Diary of a Doors Drama
W E E K E I G H T
Monday, August 16, 2004 There was another amazing assembly of talent and family today. John & Leslie, Rear Admiral & Mrs. Morrison and Andy, Ray & Dorothy, and D21C manager Tom Vitorino were all in court first thing this morning. Leslie introduced me to a lady who was with them: it was John's second wife, Debbie. Even a cameraman from Celebrity Justice was sitting out in the hall with a few other fellows, but no hallway filming took place that I saw.
At 9:40 the jurors were brought into the courtroom. John was back in the witness chair. There were about 15 questions submitted by the jury which were unanswered last Friday because John needed to leave for his show's sound check. Judge Alarcon read the questions, which touched on topics about The Doors; commercials; his tinnitus; the band's name and name changes; a particular agreement that was entered into evidence and often discussed; and more questions about his feelings about The Doors of the 21st Century.
The last question was about his political affiliations. John answered that he is involved with the Sierra Club and with Heal The Bay, as well as the Rainforest Action Network, or RAN. (There was an article about this organization in last week's L.A. paper, which included several mentions of John). John explained to the jury that RAN tries to save trees. He said he and Bonnie Raitt and others purposely did non-violent civil disobedience against a company in Chicago that cuts down old growth trees. Encouraged by RAN, they called the police the night before and advised them that they would be non-violent protesters. They were peacefully arrested, and the company did stop cutting old growth trees!
With those questions answered, John stepped down at 10:20 and Ray went back into the chair to resume his testimony from last Friday afternoon under questioning by defense counsel Mr. William Briggs. The testimony picked back up on the topics of the band members' veto power and unanimous agreement practices.
Throughout the presentation of the case for the plaintiffs, Mr. Mandel and Mr. Forer spent a great deal of time entering exhibits and discussing numerous examples of agreements and contracts that included signatures of all four band members, or, after the deaths of Jim and Pam, other legal documents that contained signatures of Ray, Robby, and John as well as the Morrisons and the Coursons sharing Jim's estate.
Today the defense similarly presented numerous examples of business decisions made by only one or two of the band, and contracts that were signed by only one of the band members, but representing all of them. The Morrisons' granddaughter Tristin arrived about 10:30, as Ray was giving testimony about the non-unanimous decisions on hiring Danny Sugerman, promoting Bill Siddons, hiring Bobby Neuwirth, and decisions about accepting or demurring on certain performance opportunities. Ray stressed that the band practiced unanimity in making music, not in the paper contracts made up by attorneys.
Both before and after the morning break from 11:00 to 11:20, Mr. Briggs continued to exhibit examples of business agreements with other companies or individuals which had the signature of only one band member: some were signed only by Jim; some only by Ray; and some only by John. Robby arrived at 11:40 as more examples of single-signature agreements which were not backed up by the written consent of the other three, were presented.
Court was recessed for lunch from noon until 1:35. After the presentation of more documents that lacked all four signatures, Mr. Briggs turned to reviewing some of the partnership agreements with Ray. The Morrison family left for the day during the afternoon break from 2:45 to 3:10. Ray explained the events in London when he, Robby and John were there in 1973 looking for a new lead singer, which culminated with Ray quitting the band and returning to L.A. with his pregnant wife. Ray related his various solo projects and bands in the years after leaving Robby and John in London, where they went on to form the Butts Band.
Except for the publicity tour the three of them did in Paris to promote 'An American Prayer,' the next time they got together to perform as The Doors was not until the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in January 1993, with Eddie Vedder singing. After that was the VH-1 Storytellers program. Ray talked about a meeting they all had in Danny's office to talk about Storytellers and began to talk about rehearsals, when Judge Alarcon mentioned that there had been a juror request to stop at 4:00 again today.
Tuesday, August 17, 2004 This is a tough one to write. John & Leslie, Ray & Dorothy, and Tom Vitorino were in the courtroom. At 9:45 and before the jurors were brought into the room, the attorneys argued to Judge Alarcon about some new photos that the defense was asking to be admitted into evidence. The attorneys for the plaintiffs saw the photos for the first time on Monday, did not know where they came from, and did not want them to be entered. The defense argued that the photos could be authenticated by the photographer, who was in the courtroom: me. The judge ruled that the photos could be admitted.
