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Stepping in after the Rev. Jesse Jackson failed to win a compromise, a Manhattan judge has ruled that a trio may bill itself as “formerly of the Three Mo’ Tenors” over the objections of the partnership that invented the name. Justice Herman Cahn last week in Sontag v. Cook, 600102/04, said the singers — Victor Trent Cook, Rodrick E. Dixon and Thomas J. Young, who now perform as Cook, Dixon & Young — must confine the message to type no larger than 60 percent of that used to spell out their own names on the same program, playbill or ad. The three classically trained black singers were featured in concert as the Three Mo’ Tenors in a PBS Great Performances program in August 2001 and had performed as the Three Mo’ Tenors until last year. The concept of televised concerts featuring great tenors originated with the original Three Tenors: opera stars Luciano Pavarotti of Italy and Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras of Spain. The Three Mo’ Partnership hired Cook, Dixon and Young to feature their talents in opera, blues, jazz and spirituals. In early spring 2003 while the tenors were on tour, the partnership stopped paying them, said Robert W. Cinque of Cinque & Cinque, who is representing them. The partnership was placed in receivership, and Justice Cahn appointed Albert Sontag as the receiver. Sontag contracted with a production company, which hired three new black tenors to sing as the Three Mo’ Tenors and sought a preliminary injunction to bar Cook, Dixon & Young from making commercial use of the Three Mo’ Tenors name. Cook, Dixon and Young have filed claims against the receivership seeking some $400,000 to $500,000 in back pay, Cinque said. In an effort to resolve the dispute in a way that “would enable all parties to continue their musical and artistic activities in a creative way,” Cahn said Jackson met with the parties for several hours but no settlement was achieved. Cahn then set down conditions that were to remain in effect until further order of the court. Cook, Dixon and Young may use the legend “formerly of the Three Mo’ Tenors” in materials promoting their performances but in limited print size. They may not hold themselves out to be the current, only or original Three Mo’ Tenors or assert that any other of the partnership’s performers are not the Three Mo’ Tenors, he said. Neither Sontag, the production company he hired nor Cook, Dixon & Young may take any steps to prevent the other party from “peacefully booking and performing its concerts.” If any of his directions are violated, the judge said, sanctions may include the cancellation of performances. “The intention … is that this interim order will enable both parties to carry on their worthwhile and artistic efforts, without hindrance or harassment from the other. Such a result will be to the parties’ great benefit as well as to the benefit of the community which all of them seek to serve,” he concluded. Sontag was represented by Lawrence A. Mandelker of Kantor, Davidoff, Wolfe, Mandelker & Kass and David B. Wolf of Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard.

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