since its inception, about April 2002. He had learned of the Harley Davidson 100th anniversary celebration while calling promoters about another performance idea. The Doors' manager Danny Sugerman was unable to fulfill a lot of the responsibilities due to health reasons, so Mr. Vitorino took over on the Harley opportunity. The witness answered questions about the promotion and advertising, especially as related to John's possible participation and how that would be depicted.
Before and after the afternoon break from 2:55 to 3:25, Mr. Briggs questioned Mr. Vitorino on summary budgets and cost reports that he had prepared for the Fontana and Toronto Harley shows. There was testimony about problems with the advertising in Las Vegas for the Palms show, originally scheduled for December 8th and postponed to January due to Stewart's injury.
Mr. Vitorino answered questions about VH-1 Storytellers. After initially discussing it with Robby, he contacted Danny Sugerman. Danny did not feel it could be done, but told the witness "if you can do it, go ahead." After several meetings, the band members agreed and the witness pitched the idea to VH-1. Mr. Vitorino answered questions about the rehearsals for that program.
Mr. Briggs rested his questioning at 4:00, and plaintiff attorney Jeff Forer began cross-examination. Mr. Forer questioned Mr. Vitorino about the compensation for the participants, both crew and performers. He also questioned the witness about his prior work history with the Robby Krieger Band, starting in 1998. He was questioned about advertising and introductions for some of the D21C shows, and then this half-day of court ended at 4:30.
Tomorrow will be the return of Mr. Clainos to finish his testimony from last Thursday, and then Mr. Vitorino will continue on the stand. Also expected this week are the Danny Sugerman videotaped deposition, and testimony from Ian, Robby, and Ray.
Tuesday, August 10, 2004 John and Leslie were in court when the jurors were brought in at 9:40. Mr. Nicholas Clainos returned to the witness chair to resume his testimony from last Thursday. Plaintiff attorney Mr. Jerry Mandel resumed his cross-examination by reminding the witness where they left off the questioning last week. Since this witness was once a practicing attorney, has managed bands and also has been a promoter, the perspective from which the witness was answering was sometimes confusing and often needed to be clarified.
Mr. Mandel's line of questioning dealt with degrees of accuracy and/or acceptability regarding how the Ray and Robby coupling has been advertised in print and in aired commercials. Mr. Mandel rested his cross-examination at 11:00, and the judge excused the jurors for the morning break. When they returned at 11:20, Mr. Briggs was back to re-direct question the witness in the matter of logos and trademarks, which prompted a brief voir dire by Mr. Mandel. Mr. Briggs then resumed up until lunch break at noon.
Following the lunch break, the jurors were kept out in the hall while the attorneys argued some points to Judge Alarcon. The jurors were returned to the room at 1:50 and Mr. Briggs continued his questioning of the witness. When he finished at 2:20, plaintiff attorney Mr. Jeff Forer began cross-examination, with focus on the abundance of tribute bands that co-exist. Questions to the witness elicited opinions about what effect, if any, they have on the original band they pay tribute to. Mr. Mandel was up next for another brief cross-examination, and then he rested at 2:50. Mr. Briggs was back for 10 minutes, then Mr. Mandel. At 3:05 the judge began reading the approximately 18 questions that had been submitted by the jury, for answer by the witness.
After the afternoon break from 3:30 to 3:45, Mr. Briggs had a follow-up question to the witness regarding one of the juror's questions -- which brought Mr. Mandel back for another follow-up. Mr. Mandel rested at 3:55, the other attorneys had nothing further, and Mr. Clainos was excused at 3:55.
With only 30 minutes left in today's court session, Mr. Tom Vitorino returned to the witness chair to resume his testimony which had started in yesterday's half-day session. Mr. Forer began with re-capping where they had left off with Mr. Vitorino's interrupted testimony. The witness was questioned about radio advertising for the New Years Eve show at the Kodak Theater, and about the cover artwork used for the L.A. Woman Live DVD.
