NAMES IN THE NEWS : Aretha Faces $230,000 Payout

From Times Wire Services

Singer Aretha Franklin should pay more than $230,000 to a producer for breaking her promise to appear in the failed 1984 musical, "Sing Mahalia Sing," a magistrate has recommended.

At the time, Franklin said she did not attend rehearsals in New York because of her fear of flying. The producer, Ashton Springer, sued, and a federal judge ruled last year that she must pay back his losses.

The recommendation on damages was made Monday by U.S. Magistrate Nina Gershon. Both parties can challenge the finding before Judge Whitman Knapp makes a final determination.

Franklin was to star in the production, which was based on the life of gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. Springer charged that the show had been scheduled to open in Cleveland in July, 1984, but never got off the ground because Franklin failed to appear at rehearsals.

A different production of the story, which starred Jennifer Holliday, toured successfully in 1985.

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