Pricey gala falsely promises appearances by big stars

Pricey gala falsely promises appearances by big stars »Play Video
Ski Johnson is seen in this photo.
SEATTLE -- With each ticket priced at $200, a black tie gala promised big names like Michael Douglas, James Earl Jones and even KOMO's own Kathi Goertzen, all to benefit cancer research.

But the organizer of the event is now accused of scamming ticket buyers.

"Where's Michael Douglas? Where is James Earl Jones?" said promoter Maile Hager.

Ski Johnson, the self-named "bad boy of jazz," is organizing the gala scheduled to be held at the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Seattle on Saturday.

The website for the event, which will reportedly benefit the American Cancer Society, promises big names. But representatives of both actors told KOMO News say they know nothing about the gala, and will not attend.

Johnson claims he talked to Douglas himself.

But when asked whether the actors will be in attendance at the gala, Johnson said, "My testimony is that James Earl Jones, that I wanted them, that I invited them to come to this event."

Promoters, however, say Johnson promised the stars' attendance.

"They've told me several times, 'Yeah, they're coming. Yeah, they told me they're coming,'" said promoter Andy Karuza.

The promoter says he received a text from Johnson's foundation when Goertzen reportedly confirmed for the event. The text read: "Andy, good news. Kathi Goertzen is on board 100 percent."

That text was sent on Feb. 8. And as Goertzen's 61,000 Facebook fans know, she was in the hospital that day, recovering from brain surgery.

"We wanted to do a tribute," said Mary George of Jazz for Life. "The idea all along was to do a tribute to cancer survivors."

But Goertzen does not have cancer, and she knew nothing about the event.

Promotors who spent four weeks plugging the gala pulled the plug on Wednesday.

Brown Paper Tickets stopped selling tickets, and 10 sponsors backed out when it became clear the stars would not align.

"On behalf for Jazz For Life Foundation, I apologize to everyone," said Johnson. "It was out of our control. We hired a - well, not officially hired - we had a promoter."

When asked who that prompter was, Johnson said, "I don't know."

The American Cancer Society was not a partner in this fundraiser, merely the recipient.

The event will go on as planned Saturday night.

It's unclear how many tickets have been sold or how many refunds will be necessary.

Jazz for Life Foundation says it is working out the details.