Mr. Vitorino was questioned about the image of Jim Morrison used at the start of some of the concerts, as well as the significance of the lizard used on one of the D21C tee-shirts sold at the shows. At 4:30 the witness and jurors were excused for the day, after Judge Alarcon had a brief dialogue with the jurors about the expected timeframe to trial conclusion. There are vacation and work schedules causing juror concern, since the trial has exceeded its original 4-week estimate.
Judge Alarcon and the attorneys did another re-cap of what remains following Mr. Vitorino's testimony. Not necessarily in this order: testimony from Robby, Ray, Ian, and John, and about half an hour of videotaped deposition from Danny Sugerman. The case then has to be argued to the jury by both sides, followed by the judge's instructions. All parties agreed that the case should be able to be turned over to the jury for deliberation by the end of next week.
Wednesday, August 11, 2004 Judge Alarcon was involved in hearing other cases at the usual start time this morning, which delayed bringing in the jurors for this case until 10:15. John and Leslie were there, and Mr. Tom Vitorino took his place back in the witness chair.
Plaintiff attorney Mr. Jerry Mandel resumed his cross-examination by asking Mr. Vitorino about some declarations he previously made about the band's name and related interest from promoters. He also questioned the witness about his understanding of the basic nature of this lawsuit; about the recently released L.A. Woman Live DVD artwork, and admats used in Europe.
Mr. Vitorino answered questions about his involvement with all three members of The Doors going back to VH-1 Storytellers. He answered questions about expectations beyond the Harley shows, and meetings he attended about booking additional dates. He explained the special accommodations that Harley Davidson was willing to make for John that might allow him to participate with his tinnitus condition, and indicated that he has the same condition. He spoke about the evolution of the band as they have played together over the last two years. When questioned about whether the band has played any new (non-Doors) songs, Mr. Vitorino said that there had been some new songs performed earlier, but since they all ended up being bootlegged on the internet, they stopped performing them at their shows.
Mr. Mandel questioned the witness about the Ray & John relationship at the time of VH-1 Storytellers; about the use of "21st Century" as a modifier to the name The Doors; and about his knowledge of pre-existing partnership agreements between the band members. Mr. Vitorino was also questioned about his conversations with Danny Sugerman; the Harley Davidson press conference that first announced the upcoming Fontana show; other Harley show opportunities; and the development of advertising for the Harley shows that would satisfy the parameters of acceptable fonts as well as clearly convey the disclaimer about John's participation.
There was a brief morning break from 11:30 to 11:40, and then Mr. Mandel continued with questioning about the use of the font that has come to be known as The Doors logo: i.e., the name could be used, but not in that specific font. This held true in the Oliver Stone movie as well as for the Harley Davidson concerts. There was also some testimony about the photos used in the advertising for the Harley concerts before the lunch break from noon to 1:35.
Mr. Mandel continued his questioning about the advertising that was used for the Las Vegas Palms show re-scheduled from December 2002 to January 2003, and for the February 2003 Universal Amphitheater show. Mr. Vitorino was shown several 'element history reports' that track the development and changes made to admats as they are created. He answered questions about how the band was introduced on the late night television shows, and efforts made by their attorney, Mr. Stiffelman, to notify media that reviews had incorrectly identified the band as The Doors in their write-ups.
Mr. Mandel rested at 2:25 and the other plaintiff attorney, Mr. Jeff Forer, took over questioning, beginning with the L.A. Woman Live DVD artwork. Robby Krieger arrived at 2:30, just in time to see Roadhouse Blues from that DVD played for the jury, followed by several questions. Mr. Forer rested at 2:45, and Judge Alarcon gave the jurors a recess.
When the jury returned at 3:10, defense counsel Mr. William Briggs began re-direct with a few questions that followed up on Mr. Mandel's. Mr. Briggs rested at 3:15, and Mr. Forer returned for cross-examination with more questions about the L.A. Woman Live DVD cover artwork and its creation, as well as a question about a photo from the Minneapolis show in April of this year. After Mr. Forer rested at 3:30, Mr. Mandel returned with two more questions, and then everyone indicated they were done with the witness.
