City Desk

Dionne Warwick Defends Self Over Ball Flap

As loyal readers know, I have recently been given the coveted beat of covering Dionne Warwick almost full time. Warwick was to host one of the American Music Inaugural Balls–specifically the Legends Ball. The Legends Ball, along with the Urban Ball, were canceled at the last minute. This left a lot of people pissed off and a hotel staff left to deal with those hurt feelings and mountains of food. Warwick ended up on the night of January 20 playing Entertainment Tonight reporter at the Purple Ball. Warwick later gave an interview to the Washington Post which confused people.

The ball cancellation issue hasn't gone away. Today, in my e-mail inbox, came a message directly from Dionne Warwick. OK, it's actually directly from Dionne Warwick's publicist! Kevin Sasaki, "Public Relations Representative for Dionne Warwick" writes:

It was with great dismay, regret and disappointment that Ms. Warwick faced with the cancellation of the American Music Legend and Urban Balls to which she agreed to lend her name. When asked to lend her name as “host,” she was sincerely taken by the premise of what this event promised to be: for her to be associated with a historic gathering of young and old people of all backgrounds to celebrate the inauguration. Like her disenchanted guests, Ms. Warwick, too, was robbed of her name, reputation and her efforts on behalf of this event.

The p.r. flack goes on to talk about just who let Ms. Warwick down.

The flack writes:

"Ms. Warwick was assured by event producer Guy Draper and Billie Schley (who handled the finances) that all would be handled and organized, allowing her to simply act as “host.” She personally paid for her family members and close friends to attend and generously agreed to bring in her musicians to play for any performers who needed them to do so. In addition, she entrusted Draper and Schley to create an account bearing her name to handle ticket sales.

Upon her arrival in Washington, she was told by Draper and Schley that a potential sponsor never came through and that ticket sales were not what they had expected and it would have to be cancelled. At that point, Ms. Warwick was faced with a terrible situation that simply could not be resolved in a few days. She even extended herself personally, making several last attempts to call personal contacts to assist in the situation. Of course, she was devastated for the guests, and did everything within her power to keep the event alive.

As her name is recognized and associated with this event, Ms. Warwick unwittingly became the scapegoat for this debacle and has suffered public embarrassment and ridicule. Of course, she feels terribly apologetic to guest and fans who counted on this event, and, as a result, she is working with her attorneys and management on a plan of recourse and to ensure that the organizers of this ball refund every ticket that was purchased.

This statement may do nothing to stop the lawsuits from coming to Ms. Warwick's doorstep. One woman left me a message on my voicemail asserting that she planned on taking action beyond a mere ticket refund. So stay tuned.

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  • Mary D. Mack

    Guy Draper was involved in Warwick's failed AIDS foundation in the 90s. Warwick told Geraldo Rivera that she would not have been involved with Draper had she known about the bankruptcy and financial difficulties of his company. After being burned once, she became involved with Mr. Draper again? Fool me once, shame on you-fool me twice shame on me. Warwick's defense holds no water. I once had tremendous respect for her but her well publicized tax deliquencies (well over 2 million is back federal and state taxes) and her own financial irresponsibility through the years leads me to believe that she is either hopelessly and stupidly trusting (which is doubtful-she earned a PHd in Music Education) or she is willing to do anything for money or a nice hotel suite, percs, and a limo. She has squandered many millions through the years on hangers-on and so-called friends who willingly take whatever she gives them. Once called "the classiest black woman who ever lived" by one very famous African-American comedian, she has now become a joke for involving herself blindly in these type of scams and taking no personal responsibility for her own actions. No wonder one of the best and most famous pop singers of the twentieth century has squandered her good-will and her credibility. I have no sympathy for her.

  • Ed

    I do not understand what has happened to Dionne since the mid-80s. I echo Mary Mack's comments. I'm a huge fan of her talent, but am dumbfounded as to what Dionne has become.

  • Mary D. Mack

    Draper has been involved in other projects with Warwick and her production company as well. She has a long association with him. When the ABC Day One expose about her extravagance as the "mouthpiece" of the Warwick Foundation in light of its failure to properly manage donations aired in 1994, she stated that she simply "lent her name" to the foundation and had "no knowledge" of any of the financial activities of the foundation. Doesn't this with the "American Music Ball" all sound so distressingly familiar? The foundation's expenses were close to 80 percent of the donations. Warwick, in recent years, was just beginning to regain some of the stature and credibility she lost due to her involvement in the Psychic Friends Network and the failed foundation. I'm afraid her actions with this will further marginalize her. How sad that one of the great voices of our generation has trashed her own image with such dealings.

