Booking agency sues SHARK for dissuading entertainers from performing at rodeo

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2008:
CHEYENNE–Romeo Entertainment, incorporated in Omaha but
based in Pottawattamie County, Iowa, on April 16, 2008 sued the
animal advocacy organization SHARK, of Geneva, Illinois, for
allegedly using “false and misleading information” and “threats of
negative publicity” in successful efforts to dissuade singer Carrie
Underwood and the band Matchbox 20 from performing at the Cheyenne
Frontier Days rodeo in July 2006 and July 2008, respectively.
SHARK founder Steve Hindi sent video of alleged animal abuse
at past Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo performances to both Underwood
and Matchbox 20, he acknowledged. Romeo Entertainment, headed by
Bob Romeo, “has arranged for night show entertainers for Cheyenne
Frontier Days at times over the last 20 years,” says the lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed nine days before Cheyenne Frontier Days
animal care committee chair Bob Budd announced a ban on “the use of
hand-held electric shock devices at the rodeo except in emergency
situations where they are needed to prevent injuries,” according to
Cary Snyder of the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle.

“We’re just saying, ‘No, you can’t do it. Period.’ The
only exception is if an animal or a human would be hurt,” Budd told
Snyder. “We have been discussing it for quite a while,” Budd
claimed. “I think his [Hindi’s] video and comments and those sort of
things were probably the culmination of a decision that has been
coming for 24 months.”
“Following the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo in 2006, the
Wyoming Tribune-Eagle published a report and photographs that
documented the apparent illegal use of Hot-Shots, including by one
stock contractor who asked that the photos not be released because he
believed he would be disciplined,” wrote Snyder. “Cheyenne Frontier
Days general chairman Charlie West said the decision to alter the
rodeo’s Hot-Shot rules was made in early March, and event officials
have been working to fine-tune the policy before releasing it
The Romeo lawsuit was served eight days after SHARK announced
that Matchbook 20 had withdrawn from the scheduled July 18
appearance. Hindi said he was informed of the withdrawal by Matchbox
20 accountant Jeff Lamiroult, after he forwarded video of the 2007
Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo to Matchbook 20 in care of the Sidewalk
Angels Foundation.
Formed by Matchbox 20 lead singer Rob Thomas and his wife
Marisol, the Sidewalk Angels Foundation helps “people who are
destitute or homeless” and “animals who have been abandoned or
abused,” according to the Matchbox 20 web site.
“We ask that [fans] please understand that it would be
impossible for us to put ourselves in the position of making money
from what we believe to be the mistreatment of animals,” Rob and
Marisol Thomas said in a statement to Associated Press.
Speaking at a Cheyenne library on the day SHARK was sued,
“Hindi presented videos his organization took at the 2007 Frontier
Days rodeo,” reported Associated Press writer Bob Moen. “They
showed calves and steers being jerked by cowboy ropers and dragged
through the mud, and bucking horses in chutes where rodeo hands had
small electric shock devices.”
Encouraged by the outcome of contacting Underwood two years
ago, “We were watching the lineup at Cheyenne, because if we found
some people with a propensity toward animal care, we were going to
get in touch with them,” Hindi earlier told Associated Press writer
Mead Grover.
Underwood, a vegetarian since her teens, wore a “V is for
Vegetarian” t-shirt during the American Idol performance that
launched her to stardom.
“Compassionate fans of Carrie believed she was lending her
support to the Cheyenne rodeo,” SHARK recounted on July 27, 2006,
“because she simply didn’t realize the cruel reality of this
industry. SHARK sent her video of the all-too-common rodeo horrors,”
and “created a web site urging Carrie to stop her support of the
rodeo. Soon thereafter, a press release from the Cheyenne Frontier
Days Rodeo stated, ‘American Idol star Josh Gracin will take the
stage with Phil Vassar, replacing Carrie Underwood, who is unable
to perform for personal reasons.'”
Although Hindi suspected the “personal reasons” were
compassion for animals and revulsion at the rodeo violence, the
Romeo lawsuit was the first actual confirmation he had received that
the videos influenced Underwood, he told ANIMAL PEOPLE.

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