Everyone, that is, EXCEPT for the jury, who submitted 17 or 18 questions for Mr. Vitorino to answer. Those dealt with Danny Sugerman, the VH-1 Storytellers rehearsals, the John & Ray relationship, the witness' own tinnitus, his responsibilities as band manager, and his handling of John's objections as they were raised.
After Mr. Briggs allowed the entry of one more exhibit requested by the plaintiffs' attorneys, Mr. Mandel then had a few more questions. He rested at 4:10 but there was one more juror question submitted. Mr. Mandel came back to question one of the remarks the witness had just made, and then all parties rested and Mr. Vitorino was excused at 4:20.
Unfortunately for Judge Alarcon, he had another case in the courtroom waiting to be heard, so he dismissed the court and jurors ten minutes early, at 4:20.
Thursday, August 12, 2004 This was a day to remember, if for no other reason that the assemblage of talent and bloodlines.
Waiting in the hallway were John & his wife Leslie, Rear Admiral and Mrs. Morrison and Andy Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Ian Astbury and his two sons, and Tom Vitorino. Once in the courtroom, the attorneys had a few minutes of matters to discuss with the judge, and then the jurors came in at 9:50.
Ian Astbury was the first witness called to the stand and sworn in, while his sons watched from the back row. Mr. Briggs asked Ian just a few direct questions that addressed the issue of why he was even there or named as a defendant in the lawsuit. His answers indicated he did not know why he was there or why he was being sued; he is not an owner or officer of Doors Touring, Inc., and gets paid for performing; he does not imitate Jim, but does his rendition of classic Doors songs; and does not wear leather pants (those days are gone.) Mr. Briggs rested his direct examination five minutes later, at 9:55.
Plaintiff counsel Mr. Forer began the cross-examination with a question about the witness being one of those considered to play Jim in the Oliver Stone movie. Ian was questioned about his compensation for performing with the band, and asked about other projects that he is working on. Ian replied that he is working with Trent Reznor, the Strokes, Queens of the Stone Age, and Chuck Leavell ... plus, being dad to two guys.
Mr. Forer questioned Ian about his relationship with Danny Sugerman, who he has known since 1989. Mr. Forer rested at 10:05, and plaintiff counsel Mr. Mandel took over cross-examination. He questioned Ian about his company, Ian Astbury Inc. and its use in contracts with promoters in Europe.
Mr. Mandel entered the Live Cult 'Music Without Fear' DVD into evidence and questioned the witness about it, as well as other projects of that band while they are on hiatus. Mr. Mandel showed the witness four photos of him performing, taken from www.robbykrieger.com, and asked Ian to confirm that those were photos of him. Robby arrived at 10:30 during this part of the questioning. Mr. Mandel rested his cross-examination at 10:35, and then Mr. Briggs came back for just a few more questions on re-direct. There were no questions from the jurors, and Ian was excused as a witness at 10:35.
Robby was called and sworn in next. Mr. Briggs questioned Robby about the policy of The Doors to not license music for commercials, and mentioned that a song of theirs had been used recently in conjunction with the X-Games. Mr. Briggs led Robby through questions about the Cadillac commercial that was offered to The Doors before Led Zeppelin ended up with it. Morrison granddaughter Tristin arrived during Robby's testimony. Robby stated that if Jim were around today, he might have changed his mind about allowing the music to be used for commercials.
Robby gave testimony about his opinion on the use of the name The Doors, and the need for consent from either John or the estate. Especially poignant was when Mr. Briggs led Robby through several questions that established his long-term relationship with John: he said he had known John for 40 years, since high school, and that it was John who had introduced him to Ray and to Jim. Robby said he never wanted to be involved in this lawsuit: three 60-year old rockers arguing about the size of letters and the name, and that this never should have happened. Robby said it has more to do with John and Ray, and their inability to make up after having written nasty things about each other.