  • steven

    Wow, Ms Mack appears to know exactly what she is talking about. Always thought Dionne was a smart woman but like most fans, we only fall in love with the voice. we dont know the person. Long ago I felt she was slipping when she added an "e" to her last name through the advice of some palm reading I think or psychic. It failed of course. The dumbest person knows that changing your a letter or your whole name will not change your luck. Poor I stated when added that e. I felt she was off her rocker.

  • steven

    Another reason I believe Ms Mack is it flowed so well. Dosnt look made up at all. Would love to hear Ms Warwick respond to Ms Mack allegations lol. and I dont mean a publist either. I want Dionne herself to answer Ms Mack. Yeah Yeah I know. But it would be hilarious watching Ms Mack chase Ms Warwick up and down the tree. LoL.

  • Mary D. Mack

    I hate this for Dionne but I've lost all respect for her. Guy Draper was co-executive producer of Dionne's 1988 Showtime special in which all proceeds were to go to her foundation. I have a hard time buying Dionne's defense, having personally donated to the foundation in 1988. I never received an acknowledgement of the donation or even a receipt, but the check was sure cashed. Draper has burned her and her good name down to the ground before "without her knowledge" and she trusts him over and over? I don't think so. He even produced for Dionne Warwick's production company a 1990 Thanksgiving special for Gladys Knight in which Dionne appeared and there are more associations. Here is an article by Andrew Feinberg available online by Googling Guy Draper and Dionne Warwick:

    Charitable Gains And Losses
    Dionne Warwick's foundation faces financial perils -- Three-year-old AIDS education group demonstrates the difficulties in getting established

    By Andrew Feinberg

    Celebrity involvement in a charity is no guarantee of financial success, as the Warwick Foundation has amply demonstrated. The three-year-old AIDS education group, created by singer Dionne Warwick, is clearly in financial distress. Although the foundation has raised about $2 million, it showed a loss of $20,029 in its first year and $203,687 in its second, according to public tax records. (Figures for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 1990 are not yet available.) The foundation is unable to pay all its bills. And when it tried to register with New York State's charities regulator in January, its $25 check bounced.

    Critics say some Warwick Foundation activities have suffered from poor planning, mismanagement, and overspending. The group's defenders counter that the charity's crusade on behalf of minorities, women, and children with AIDS has been successful, pointing to its educational comic books, videos, and seminars. They maintain that the money woes are largely typical start-up problems compounded by inadequate corporate support and lack of attention from the media. ''I'm extremely impressed by what they've done,'' says Ella S. McDonald, executive director of the Richard Allen Center on Life, a New York-based foster care and adoption service. Adds Warwick: ''We are accomplishing our [education and advocacy] mission.''

    Others are disappointed. ''It's just horrible that a foundation concerned about minorities and AIDS does such a lousy job of handling its money,'' says a person involved in the group's L.A. gala fund-raisers last summer. (The benefits ranged from a black-tie dinner to an all-star concert featuring Kenny Rogers and Stevie Wonder.) According to L.A.'s Social Service Department, the foundation raised $801,505 from the benefits but spent a full $608,848, including $84,874 on salaries and commissions. That translates into an expense ratio of 75.9 percent, far above the 1990 L.A. benefit average of 36 percent, and means that less than 25 percent of the money could have been used for charity. Guy Draper, the concert's producer, disputes such accounting, saying that some expense money paid for workshops, and adds that every event was educational in some way, including the concert.

    Even critics acknowledge that Warwick is sincere about her foundation. But the singer has apparently recognized that her charity needs to make some operational changes. ''She is moving the foundation's primary offices from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles so she can be more hands-on,'' says her administrative assistant.

  • CopB8

    What I would like to know is how to prosecute Guy Draper and Billie Schley on criminal charges of fraud & theft? My sister bought three tickets as a gift so we could attend the ball and was devastated when she arrived early that day only to find it was cancelled. If anyone has any information, let me know!

  • Mary D. Mack

    Perez Hilton reported that "promoters claimed they needed volunteers' social security numbers to clear for a potential visit from President Obama, which was a total scam. People who bought tickets have been able to trace their purchases to a disconnected number in Dallas, and the "Dionne and Friends" foundation to which others mailed checks has been virtually inactive for years nor holds any record of non-profit status with the IRS. Sketchy! Calls and emails have not been returned, but an email from someone claiming to be Warwick thanked and apologized to volunteers, and, to add insult to injury, said that when help is needed again, "I trust that I will be able to call upon you.""

