The Concert That Counts can no longer count on the White House.
Five months of negotiations to secure First Lady Nancy Reagan's support for an April 26 anti-drug rock marathon at Pasadena's Rose Bowl fell through Wednesday over the issue of offensive pop music lyrics.
According to concert promoter Tony Verna who has been meeting with Administration officials in Washington since the beginning of the week, Mrs. Reagan pulled out as of 11 a.m. EST on Wednesday.
"We respect Mrs. Reagan's concern," Verna said in a prepared press release, "but there will be no--I repeat--no prior censorship from the White House."
Verna said he and his partner, Global Media Ltd. President Hal Uplinger, decided to formally withdraw their request for the First Lady's support by notifying Deputy Assistant to the President for Drug Abuse Policy Carlton E. Turner.
"After numerous months of cooperation with the First Lady's office, the concert promoters had anticipated presenting the Concert That Counts talent lineup through the First Lady this week at the White House," according to the Global Media press release.
A member of Mrs. Reagan's staff asked that some of the 40 rock acts that Global Media planned to present in the 11-hour anti-drug concert be pulled out of the lineup, however, because of "offensive lyrics on previously recorded songs," according to Verna. He and Uplinger said they were "unwilling to allow the concert to be turned into a debate about music censorship."
"Any attempt to sanitize the concert would have left a smell of disinfectant," Verna said.
As a result, the talent lineup announcement is being delayed until Wednesday or next Thursday at a location in Los Angeles, according to a Global Media spokesman.
Release of the names of performers lined up for the ambitious undertaking--to be broadcast to more than 100 countries over 10 satellite linkups--has been repeatedly postponed by the promoters while they have wrestled with several other problems, including the securing of Mrs. Reagan's formal endorsement.
A preliminary talent lineup sheet that was distributed three weeks ago among Pasadena city officials has been drastically revamped with several of the rock stars stating through their managers or publicists that they have dropped out of or were never confirmed for the concert. Madonna, one of the biggest stars listed on Global Media's "confirmed" list, said through her manager Freddy DeMann that she never did confirm and will probably not appear on the concert talent roster.
According to a Global spokesman, the talent lineup sheet was part of a 26-page "working document" and was not final, even though it was presented to Pasadena officials as part of their bid to rent the Rose Bowl.
Contract negotiations to present the concert in Pasadena came to an impasse Monday when the city's Board of Directors refused to renegotiate with Verna and Uplinger. City officials could not be reached for comment late Wednesday on whether the White House pullout would have any effect on the city's offer to rent the Rose Bowl to Global Media for $150,000.