Mr. Briggs rested at 10:50, and Mr. Mandel began cross-examination with more questions about Robby's friendship with John and their joint projects after Jim's death, as well as the commercial opportunities that have been offered. It was 11:00, and Judge Alarcon excused the jurors for a morning break. When the jury were returned at 11:25, Mr. Mandel resumed questioning about the commercials, citing a number of artists who remain hold-outs to those opportunities.
Mr. Mandel apologized in advance for what would be an embarrassing question, and then asked Robby if, when they were on stage in Miami, did Jim Morrison engage in oral copulation onstage? Robby stated that no he didn't, and added that he thinks he would have known.
Mr. Mandel returned to questions about partnership agreements; John's tentative participation in the Fontana Harley show and the band's decision to go out as a touring band after those shows; mediation attempts; admats; and late night television show introductions. The court was excused for lunch at 12:05 and returned at 1:40. Ian and his sons did not return for the afternoon.
Mr. Mandel questioned Robby about the numerous lawsuits in litigation, commercials, and 'The Doors Collection' DVD with the commentary tracks. Robby said that the three of them had sat out by Ray's fish pool when they were doing those recollections. Mr. Mandel rested at 1:50, and Mr. Forer began cross-examination, starting with a document that was signed by the band and the estates for the 'An American Prayer' album. Robby answered questions about his understanding of the partnership agreements, as well as the issues that led to Danny Sugerman not being the manager for the band when they began playing the Harley shows. Mr. Forer questioned Robby about his previous band projects; about the 'Boot Yer Butt!' release; and tribute bands.
At 2:25 Mr. Forer rested, and Mr. Briggs returned for re-direct on points about the 'An American Prayer' album and rights to the poetry; 'Boot Yer Butt!'; logos of tribute bands and D21C; and prior mediation efforts. Mr. Briggs questioned Robby about sentiments attributed to him in John's The Nation article, and his understanding of partnership agreements signed back in 1971. Mr. Briggs finished at 2:50, and Mr. Mandel returned for more cross-examination for about five minutes before the jurors were granted an afternoon recess.
Court resumed at 3:25 without the return of Rear Admiral & Mrs. Morrison and Andy. Mr. Mandel resumed his questioning of Robby on topics of commercials, partnership agreements, ad changes, restrictions on use of the band's logo, and the band's chance meeting with Pam in the Sausalito restaurant the year after Jim's death.
Mr. Mandel rested at 3:45. Mr. Forer returned for cross-examination and showed Robby examples of proposed logos and insignias that had been developed, then abandoned. Robby was questioned further about agreements, logos, and 'An American Prayer.'
Mr. Forer rested at 4:00. Mr. Briggs returned for re-direct on some of the points just covered, as well as excerpts from John's The Nation article. Mr. Briggs rested at 4:25 and Mr. Mandel was back for five minutes before Judge Alarcon excused the jurors at 4:30.
Friday, August 13, 2004 This was another day to remember, as all three surviving members of The Doors had a turn in the witness chair. Like the song says: Strange days have found us, strange days have dragged us down.
John and Leslie and their son were in the courtroom, as were Robby, Ray, and D21C manager Tom Vitorino. Before the jurors were brought in, the recent commercial for L.A.'s X-Games featuring War Toad was previewed. Judge Alarcon admonished both sides about some recent outbursts in front of the jury.
The jurors were brought in at 9:45, and Robby was back in the witness chair. Plaintiff attorneys Jerry Mandel and Jeff Forer both rested, so defense attorney William Briggs began his questioning on the topic of that song. Robby explained that it was a re-mix of 'Peace Frog' called 'War Toad'' which is in the current hip-hop trend and is included in his most recent solo CD called 'Cinematix.' The X-Games had requested its use. The commercial was entered as an exhibit and played for the jury. Its use as the background for the X-Games promo ad did not feature any vocals from the song.
Mr. Briggs rested, and Mr. Mandel questioned Robby about how much money had been paid for the use of the song. After Robby's answer, Mr. Mandel rested his questioning, there was an attorney sidebar, and then there were three questions from the jury for Robby to respond to. Mr. Mandel returned with a few more questions as follow-up to the jurors' questions, Mr. Briggs had one more, and then Robby was excused from the witness chair at 10:00.
