Entertainment

Telecast won’t air Elton John speech after footage ‘held hostage’

Telecast won't air Elton John speech after footage 'held hostage'

There will be a bizarre situation at an event paying tribute to Sir Elton John and husband David Furnish this weekend — because the guests of honor will be MIA due to a bitter battle over footage of the couple.

Producers behind Sunday’s “AIDS Walk: Live at Home” telecast hired “Jersey Boys” actor Erich Bergen to make a pre-taped video of the couple accepting a lifetime achievement award from the organization.

But the firm, MZA Events, filed a suit against Bergen earlier this week claiming that he was “holding the footage hostage.”

Now it seems the suit hasn’t convinced Bergen to cough up the footage — so the event will feature a string of celebs lauding the couple, but no appearance from Sir Elton or Furnish themselves.

“There will be footage of Billy Porter, George Takei, Ann-Margaret – everyone will be congratulating Elton and David, but you won’t have them accepting the award. [The program] has to forgo the acceptance speech because they don’t have one that isn’t watermarked,” an insider told Page Six.

Bergen shot the speech weeks ago after Sir Elton’s Oscar’s party, but only submitted a watermarked version of the clip and then went AWOL according to sources familiar with the situation.

MZA’s suit claims he was paid $38,000 to produce the video and that he “provided the video in an unusable [watermarked] format out of spite and for the purpose of antagonizing MZA Events because MZA Events was unwilling to accommodate Mr. Bergen’s ‘my way or the highway’ approach to producing the video,” lawyers for the production company wrote in the complaint.

Another insider told us he further tried to jeopardize the event by attempting to get charitable organizations to pull out after he caught wind of the suit.

“He reached out to board members of the GHMC Aids charity and tried to get them to back out of the event and interfered with the relationship. He was sent a cease and desist letter,” the insider said.

Bergen’s rep previously told us he didn’t have a contract with MZA and “any suggestion of this is simply a lie.”

They doubled down on Friday and said, “None of this is remotely true and frankly, very disturbing. There was no contract between Mr. Bergen and MZA Events. MZA hasn’t paid him a dime. We’re suspicious of the motives behind the filing of the lawsuit. Mr. Bergen hasn’t done anything to derail the event.”

The second insider, however, insists that Bergen was hired. “Why would he shoot [the video] if he wasn’t? It’s all bizarre, but the event is moving forward. All of the charitable organizations are still behind it. We’re making the best of the situation,” the second source said.

A rep for John has not commented on the situation.

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Vicky Sequeira

With more than 6 years of experience working as a media professional, Vicky flaunts prowess in bringing the juicy tit-bits from the entertainment industry for the readers of News Brig.

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