Philly Pops CEO Sues Longtime Conductor Peter Nero for Slander
Peter Nero is scheduled to give his final performance with the Philly Pops on July 3rd at Independence Hall, 35 years after he founded the group, known for bridging classical and popular music. And earlier this month, Allentown’s Morning Call newspaper ran a nice little piece about Nero. Well … everything was nice until about half way through.
Nero’s departure from the Pops is part of a bitter contract and salary dispute that arose during the group’s bankruptcy proceedings, which began in 2011. Nero was making over $500,000 per year, and Pops CEO Frank Giordano wanted him to take a 40-percent pay cut. Naturally, Nero didn’t like that idea, and, as a result, the Pops hired a new maestro. The Wall Street Journal has even taken note of their feud.
Here’s how Nero summed up the situation in the recent Morning Call article:
“They said I was asking for too much money. A bunch of crooks dressed in $3,000 suits came in who didn’t know a thing about the music business. They were talking to marketing people who would bring in stick-wavers who would get anything from a third to a quarter of what I got. They didn’t care if they got a conductor who played an instrument or not. What they didn’t realize is that a large part of the Pop’s attraction was my piano playing — it’s always been a balancing act between playing and conducting.”
Though Giordano was not named in the article, he has filed a federal defamation suit against Nero, asking for over $1 million in damages.
Giordano, who is also the president of Atlantic Trailer Leasing Corp. and was, until recently, president of the Union League, alleges in the suit that Nero was “obviously referring” to him when he used the word “crook.”
Reads the suit:
The quote about “crooks dressed in $3,000 suits … who didn’t know a thing about the music business” … was an intentional and obvious statement referring to Giordano, who negotiated Nero’s 2012 contract … Although Nero cleverly avoided mentioning Giordano by name, everyone having knowledge of the widely publicized events leading to the separation between Nero and the “Philly Pops” would know that Nero was attacking the honesty, integrity and ability of Giordano.
The suit also maintains that Nero signed a non-disparagement provision as part of a settlement agreement with the Pops and that Nero is in violation of that agreement as a result of the Morning Call story.
Giordano and his attorney declined to comment for this story or to provide a copy of that settlement agreement. Nero did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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