Next, Mr. Briggs called John to the stand and told him that he would not be covering old territory. Instead, he questioned John about his feelings about or toward Ray. John answered the questions asked and explained that this lawsuit is about property stolen, and not about the relationship. John was given the opportunity to explain what it was about Ray's book that had angered him,. He said that Ray got so much static about one of the points that it was changed in the paperback version, and added that Robby had said that there were other sections that ought to be changed, too.
An exchange of written correspondence between Ray and John in early 2000 trying to heal those rifts was admitted into evidence. Morrison granddaughter Tristin arrived at 10:30 while John was recounting an acrimonious moment between he and Ray during rehearsals for VH-1 Storytellers later that same year, in September.
John was questioned about the article he wrote for The Nation in 2002, which was later reprinted in Rolling Stone. John agreed that he knew it would be read by industry people and might discourage opportunities for The Doors to sell their music. John explained that he felt he was helping to make the music of The Doors more valuable, that he doesn't want to lose the soul of the music, and that despite the article there are still offers to sell their music. There are plans for lots of remixes of their music to be used over the next year.
John mentioned the rigors of touring and travel, and was asked by Mr. Briggs if he would accept the chance to go out and perform with Ray and Robby again. John said he would - in a New York minute! - if Jim would show up. There were a few more questions along this line, and John indicated that he would want numerous singers, so that they would not fall into a trap. John reiterated that he is not trying to stop Ray and Robby from playing, but that he does not want them to call themselves The Doors.
Following a morning break from 11:00 to 11:15, Mr. Briggs continued his questioning of John with a few about his current group, Tribaljazz. John said there are no electric instruments in his jazz group, and that a charity event that they played had an audience of several hundred. The Fontana Harley show had expected many thousands of people, which would have required a lot more output.
Mr. Briggs rested at 11:25, and Mr. Mandel returned to question his client. Mr. Mandel asked John questions about the onset of his tinnitus; his given consent for Robby and Ray to play without him as The Doors at the Fontana show; his earliest participation with the band when he went to rehearsals with Rick & The Ravens, shopping acetate demos looking for a recording contract (before Robby); 'Dalai Lama status'; and suggestions by the opponents that his lawsuit is the manifestation of a grudge match between Ray and him.
Mr. Mandel questioned John about book galleys: John explained what they are, and that he had provided those for his book, but that Ray had not reciprocated. John again told the story of the disagreement that he and Ray had during Storytellers rehearsals. He explained that he tried hard to come to settlement before the matters got to this point, and that he is proud of his The Nation article and his association with other artists like Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, and others who take a stand.
There have been other opportunities in the past to sell The Doors music for commercials which were vetoed by other band members without ending up in a lawsuit. John felt he was acting in good faith consistent with the legacy of The Doors when the Cadillac commercial was vetoed, and added that they have agreed to license 'People Are Strange' for an upcoming Keanu Reeves movie.
A quote from Ray's 'Myth and Reality' CD was read into testimony, and then Mr. Mandel rested at 11:55 and was replaced by Mr. Forer for one question regarding a House of Blues link for ticket sales that used a photo of Jim with the sparkler.
Lunch recess began at noon; the jurors were returned at 1:35, but a straggler delayed proceedings from resuming for another five minutes. John was back in the witness chair being questioned by Mr. Jeff Forer, co-counsel with Mr. Mandel and representing the Morrison family in this lawsuit. After discussion of a photo of the marquee from The Palms, Mr. Forer rested and Mr. Briggs was back.
Mr. Briggs questioned John about the cover of his book: his use of Joel Brodsky photos, the use of the name of one of the band's songs for his book title, and the use of the font for the title. John answered questions about efforts he made to resolve the differences before he filed the lawsuit, just days before the February 7, 2003 show at the Universal Amphitheater.
Juror questions submitted resulted in a sidebar and an early afternoon break beginning at 2:15. The jurors were returned at 2:55, but John had earlier indicated that he needed to leave at 3:00 for a sound check for his Tribaljazz performance at LACMA (L.A. County Museum of Art) later than evening. He was excused and left with his son. His testimony will be continued on Monday.
