Athletes who moonlight in the music business have long been considered to be something of a punchline. One baller-turned-rapper's former employees aren't laughing.
ESPN The Magazine has learned that Adam "Pacman" Jones is in even more legal trouble—and has been for some time. Two former staff members at Jones' National Street League Records, his now-defunct Atlanta, Georgia-based music label, filed a civil suit against Jones in the Magistrate Court of Fulton County (it was initially filed in October '07) for nonpayment. Those employees, Renee Harris and Allen Johnston, were seeking to recover several months of unpaid salary and purchases made on behalf of NSLR and Jones, its CEO. They ultimately won a judgment of over $12,000 on May 8, 2008, but according to Harris, Jones has yet to comply with the judgment.
Jones announced the formation of National Street League Records in August 2007 while he was serving his one-year suspension from the NFL for violating the the league's personal conduct policy. Renee Harris, who was NSLR's marketing director, told ESPN The Magazine at the time that Jones was in Atlanta recording the label's debut album, which was due to be released in early 2008, with his new rap group Posterboyz. The first single, "Let it Shine"—which a press release described as an ode to "glimmering stones, big money and flashy cars"—was to be released in August 27th 2007, and a promotional concert tour was to begin that fall, with stops scheduled in Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama.
None of this came to fruition and his two-person staff of Harris and Johnston, who had been serving as Director of Operations, were never paid their salary—a violation of their contracts—nor were they reimbursed for personal monies spent on company goods and services, which Jones had promised to repay.
Now, more than seven months after the judgment was handed down, Harris says she and Johnston have yet to be paid for their services.
"Honestly, it's been a total nightmare that I've tried to forget," Harris says. "He abandoned his label and staff without pay and completely disappeared. But since the judgement there's been some correspondence with his attorney. Hopefully this'll end soon."
Calls to Adam "Pacman" Jones' lawyer were not immediately returned.
So, Kurt Warner led the doormat Cardinals to the NFC Championship game—blah, blah, blah. The far more interesting challenge: Can he whip some fatties into shape on the Jan 27 episode of NBC's Biggest Loser? "I eat chocolate non-stop and I'm slower than my offensive line," says the QB. "I hope I don't get someone fired."
Ex pect more sports flicks at the Sundance Film Festival, which starts this Thursday. Among the films screening amidst the debauchery in Park City, Utah: Big Fan, about a New York parking garage attendant who's attacked by his favorite Giant (no, not Plaxico); Mexico's Rudo y Cursi, which follows two professional soccer rivals—played by real-life pals Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal—who also happen to be brothers; and Thriller in Manila, a documentary about the Ali-Frazier bout.
Garnering the most buzz? That would be Tyson, the highly anticipated documentary on Iron Mike from director James Toback and executive producer Carmelo Anthony (the CEO of Krossover Productions and, you know, the Nugget). For Toback, it was a long-journey from germ to screen, and it began with a chance encounter on the set of an 80's flick. When actor Anthony Michael Hall first introduced Toback to his friend Tyson on the NYC set of Toback's The Pick-Up Artist in '87, the director told the boxer of his 8 days of LSD-induced "madness" in college. Years later, when Tyson was released from prison, he told Toback he could relate. Alas, a friendship was born. Toback would later cast the ex-champ in two of his films. Now, comes Tyson, a doc that details the former champ's rise and fall, using new interviews conducted in Los Angeles that cover topics like Robin Givens, the bite and the rape (yup, he still denies it). "It's an unflinching, unadulterated portrait of a man with a wildly contradictory, fractured personality," says Toback, who got Nas to provide original tunes. "It amazed me how self-aware he was, how honest he was about everything from his days as a fat, bullied kid in New York to his sexual appetite."
Want in on Tyson's "sexual appetite?" Don't sweat it—the flick, which was preemptively snapped up by Sony Pictures Classic, will be released theatrically on April 24th.
Sam Alipour is based in Los Angeles. His Media Blitz column appears in ESPN The Magazine and regularly on ESPN.com's Page 2. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.