Not even death stopped Michael Jackson from performing — as a hologram, that is — but the family of Roy Orbison says a dispute with their business manager has brought a halt to their chances of bringing their father’s digital reincarnation off the stage. The late rock icon’s sons say that Hologram USA breached its contract for an Orbison hologram show and is now interfering with their efforts to create one with a new company.
According to a complaint filed in a New York state court, Hologram USA approached Roy's Boys in 2014 about creating a 90-minute performance by an Orbison hologram. The agreement stipulated that a prototype was to be delivered for review within nine months. However, by October 2016, Roy's Boys still hadn't seen it and sent Hologram USA a notice of termination.
This spring, Orbison's sons formed a new partnership with BASE Holograms. A few months ago, they announced tours in both the UK and Australia. Hologram USA didn’t like hearing that news.
"On November 7, 2017, Defendant's attorney, Barry Rothman, contacted Plaintiff's counsel in New York and advised that despite the termination letter having been sent well over a year ago, Defendants were now disputing such termination," writes Roy's Boys attorney Dorothy Weber in the complaint. "Mr. Rothman threatened to sue Plaintiffs and abruptly terminated the call."
In addition, Roy's Boys said Hologram USA CEO Alki David also contacted BASE CEO Brian Becker and threatened to sue.
Rothman told The Hollywood Reporter that it’s still a possibility. "Our position is that the agreement is in full force and effect," he says, adding that Hologram USA will defend this action and will likely sue BASE for tortious interference.
Rothman said the agreement specified that Orbison's estate couldn’t at any time communicate with a competitor and that any dispute was subject to a 21-day cure provision. He claims that Roy's Boys unilaterally decided that the agreement wasn't effective, and BASE took the estate's word for it.
Roy's Boys requested the court to declare that its agreement with Hologram USA was properly terminated and for an injunction barring the company from using any Roy Orbison trademarks or intellectual property.
Reference: The Hollywood Reporter (November 21, 2017) “Roy Orbison Hologram at Center of New Legal Fight”