In the meantime, Mr. Briggs called Ray to the witness stand. After being sworn in, Ray thanked the jury for their time and participation. He added that he wished they (meaning, the band members) could have been here, but had commitments.
Mr. Briggs asked Ray to explain the genesis of the Cadillac commercial opportunity, the presentation that was made to him and the ensuing discussions with the other band members. When Ray was asked why Jim had gotten upset about the Buick commercial back in the 60s, Ray said that Jim hated Buick because his father drove a Buick ... and that was before Jim was told it would be for Buick Opel. Ray indicated that John was interested in hybrid cars, but that Cadillac was not ready to market one yet. Ray indicated excitement about rock and roll working with industry to move into a greener, cleaner future with more fuel-efficient cars, and disagrees that blocking the commercial protects the legacy of The Doors.
Both Ray and John drive (or, drove) Saab cars, and Saab wanted to do a commercial in Europe with their music. All three band members use Apple computers; that commercial - also vetoed by John - had already been cut, using the beginning of 'When The Music's Over. ' Other commercial opportunities were also mentioned, some of which were turned down by Ray and Robby, as well as by John. Ray feels that allowing the use of their songs in certain commercial opportunities would help to keep their music and Jim's words in front of people, since they only get airplay on classic rock stations.
Ray said this countersuit has been brought against John because it is time to determine if John has the right or the power to continue to prevent the others from accepting offers. Ray feels that Jim would want his words out there, exposed to new generations. When asked by Mr. Briggs why Ray seems so extremely confident in his remarks about Jim's wishes, Ray told the story of the beginnings of his friendship with Jim: UCLA film school, Venice Beach, 'Moonlight Drive', Jim moving in with he and Dorothy, forming the band, etc. Since the jurors had never heard this first-person account before, they seemed very interested and entertained by Ray's narrative.
Ray was questioned about whether he thought that - if Jim Morrison were alive today - Jim would support John's views about the Cadillac commercial? Ray replied that no, Jim would know it was another avenue to get his words out, and that the times have changed. He added that since John had donated his portion of the Pirelli Tires commercial to charity, Ray offered that they would all donate a portion of their Cadillac commercial proceeds to charity, and John would have $3 million to donate.
Regarding the "veto power" in the band, Ray said it was a euphemism in the 60's, back when Nikita Kruschev was vetoing in the U.N. ... it became a joke ("I veto Coors beer"), and then it became part of the legend, the mythology of The Doors.
It was 4:00 and one of the jurors had requested to leave at that time, so court was recessed 30 minutes early. One of the original 12 jurors had been assured that this trial would not interfere with a planned vacation ... and of course, at the onset it was anticipated this case would be finished by now. That juror was excused from further duty, and one of the alternates will take her place as a member of the jury panel beginning on Monday.
WEEK SIX august 2 - august 5, 2004 - Alan Goldman, Mr. Skinner deposition, Del Furano, Jay Coleman, Nicholas Clainos
WEEK FIVE july 26 - july 30, 2004 - Gary Stiffelman, Stewart Copeland, Anthony DeCurtis, Jaime Alvarez, Eric Kohler, Tom Vitorino deposition, Dr. John Anderson, Alan Goldman
WEEK FOUR july 19 - july 23, 2004 - Todd Gray, Ray deposition, Steven Bassett deposition, Mr. Skinner deposition, Tom Vitorino deposition, Mark Hurwitz, Rear Admiral Morrison, Michael Grace, Tommy Gear
WEEK THREE july 12 - july 16, 2004 - Ian deposition, Robert Greene, Abe Somer, Nigel Williamson, Robby deposition, David Kirby, Jerry Swartz
WEEK TWO july 6 - july 9, 2004 - jury finalization, John testimony, Ian deposition
WEEK ONE June 29 - July 2, 2004 - jury selection
Related media stories:
July 3, 2004 -- Times UK by Nigel Williamson: "And The Brand Played On"
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