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Announcer Ted Williams skips Baltimore Fashion Week over contract disputes

Baltimore Fashion Week may be under way, but the showcase of models and designers is missing its star announcer.

Due to contract disputes, Ted Williams, the homeless Ohio man with the golden baritone who became an overnight sensation earlier this year, won't be manning the microphone this weekend, organizers said Friday.

Fashion Week founder Sharan Nixon said she canceled Williams' contract because he made last-minute requests which soured the deal — accusations Williams' camp denies.

Williams signed a contract in March to announce the designers during the four-day event, which runs through Sunday. He was also scheduled to do radio spots and attend promotional events.

The arrangement fell apart earlier this month when Williams asked if Baltimore Fashion Week could also pay for hotel accommodations for his girlfriend, Nixon said.

"According to the contract, I was suppose to provide accommodations for him, his manager and bodyguard," Nixon said. "Then they started demanding other requests that were not in the original contract."

Alfred Battle, Williams' agent, said budget cuts were responsible for the severed contract.

"That was on the producer, Sharan Nixon," he said. "She called and said that she had to do some cut backs, and the budget she had for him had to be cut. We were really disappointed about that."

Battle said adding Williams' girlfriend to the mix might have also played a role.

"I told her that she would have to come," Battle said. "The two met each other in rehab. But her presence wouldn't have been a deal breaker for her. We would have put them in a room together, I don't want to contradict what she had to say. I don't want this to come off as a controversy. But this was due to budget cuts. It was due to her budget."

Williams' absence is the latest setback for Baltimore Fashion Week. Eight days before the annual event was set to begin, Nixon announced that she did not have a venue to host her event. An initial agreement with H&S Properties Development Corp., the group responsible for developing the area, fell through leaving her without a location. Nixon later found the Scottish Rite Masonic Center north of the Hopkins Homewood campus.

Williams achieved instant celebrity in January after the Columbus Dispatch posted on its website a video interview of him where he demonstrated his voice by doing a mock radio announcement. The video hit YouTube and went viral — making him a household name. He has recorded voice-overs for various national brands and even been offered a job announcing at games for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Nixon said that different personalities from local radio stations will be filling in for Williams, including Belinda Merritt from Magic 95.9, Tim Watts from Magic 95.9. and Mikel from Magic 95.9.

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

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