Timberlake fiasco at Indiana Live!

March 15, 2009
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3/17 update: Barbara Coles of Coles Marketing Communications announced this afternoon that she is terminating her company's relationship with Indiana Live! Casino. For more details, click here.

Update: For more on the story, click here.

Replying to a request for information on what happened to the announced participation of Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel in the ribbon cutting for Indiana Live! racino on Friday, Sherry Amos, Marketing Executive with The Cordish Company stated:

“Justin Timberlake was invited by The Cordish Company to attend the VIP party and grand opening of the Indiana Live! Casino on Friday, March 13. An RSVP was received for Mr. Timberlake that he and his guest would attend the festivities. We are unsure as to why there was a change in his plans to attend, but we are hopeful that Mr. Timberlake will still be able to see and enjoy our beautiful entertainment facility in Shelbyville, Indiana, at some time in the near future.”

This still leaves many questions yet to be answered, including:

--If such a well-known celeb was to be part of the opening ceremony, wouldn't someone have known his travel plans and communicated well in advance that he wouldn't be attending? It's not like he was coming in from Greenwood.

--If, in fact, Timberlake was actually planning to attend the ribbon-cutting, when did Indiana Live!, Cordish, and Coles Marketing Communications (the company that issued the original release) find out he would not be there?

--And if that was the case, shouldn't the attending media have had our questions answered on site? More importantly, what of the fans who came out in hopes of seeing Timberlake? They weren't just fans who heard a rumor. They were people responding to news reports sparked by Coles' initial press release, which I've excerpted below:

To cut a ceremonial ribbon and welcome thousands from throughout the region to the new, $200 million Indiana Live! Casino, executives with Indiana Live! Casino, Indiana Downs and management company The Cordish Company will be joined by:

Pop singer-songwriter Justin Timberlake
Actress / model Jessica Biel
Indiana Gaming Commission executive director Bernie Yeltzen
International Speedway Corp.’s Lesa France Kennedy
Shelbyville Mayor Scott Ferguson

More questions--and, I hope, answers--to come.

In the meantime, your thoughts?
  • Pretty sleezy and cheesy, like the Obama stunt.

    Despite the investment and the PR, these creeps act like they're in it for the short term. Sounds like they've overselling an inferior product. They pulled a fast one on local media, viewers, and readers. Don't expect the press or the public to fall for it again. What creeeeeps!

    Out of principle (even though I'm not much of a casino-goer) I'll make sure NOT to visit their establishment.

    Guess I'll have to find another reason to visit Shelbyville. Anyone in their right mind have one?
  • Dood. This is Shelbytucky. Overpromise, underdeliver(ance).
  • What a joke! After sitting in traffic for 3 hours! Missing our VIP access , waiting in line for the bathroom (i'll circle back to this one), then waiting in line for a beer, then waiting to see JT. Spent a good 6 hours I will never get back waiting in lines...Not only was the whole Justin Timberlake a sham, the signs for the bathrooms were held up by painters tape, easily a 1/4 of the slot machines were out of service the line to the cafeteria area was a mile long-good thing I am not diabetic.

    We heard that the Night club was VIP until 10pm, so we went to use what we could of our VIP passes and they wouldn't let us in-wrong VIP party... as we walked away, the girl reluctantly said ok and gave us some wrist bands. We got in! Granted the apps were fabulous and we squeezed one free beer out of it, until they opened it up to the public at 9pm! What is up with that?! From there the service at the bar when drastically downhill-after standing in the same place at the bar for hours, the bartender ignored me and everyone else, like we hadn't tipped him at all. I was also served a frozen beer, then 15 minutes later when I could get his attention again after I had to practially climb over the bar, I was given a nice warm beer.

    Now maybe my expections of a new establishment are too high, but really, who planned this grand opening, really?

    The best part of the whole night was the drunk girl at the VIP party (prior to public entry) when she started stripper dancing on top of the seating area right before she lost her balance-no one saw that coming! and fell backwards into the group of people she was not with. Then coming back at all those lauging by yanking her dress up and showing her thong toting butt to everyone! It was absolutely hilarious. She didn't stop there either,she got back up there, but after much persuasion just sat rather than stand. I won't go into what happened next, but really?

    I think I will let the rest of Indiana break in Live! before I go back anytime soon...Really.
  • One thing comes to mind in light of today's financial crisis - who cares? Really.
  • We've been hoodwinked!

    Conspiracy theory: In the press release it mentions Jessica Biel by name, but in the PR response to Lou, it only mentions he and his guest.

    ...whereas... just 24 hours before their appearance... it seems they were having dessert at Al Gelato in Beverly Hills.

  • HarveyF,
    I care if a company blatently lied to the media and, through us, to our readers.
  • I understand your point.

    But, every day politicians lie to the mainstream press to promote their political agendas and its reported. The politicians aren't held accountable for their lies. So, for me, its hard get to care much about the press inquiring about a pop culture celebrity's whereabouts according to a casino's management. But that's just me.
  • I'm with Harvey. In general - who cares? Specifically - why do we care about a J.T. appearance in a Shelbyville casino on an Indy arts blog?
  • C-dub
    1. It's an Arts and Entertainment blog. It's right there in the name.
    2. I often address A&E issue that extend beyond our borders. If I can cover Bloomington, why not Shelbyville?
    3. Imagine if IMOCA released a statement insisting that Julian Schnabel would be at an opening or if the IRT said Kevin Kline would be at reception and readers enthusiastically went with that assumption only to find that not only weren't they there, these high-profile folks never planned on attending and the whole thing might have been made up simply to get gullible folks into the building. Why would I not cover that?
  • Tell 'em Lou!
  • Fair enough Lou - I was just caught a little off guard catching the latest J.T. gossip here! And I appreciate it when you cover stuff outside of Indy - didn't mean to imply otherwise.
  • Nothing like starting off with a BIG LIE, the Bait and Switch, the OverPromise, UnderDeliver. Can we believe anything this company says?

    Did the White House ask them to pull the ads? then they said they did, but did they actually stop them? I dont think they did.

    Was JT really coming? Unless he's dropping in by helicopter, you probably know full well a couple hours in advance that your celeb DIDNT arrive at the airport! - or get on the plane in LA hours before.

    Reminds me of my frat buddies who always swore there'd be hot chicks at the party...because they talked to someone's sister who had friends who said they might come by.
  • I'm sure an organization that would lie like this doesn't have rigged slot machines...right? Yeah, think I'll pass on pumping any money into a crooked little enterprise like this.
  • Hey lou:

    How much of our tax dollars go to this place?
  • As a publicist myself, I'm pretty disgusted that Coles PR/Marketing would do this. Either they really didn't know JT and Jessica Biel were coming (and that shows gross ignorance on their part professionally), or they new and just wanted to be known as the PR agency of record for this new casino.

    If Indiana Live! had approached me to write the release, I would have asked for timelines, JT abd JB's contacts (managers, their personal publicists, etc.), security info, logistical information such as transportation, etc. Is Coles really that amateurish, or were they in on it?

    Either way -- shameful.
  • The fact that no one from the casino or the PR firm is agressively speaking out on this tell me that someone is likely guilty of withholding the info that the special guests would not be there. If they had cancelled at the last minute - or were no shows - I'd be making for darn sure everyone knew it wasn't my fault. I suspect they knew well in advance of the no-show, but were already in too deep to cancel and didn't want to create a scene - or curtail the opening crowds. If that's the case - it's disgraceful. If it was truly out of their hands, then they should be communicating that. Bad PR all around.
  • New Indiana Live Casino tagline: Win, Place, No Show.

    What a joke.

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