Bakersfield's Fox Theater is facing scrutiny after Bakersfield-based Icon Concerts says officials there went missing with more than $150,000 in ticket sales revenue.
Icon Concerts claims Bob and Debbie Bender, who work as the Fox Theater's facility management, stole $154,000 in ticket sales prior to a show where comedian Jeff Dunham performed in May.
The Fox theater is also claiming they were not paid for the use of their venue.
The Bender's attorney, Kyle Humphrey, says The Fox is not involved and this is a dispute between Icon Concerts and the Benders.
"Things didn't work out between two businesses. The Fox Theater didn't lose any money, they weren't out on a limb for this. So tying it to The Fox is a way to promote one party's interest in adverse to the others," said Humphrey.
He says disputes like these are common.
"Sometimes business things just don't work out and they would never do anything to embarrass The Fox or disappoint people they've worked with for years intentionally," said Humphrey.
Both The Fox and Icon Concerts sent 23ABC press releases, which can be read below.
READ THE PRESS RELEASE FROM ICON CONCERTS:
(Bakersfield, CA - July 18th) - Icon Concerts, a Bakersfield based
entertainment firm, is investigating potential legal action involving the Fox Theater
regarding approximately $154,000.00 in missing ticket sales revenue from recent events
with comedians Jeff Dunham and Kevin Smith. Jeff Dunham is currently on his world
tour, Perfectly Unbalanced, and performed May 11th and 12th in two sold-out shows at
the Bakersfield Fox Theater. Icon Concerts became aware one day before the first show
that Fox Theater’s facility management, Bender Entertainment, and its owner/operators
Bob and Debbie Bender had gone “missing-in-action” along with the approximately
$154,000 from ticket sales and could not be located to discuss the matter. Fox Theater
board members reportedly knew in advance that something was suspicious and
withheld the information from Icon Concerts and the talent. At the close of the events,
Neither Bender Entertainment nor the Fox Theater were able to settle or pay Icon
Concerts the revenue for the events.
Not to disappoint fans, Icon Concerts chose in good faith to still put on the shows
and pay the expenses itself. “The situation is really unfortunate but in good conscious
we couldn’t let the fans down and cancel the sold-out shows”, said Doug Castro of Icon
Concerts. As Fox board members reportedly noted to Icon, “At this point there simply is
no money to refund the tickets” if Icon elected to cancel the shows.
Icon Concerts is a leading promoter and marketing firm for arts and
entertainment concerts, producing popular events in Bakersfield and worldwide with
acts such as Kevin Hart, Bill O’Reilly and Dennis Miller, Anderson Cooper and Andy
Cohen, Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias, Aziz Ansari, Trace Adkins, and more; having held in
excess of 30 such shows at the Fox theater in Bakersfield over the past 5 years.
Response to Icon Concerts
Fox Theater provides venue services only
The Fox Theater Foundation, owner of Bakersfield’s Fox Theater, is aware of an ongoing contractual dispute
between two outside entities over recent shows by comedians Jeff Dunham and Kevin Smith at the Theater. The theater has not entered into any agreement with Icon Concerts other than the rental of the Fox Theater as a venue and associated day of services. Since the Fox was not a party to the disputed agreements related to Jeff Dunham and Kevin Smith, we cannot speak to any specifics of those agreements.
Icon Concerts was previously informed that the Fox would be managing the operations and were required to sign new rental agreements with the Fox directly. At that time it was up to the promoter to explore all options. The Fox Theater’s current association with Jim Darling’s company is they represented themselves as being under contract as a media agent. As far as the theater knows, Mr. Darling continued to act as a representative by handling any comp tickets for the disputed shows.
Ticketing for such shows was handled by third parties not affiliated with the Fox Theater Foundation. At no time did the Fox Theater Foundation or any of its Board of Directors ever receive any ticket proceeds to be paid to Icon by such third parties for the subject shows. It should also be noted that the Fox Theater has also not received payment for the venue and services provided during both of the Jeff Dunham shows.
The Fox Theater Foundation remains committed to working with Icon Entertainment and other community partners to further its mission to restore the Fox Theater and to continue provide exciting entertainment experiences to our community. The Fox Theater Foundation shall reserve any further comment concerning these matters until additional information becomes available.