At 9:50 the jurors were brought into the courtroom, and I was called to the witness stand and sworn in. The next 20 to 25 minutes are kind of a blur, but defense counsel William Briggs asked me to indicate if I was the photographer for the photos in question, and asked me to explain them. One of the photos was of the marquee in front of the Palms Casino in Las Vegas, and the other was the billboard for The Doors show there, on January 19 (2003). I explained that my friend and I had driven to Vegas two days ahead of the show. As we were approaching The Palms, I took the photos from the car.
The billboard photo showed the band name and all four band members' names. The artwork on the right side of the billboard was that of the circus performers from the Strange Days photo session. The image on the billboard was cropped to the extent that the poster with the four faces from the first album which appears in the admats and the actual album cover, was not included on this billboard. In addition, the font used is not the exact iconic Doors logo, although it is similar. The Las Vegas billboard and font use have been topics visited repeatedly during the trial. The inclusion or visibility of the names of the band members has been an important issue, based on the number of times it has been discussed in this trial.
The billboard that advertised the December 8th show may have been different from this one with the re-scheduled show date. Although I was in Las Vegas in late November for another concert, I did not take a photo of the billboard I saw on that trip. If I had, I would have provided it as well, regardless of which side of this case it would have supported.
The Palms marquee photo showed The Doors and the names of Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, Ian Astbury, and Stewart Copeland. Last Friday, a photo of The Palms marquee that said "THE DOORS LIVE TONIGHT" was in evidence, having been taken from the D21C section of Robby's website. It was presented by the plaintiffs' side to demonstrate that the band names were not being clearly identified, and could deceive or create confusion as to John's participation.
I could not get that particular photo out of my head over the weekend, as I was certain that I had a different set of photos. I found the pictures in my computer and provided them to the defense side for an opposing viewpoint on this topic. As I stated when I was in the witness chair and asked about them: in this case, there are two sets of truths. It is true that on the day of the show, The Palms had removed the names of the band members so they could put up the LIVE TONIGHT underneath THE DOORS. However, I had dated photos that showed that as of January 17, The Palms did identify the names of the band members who would be playing. It seemed only fair that the jury see both sides of that story.
After we got through that, I was cross-examined by both of the plaintiffs' attorneys, Mr. Mandel and Mr. Forer. I was asked how many shows I have attended (between 25 and 30), and questioned about the young lion image of Jim that was projected at the start of many of those shows. I was asked to estimate at how many of those shows the young lion photo was used (possibly about 20 of them). I added that some of the shows were open stages, that is, that there was no screen behind the drummer and no place to project images.
The home page from this website was put up, and I was questioned about the photo of The Doors, as well as the photo of Jim's face morphing into Ian's face. I explained that I found the morphing photo in a story about the band in Seattle last summer; I liked it, and copied it to use on my home page as a way of depicting the transition between the two bands that were covered in my website news.
I was questioned about how and where I get the reviews, and how I add them to my site. I explained that I use news search features that send me stories based on key words I designate. I added that fans from all over the world send me stories and reviews that they find, to share on the website. To add them to my site: I create a new page and always include the link to the source story. Since many links go dead after a period of time, I also copy and paste the story to the new page, so I've got the story for keeps.
I was questioned about whether I include negative reviews as well as positive reviews. I replied that I try to have a balanced site and have many negative show reviews. I was asked if I ever select certain negative reviews to exclude, and I said I do. If I feel the reviewer had a personal vendetta instead of actually doing a review of the show, then I won't use it. Also, if I was at the same show that was being reviewed, and cannot even relate to what was being written ... as if the reviewer wasn't there or didn't stay for long, then I would choose not to use that, either. I was asked if I ever omit positive reviews, and I said that yes, there are many that I have not used.
I was asked if my site contains a story for an airline magazine written by one of the earlier witnesses, Mr. Nigel Williamson. It does not, because I never found it. I was asked if I had another article he wrote, which I do. (It is linked at the bottom of every page of these trial updates). I was asked if I included an article by another witness, Mr. Anthony DeCurtis; I was unsure if I have anything written by him on my site.
The jurors did not have any questions for me, and I was excused at 10:15. Ray returned to the chair, where he had been when court ended Monday. Mr. Briggs led Ray through a discussion of the design that has become identified as the band's logo. Robby arrived at 10:30, as Ray was talking about the ownership and use of the font and its use by tribute bands.
The testimony returned to the topic of the Harley Davidson opportunity, and Ray's early assumption that John would play with them after the great response they got to the VH-1 Storytellers performance. Just before the morning break between 11:00 and 11:20, Ray began to discuss Danny's participation around the time of the Fontana show and his deteriorating health. He also spoke of a rehearsal session the three of them had at Ray's house, where John played his hand drums and some new songs were rehearsed.
