As the R. Kelly story continues to unfold, The Daily Beast has obtained authenticated audio recording of Dylan Howard, a top executive at the National Enquirer and senior vice president of their parent company American Media Inc., negotiating with Kelly’s representative, Don Russell, about arranging a payment system where the singer would be compensated for an upcoming tv series. The audio recording reportedly revealed months of discussions and details the sketchy means to which the transaction would work.
“No network is going to buy or pay Mr. Kelly. They simply won’t do that,” said Howard on record. “They are not going to take the public relations hit associated with doing business with him. Obviously, we would be embedded with you so it’s not as if it really is independent, but it has to be sold to the market as independent.” Howard continued on detailing exactly what the agreement would entail, stating, “I license music from you. I license locations from you such as homes, et cetera. And that is how you get profit participation in such a production, because no network is even going to allow a production company’s books to show, on their books, that there is a money trail going to you.”
Russell responded by relaying Kelly’s interest in an agreement, citing increasing legal fees. “We are dealing with an important and embattled artist who everyone counts on his ability to generate revenue,” Russell said. “So I gotta make sure that if we are doing this, that then is considered by all parties that we have to make sure he can pay legal fees, bills, and all that kinda stuff. Because that puts him back into position for the next steps down the road, which is the movie of R. Kelly once he reigns supreme with this.” Russell then said, “I’m sure you guys will wanna have the first crack at that.”
In a written statement to The Daily Beast, Howard claimed the discussions originated from a pitch by Kelly’s team and “went no further than general exploratory discussions between them and myself, and was never advanced internally at American Media.” Kelly’s Chicago-based criminal defense attorney, Steven Greenberg, shared remarks the singer made during a recent visit.
Greenberg told The Daily Beast, “This is literally what he said: ‘I have no f**king idea what you’re talking about. I don’t have any f**king idea. I don’t know anything about it. People are always trying to do stuff—make money, cut a deal, and tell me they got this opportunity.’” The attorney added, “There are always people trying to capitalize on the fact that they know R. Kelly.”
Russell denied the conversations ever happened. “Me and Dylan have never spoken in that capacity in regards to a docuseries or anything with R. Kelly,” he said. “I don’t know Dylan in that capacity. I didn’t come in to negotiate deals,” Russell added, claiming he was merely trying to promote Kelly’s side of the story to the media.
Whatever is going on, hopefully it all comes to an end soon…in the seemingly never-ending story of R. Kelly.