March 19, 2001 18:33

RIMES AND PUNISHMENT

A judge turns down her request to get out of a contract signed on her behalf by her father when she was 12...

RIMES AND PUNISHMENT
LEANN RIMES began shaking and sobbing and turned to her father WILBUR telling him, "I hate you" after hearing a request to let her out of a contract signed by her father when she was just 12 was turned down by a judge on Friday (March 16).

The young singer's lawyers had filed papers in Davidson County Court, near Nashville, asking the court to set aside the contract signed on her behalf in 1995. Rimes, still on good terms with her label Curb Recordings, doesn't want to leave the label, simply sign a new long-term recording contract.

She issued a statement last month apologising for her latest album, saying it was released by Curb without her "input".

Curb Records' lawyer Jay Bowen said Rimes had "performed about one-half of her obligation under that contract. She now apparently believes that if she can get out of this contract, she is in a better bargaining position than she was five and a half years ago.''

Bowen added that the contract had provided Rimes with $21 million in royalties and that she should be bound to honour her obligations under it.

Rimes' own lawyer Bob Boston responded that Curb Records had made over $200 million from Rimes' "minority-status work".

According to Nashville newspaper The Tennessean, he cited testimony from a Texas court hearing in 1995, in which a court-appointed guardian said the contract was intended to bind Rimes only until she turned 18.

''During the time that she was a minor, she never changed her mind,'' Boston said. But, he went on, Rimes ''is here to take control of her work at the first chance she can do it".

Wilbur Rimes said late on Friday that he was ''very hurt, but confused'' by his daughter's remark to him in court ''because I had nothing to do with the proceeding". He said he was in court only as ''an observer".

However, he added: ''I'm very pleased with the judge's decision because I feel very strongly that this contract is a very good contract and she should be made to honour her word, rather than to be able to wriggle out of it simply because she has the star power to force them into a different position.''

The singer is set to appeal the decision to a higher court.

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