Some exchanges of correspondence between Ray and John were reviewed. Ray stated that he wants to tour and play while he's still got the energy, that the time is now, and he is doing this for the joy of playing with Robby. Ray also mentioned that the photo used at the start of the shows is owned by neither the estate nor Doors Music Company; photographer Joel Brodsky owns the negative of the young lion photo, which is no longer being used in the shows. Mr. Briggs rested his questioning, and the judge excused the court for lunch at noon.
When the afternoon session resumed at 1:35, Mr. Forer, representing the Morrison family, began cross-examination of Ray by asking him to provide his academic background and military service. He followed that with questions about Ray's definition of 'intelligence' and asked him about his own IQ as well as Jim's, and the intelligence levels of Robby and Danny.
Mr. Forer asked Ray to tell the story of their appearance on the Ed Sullivan show, and then Mr. Forer read the section about the Buick Opel incident from Ray's book. Ray was asked about the band's decision to stop touring after the December 1970 show in New Orleans, and how he feels about Oliver Stone.
Mr. Forer observed that only the last 70 pages of Ray's book deals with the band after their first album, and asked why that was. Ray said "Well, that'll be Volume Two," which got laughter. Next followed a few questions about Corky Courson. Ray indicated that Corky controls the poetry. Ray also said he hopes that when this trial is over, he and John can make peace and talk to the estates about releasing Fascination 127, Jim's writings from Paris. There was discussion about 'An American Prayer' and the poetry album that Jim had signed a contract to do for Elektra.
When Ray was asked why he did not talk much about the Michigan show where Jim was drunk on stage, Ray again referenced "Volume Two." Jim's drinking and his health were the topics of questions, as well as the common speculations about his cause of death. Ray was asked about his relationship with Danny Sugerman, who had been first hired by Jim to answer the fan mail and later worked directly for Ray.
The jurors got their afternoon break from 3:00 to 3:15. More testimony on the topic of Danny followed, touching on his involvement with the band around the time of the Harley Fontana show. Mr. Forer read some pages from Ray's book into the record about the time when Jim said he wanted to quit. Following a brief return to the subject of the Cadillac commercial, court was once again dismissed early at a juror's request, at 4:00.
<> <> epilogue <> <>
This has been my last report on the trial. I decided after my Tuesday testimony that I would not continue to attend and report on it, once I became personally involved in the proceedings.
This is the eighth week of what was estimated to be a four-week trial. I attended by choice and was happy to have the freedom to do so. I enjoyed the contacts and the overall experience. I elected to put many important personal matters on the back burner for a month in order to have the rare opportunity to be a part of this unfortunate history in the making.
I'm sure that John and Leslie feel I have betrayed them. That was never my intention, and I can only apologize. After all these weeks of being in a neutral position and voicing no opinion about the proceedings, I regret that I had a decision to struggle with last weekend about the photos.
As I said when I was in the witness chair, there were indeed TWO sets of truths about the marquee at The Palms. The way the band was being advertised and promoted was such an important part of this case. No photos similar to the ones I had, had yet been entered into evidence throughout this trial.
If the purpose of this jury trial is to get all the truths and all the evidence out for the jury's use in making their decision, it didn't seem fair or honest of me to withhold those photos from evidence. Those photos won't make or break the case; they are just a piece of the puzzle.
If I had anything to contribute to John's case, I would have come forward with that, too. The attorneys for the plaintiffs presented an extremely thorough case, and I had nothing to add.
I particularly cherish the opportunity I had to meet and get to know the Morrison family. I hope they will understand that my testimony on Tuesday was not intended to hurt them in any way, just as it was not intended to hurt John. After my decision on Tuesday to stop reporting once I've involved myself, I regret that I did not have the chance to say goodbye, wish them well, and thank them for their friendship these past weeks. My wish would be for them to stay in touch with me occasionally.
The band flew to the midwest today for several shows later this week. Ray still has to finish his testimony, so this trial will continue into next week, which will be Week Nine.
After the closing arguments are made and the jurors deliberate to their decisions, I will post on my home page news what the outcome is.
WEEK SEVEN august 9 - august 13, 2004 - Tom Vitorino, Nicholas Clainos, Ian Astbury, Robby Krieger, John Densmore, Ray Manzarek
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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