It’s been 48 hours since Woodstock’s primary investor, Dentsu Aegis Network, cut ties with festival co-founder Michael Lang, calling into question the future of the 50th anniversary event. As its chief financier, Dentsu said it had the authority to cancel the event, a decision which it announced on Tuesday. Lang, however, maintains that “[does] not have the right to unilaterally cancel the festival,” and is moving forward with plans to stage the festival as planned. All the while, there remain unresolved questions pertaining to permits, artists contracts, and who will be paying for the whole damn thing. Needless to say, it’s a giant mess.
In a new interview with the New York Times, Lang sought to assure prospective festival-goers that Woodstock 50 will “proceed as planned.”
Lang said he is currently “in talks with investors who are anxious to come in” and replace Dentsu. “We have a short window to put this back together. That’s obvious. We feel it’s enough time, and there is enough interest, that we think we will accomplish it,” he stated.
All the while, Lang is taking legal steps to counter Dentsu’s actions, and has gone as far to hire Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Marc E. Kasowitz. (No, really.) According to the Times, Kasowitz issued an industry-wide letter on Thursday arguing that Dentsu did not have the right to cancel the festival, and instructed “all stakeholders, including the entertainers,” to proceed as planned.
That might be easier said than done, however. According to Billboard, several major talent agencies believe their contracts became invalid once Dentsu pulled out. “The artist contracts are with Dentsu, not with Michael Lang or Woodstock 50,” one unnamed agent told Billboard. What’s more, Woodstock’s production partner, Superfly, has reportedly also cut ties with the festival.
“We’re not even going to have a discussion with Lang until we see that every permit needed for this event has been secured,” said another agency head quoted by Billboard. “I’d also like to hear how he plans to convince fans to buy tickets for an event that’s been already canceled.”
However, Lang contends that the talent is “solid,” as every confirmed act has “been completely paid.” In a separate interview with Variety, he dismissed the idea of postponing the event to a later date, explaining, “…All of the talent is routed to us for that weekend and most of them have obligations beyond that, so that’s really not an option.
Asked by the Times how he intends to earn back the public’s trust, Lang said “the best way to turn things around is by your actions, not by your words.” He believes he is just days away from securing the necessary permits from the state of New York, which will allow him to finally begin selling tickets.
“I know that in this day and age when things are so buttoned down, and the industry is so buttoned down, this is kind of an oddity. But things happen when you are committed and have a purpose, and we are getting a lot of heartfelt support out there,” Lang added.
Lang expressed similar sentiments in an email sent to fans on Tuesday. “The bottom line is, there is going to be a Woodstock 50th Anniversary Festival, as there must be, and it’s going to be a blast,” he declared.