The Seven Network had secured Spice Girl Melanie Brown as a judge for this year’s series of the The X-Factor but was told she could not come to Australia because of issues with her children’s fathers, a Sydney court has heard.
Seven’s director of production Brad Lyons told the Supreme Court today that the network “really wanted” Mel B as a judge for the third year running on the successful talent show.
Seven has taken Mel B to court claiming she has an exclusive agreement with them in Australia after it was announced she would be moving to the Nine Network to become a judge on Australia’s Got Talent.
Justice David Hammerschlag has granted an injunction preventing Mel B from appearing on any Australian TV network other than Seven until January 31 next year, pending the outcome of the case.
Mr Lyons told the court he agreed with Mel B’s husband and manager, Stephen Belafonte, that Mel B would not take part in the network’s Dancing With The Stars but would do the X-Factor for an “increased amount” of money.
“I know Mel wasn’t happy on that show,” Mr Lyons said of Dancing With The Stars. But he said she was a “very good judge” on The X-Factor.
”… She was a judge in 2011, 2012 and secured for 2013,” Mr Lyons said. “She was a very good judge. That’s why we exercised the option to have her return. She is outspoken and a big international star.”
However, in a phone call in January this year, Mr Belafonte told Mr Lyons they were having visa problems with the other fathers of Mel B’s children, the court heard.
Brown is mother to Phoenix, from her first marriage to dancer Jimmy Gulzar, and four-year-old Angel from her relationship with ex-boyfriend Eddie Murphy.peMr Belafonte and Mel B have another daughter, Madison, together.
Mr Lyons said Mr Belafonte told him the two other fathers were not happy with Mel B residing in Australia for such a long period.
“(Mr Belafonte said) we’re fighting custody battles in LA and London. It’s looking increasingly likely Mel will have to live and work in LA.”
In a phone call in February when confirming Mel B had to live and work in LA, Mr Belafonte told Mr Lyons: “There’s no way the kids or their fathers are going to grant forms to get visas so Mel can’t come and work on the X-Factor.”
Mr Lyons said he was “pretty upset” at this news, but that he told Mr Belafonte, “We’re not going to tear her away from her kids”.
When Mr Belafonte confirmed to him in February this year that Mel B had to stay in LA, Mr Lyons said he told him, “Maybe … we can look at a way we can factor her into the X-Factor”.