    I don't blame folks for wanting to prosecute. This whole scheme just sickens me. It's easy to connect the dots between the Ball, Warwick, her defunct foundation, Draper, and the use of the inactive "Dionne and Friends Foundation" as the front for sending money for tickets to. This sure stinks of a con in my opinion and since Dionne "put her name out there" maybe she'll at least have the class to put her money where her mouth is and personally reimburse those who were shafted and then if she is on the up and up and an innocent victim (LOL), go after Draper and Schley herself. Doubt that will happen!

    I do hope that someway you and all the others will get refunds.

  • http://none Ken Hollis

    Perhaps we should go to Ms Warwick's home and protest . Please tell me her address... I paid for 2 tickets and 2 airline tickets and a metro ride only to be told by a parking lot guard the the function was canceled.

  • Ed

    I don't think Dionne has profited financially from this mess. Perhaps Draper and Schley have from management fees? If they sold around 200 tickets at $500, that's only $100,000. I can't believe Dionne, or even the other two bozos, tried a rip off scheme for $100k? I'll bet Dionne used piss poor judgment to rely on the bozos again, and they really thought they could put on a successful ball. Incompetence vs. fraud.

    Ms. Mack is 100% correct with her facts on Draper's mismanagement of the Warwick Foundation; I remember that mess from the early 90s. Dionne has thrown away money before on her perfume ventures and her Sonday record company, among other things. I don't think Dionne had poor intentions, but rather horrible judgment.

    Take a look at this article from Philadelphia Weekly from a few years ago. It is quite insightful regarding Dionne's fall from grace.

  • Mary D. Mack

    Ed hit the nail on the head, and the article sums it up. She is no dummy. She has, however, been guilty of piss-poor judgement and total incompetence. She has never learned to say no to any of the hangers-on and the folks who have used her over and over through the years. Those hangers on will tell her anything to keep the gravy train going. The poor woman is 68 years old and can't retire because she is supporting so many other people, it's pathetic. She is touring constantly, and is booked pretty solid through 2009. Although she talks constantly about retiring, she keeps on plugging-got to pay all those bills and keep all those folks dependent on her. She was never competitive about her singing career; she always seemed more interested in these outside ventures and as long as Bacharach/David were driving her career (or in the 80s-Clive Davis of Arista), she was content to ride along. I think the author of the article may be on to something: Dionne was always rather passive about her singing career and maybe she does feel an ambivalence about it. I think her fans started to feel a sort of betrayal around the time of the infamous "e" she added to her name. Her involvement with the foundation scandal, the Psychic Friends Network, the pot bust, and now this debacle have left her loyal fans scratching their heads. How could such an intelligent, classy woman be so self unaware and seemingly unconcerned? Was the 3 million per year she received from the PFN worth all this? I have heard folks in the business say if she had quit singing in 1977 she would already be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. With all that has happened, she'll probably never get there and you know what? I don't think she cares at all.

  • Mary D. Mack

    I also meant to add that apparently Guy Draper has been to the Dionne well so often for these type of things and she hasn't learned to "Walk On By" when he proposes something to her? She blamed him for the mess with the Foundation, but who's to blame now? Does she care so little about her name and her reputation that she lets this type of thing happen over and over? Seems any huckster may have her name on the top of their lists of easy marks. But, I believe most of the doors will close to her now as she has no credibility left to lend to any cause.

  • Jbrown

    Call you bankcard company and ask for a provisional (temporary) credit. They should credit your account for the tickets within 24 hours. You then will have paperwork to fill and return to the bank but at least you'll have your money back. and your bank's help with keeping the pressure on these folks. Just passing on advise from my banker who saw Dionne at the Purple Ball.

  • Bernard J. Sussman

    Apparently, Dionne Warwick's Psychic Friends Network didn't foresee the cancellation.

  • Adrian Johnson

    Thank you Jbrown for the advice. I'm on the phone with my bank right now. Called them and filed a dispute the night of the ball. Hope others do the same while we wait for the outcome of this mess.

  • Adrian Johnson

    I just called my credit card company and they refunded me my money on my account. They are sending me a letter explaining the detail. I RECOMMEND THAT EVERYONE WHO GOT JIPPED CALL THEIR CC COMPANIES AND FILE A DISPUTE AND AS FOR THE CREDIT REFUND.

  • mary marshall johnson

    Dionne Warwick has been letting down a lot of people Lately. At fifteen she left her baby girl with a woman name Lucy. And has not looked back.I know fame is a big game in this world. Just look at all Diana Ross has done to keep her name in the game.You and Diana are idols in the world. but your sins will find you.You have to do right treat people like you want to be treated....

