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Rain's world tour clouded by snafu

With the South Korean pop star forced to cancel his show at the last minute, the blame game kicks off full-force.

July 03, 2007|Chris Lee | Times Staff Writer

South Korean pop superstar Rain blamed local concert promoter V2B Global for technical difficulties that resulted in the cancellation of his performance Saturday night at Staples Center -- the last in a string of planned U.S. shows in the singer-dancer-actor's "Rain's Coming" world tour that failed to go on as scheduled.

But viewed another way, the show's last-minute cancellation can be partially attributed to a breakdown of the K-pop phenom's celebrity industrial complex. Miscommunication between his various American tour promoters, as well as Rain's recent changeover from his powerful talent manager, Park Jin Young, to a new manager accounted for at least some of the confusion that led to the technical trouble that stopped the show.

The missed concert -- for which 77% of available tickets were sold, according to Ticketmaster -- could push back his efforts to establish his pop stardom in America by as much as two years.

"The local promoter didn't set up everything," Rain, whose real name is Jung Ji-Hoon, said through an interpreter Sunday. "When I came to the venue, the LED screen couldn't be set up. I have rain falling in the concert -- that couldn't work. The stage wasn't set up, there were no lights, no sound. I wanted to do a great show. But yesterday, I couldn't get on stage."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday July 10, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 43 words Type of Material: Correction
Rain concert: An article in Tuesday's Calendar about South Korean pop star Rain said JYP Entertainment sold the rights to the singer's American tour to Revolution Entertainment. JYP sold the rights to another promoter, StarM, which in turn sold the rights to Revolution.

V2B's Chief Executive Andy Kim, however, tells a very different story, insisting the tour's original promoter, StarM, pulled the plug on the show after discovering the production would not be able to use Rain's massive Korean-made LED screen -- a central component of his stage show -- because it didn't conform to American electrical standards.

"It was a safety issue on the equipment they provided," Kim said. "But the real reason the concert was canceled is the Korean team didn't move quickly enough to make an alternative plan.

"They kicked me, the local promoter, out of meetings they were having with management," he added. "Then at 5:30 [Saturday], Staples wants me to approve a press release saying the concert has been canceled. StarM didn't consult me. I didn't know until I saw the press release."

Rain, 25, part of the globally popular "Korean Wave" movement and often referred to as "the Justin Timberlake of Asia," said he felt sad and angry about disappointing fans, some of whom had traveled from Tokyo, Hong Kong and Seoul for the performance.

"I'm feeling ridiculous about the situation," said Rain. "I came here [to Los Angeles] two weeks before the concert, prepared everything and had a press conference. Then the stage wasn't set up. I couldn't even sing."

The cancellation comes as the capper on what the Korea Times called "perhaps the most ambitious and expensive world concert tour by any Korean artist" and on the heels of postponed Rain concerts last month in Honolulu, New York, Atlanta and San Francisco because, Kim said, tour organizers hadn't anticipated the difficulties of transporting the singer's 28 18-wheel trucks worth of stage rigging and 96-person entourage from Asia.

The "Rain's Coming" tour -- and specifically, the Staples Center gig -- was Rain's last professional attachment to JYP Entertainment, the management firm owned by his former manager, Park, a former pop superstar in his own right who Rain let go in May. (His new manager, Dong Won Cho, quit JYP to work for Rain.) JYP sold the rights to the American tour stops to another Korean firm, Revolution Entertainment, which in turn parceled them out to promoters including Click Entertainment in Hawaii and V2B Global. In January 2006, JYP oversaw Rain's performances in New York and Las Vegas, which went off without a hitch.

On Saturday, StarM, the tour's original promoter, put out a news release that explained the technical concerns that it said stopped the concert and accused V2B Global of financial mismanagement.

"Literally, the stage structure wasn't set up until one and a half hours before the show," the statement reads. "Moreover, it was ordered that none of the electronically related tour equipment (LED screen, conveyor belt, stage setting generator, special effects pump, etc.) brought from Korea could be used because of the Staples Center provision based on the electronics security and fire services act."

It continued: "The fundamental problem was the local promoter V2B Global's financial status. The local production team wasn't paid on time ...."

Kim denies the allegations, countering, "We paid cash to everyone at the show."

At 6:30 p.m. Saturday, just an hour and a half before show time, notices that the concert had been canceled went up at Staples Center. Hundreds of fans lingered at the venue for hours afterward, however, some crying, many chanting Rain's name and all waiting for any word of what prevented the singer from taking the stage.

"I couldn't believe it. I had been looking forward to it for so long," said Michael Ryan, 17, who drove from San Diego for the concert. "It was like waiting all year for Christmas and then not getting anything."

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