  • newton

    You people really irritate me because all you know how to do is scandalize and individuals character. Okay I bought tickets also and took the proper procedures to get refunded and as of date it has been refunded. Dionne Warwick lent her name once again and is getting the raw deal. Dionne didnt tell any of you to dip into your savings, rent, utility bills of any of that yet you blame her. She is an winning celebrity who is being affected by people who have no clue. It made sense to cancel the ball because people wanted to be where Obama was going to be and this particular ball was an unofficial one and his appearance was not going to take place no matter what star was going to attend and perform people wanted to be very near and close to him NO iam not saying blame Obama I am saying put blame where it belongs the event didnt sell the tickets it expected so who do you think should pay for the cost so that the ball would still take place OH! I know Dionne Warwick wrong again then leave her with a heft million dollar debt but for you selfish people better her than you right. This woman has taken so much for the black community she cant sing, she thinks she is white. No its all wrong the woman does and will continue to do what she believes in that will help out people of all ethics so chill out some

  • jamie


    WHAT WAS THAT? Please translate. Thanks

  • Dave

    Ha! Just realized the double entendre in the headline: "ball flap." Classic!

  • Bernadette

    I purchased tickets and still have not received a refund yet! Can anyone tell me how get my money back?

  • Kay

    Sure we can all call our credit card company and get reverse credit applied to our credit card accounts if we paid for everything by credit card but what about tickets paid by debit card. Banks do not credit cash back to your bank account when debit cards are used. also who compensates us for all the expenses we incurred soley because we were promised and sold on attending a memorable night attending the American Music Legends Ball. I would have not spent $400 on a ball gown plus money on all the accessories needed to go with the gown as well expense of a hotel room, transportation and not to mention taking unpaid time off from work had I known I would just end up sitting in a hotel room all night long crying with my ball gown hanging on the bathroom door. Those people ruined my night as well as stole hundreds of dollars from me and I think someone needs to be held accountable I dont care if it's Dionne Warwick for lending her name or the people who were the promoters I am the victim here and someone needs to be held accountable. I could have stayed in Denver Colorado with a $1 bag of popcorn and a $1.50 2 liter bottle of Coke and watched the inauguration festivities on television with firends or family and had a more memorable time. Looking for help from anyone who is planning a law suit I would like to join you or if anyone can help guide me in a direction where I can file my own law suit if no one else is planning to file a law suit and is not looking for others to join in. contact me ASAP. Its been over 45 days and I have NOT heard a word from these people as they advertised. I believe they feel we will just go away and disappear without holding them accountable. Please Please people lets not let them get away with this. I am not a wealthy person who can just write this off and say oh well it's a lesson learned and be out of all these expenses like some people are suggesting I should do.

  • jolo


    I am sure glad that someone is still out there who has not forgotten how horrible we were treated on the night of the inauguration and still how we are not being treated right with the website telling us that we can go to our bank and tell them that it was fraud. Is this an admission of guilt? We need to stay in touch and do something about this, either collectively or individually. I can't do anything either because I paid by check. HELP!!!

  • A. Dianne Harper

    I have been a huge fan of Dionne Warwick all my life. In fact, she has been my favorite singer. I was behind her through the Psychic Network days, airport confiscation of drugs, etc. Now, after 45 plus years, I have become so disillusioned with her and am sure I will never hold her in such esteem again. I am so disappointed!! I paid my money for the luncheon and big screen viewing, only to be told (after I had to ask) that everything was cancelled. I went to so much trouble to travel to Washington and find the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. I need to get my money back and have found no way to do this. I do not want to get a lawyer!!!
    A. Dianne Harper

  • Leslie Gamage

    I too am out of money due to writing a check. Today I am sending my second letter, after waiting 5 weeks, to the address posted on the website. I'm at a loss of what action to take next. I can't afford a lawyer, but I will be looking into something if I don't get a response in a month.

  • Lisa Connley

    I would to get more information on Guy Draper and Billie Schley. You have indicated that they are producers for many of the events that Ms. Warwick handles. What is the name of their company, if Ms. Warwick keeps getting burnt after lending her name why is she so loyal to them

    Just curious


  • Timothy

    Dionne Warwick has always been a scamming selfish woman, only out for herself. I can guarantee if she lent her name to this event, she had full knowledge of what was going on. I wouldn't be surprised if half of this money that was stolen from these people ended up in one of Dionne's overseas bank accounts. The woman has been stealing money for years. Have you all forgotten about the HUGE expose 20/20 did on her back when she bankrupted all of those AIDS charities in all those cities because her DIVA demands outweighed the money taken in. I remember years ago she was asked to perform for a charity event with names much bigger than her. She was the only one that demanded payment for her appearance. She and her entourage billed the charity so much for first class airfaire and hotels that the event ended up losing money for the charity. This woman cares about nobody but herself. I'm glad she lives in South America. As far as I'm concearned, Brazil is not far enough.