The Producer’s Perspective “Best of 2008” Awards: Who Is The Producer of the Year

“Best Of” lists at this time of year are like Liza during Act II of Liza At The Palace:  all over the place but definitely worth checking out.

As I poured through this year’s collection of the best/worst lists from every paper, mag and e-zine, I realized that there was a group of folks left out of the annual accolades . . . Producers!

Well, no longer, my TPP readers!

Introducing the 1st Annual Producer’s Perspective “Best Of” Awards, including The Producer Of The Year Award.

Here’s how it works:  there are no set categories except for the big one (next year, I’ll let you propose categories).

Now, without further adieu, here are the winners!

BEST MARKETING CAMPAIGN . . . DISNEY

Maybe it’s unfair to put a company like Disney, which has more leverage and brand-awareness than many small countries, up against all the rest of us trying to launch new product.  But you have to give the mouse credit for its menage-a-trois-like DisneyOnBroadway campaign, which has made their three shows as much of an attraction as The Magic Kingdom in Orlando.  In ’08, they also managed to turn the critically-ravaged Little Mermaid into a oft’ member of the million-dollar club.

BEST VIRAL MARKETING CAMPAIGN . . . TIE:  TITLE OF SHOW and XANADU

TOS kept their ball in the air for many a month before they arrived on Broadway with their Title of Show Show (which is continuing on even now).  And the birth of Cubby Bernstein for Xanadu was a terrific Hail Mary toss at the Tony.  Both were great examples of viral campaigns:  funny, celebrity-filled, cheap to create . . . and difficult to convert, as Xanadu lost the Tony and TOS closed prematurely.  A for effort.

BEST PENETRATION INTO POP CULTURE . . . LEGALLY BLONDE

In ’08, Blonde parlayed their ’07 MTV appearance into a reality show, cleansing our reality-show casting palettes after the disappointing You’re The One That I Want.  While Legally Blonde and Bailey Hanks were expelled from the boards a bit early, the tour is doing pretty well and I’d bet that the millions of eyeballs the reality show got helped build a brand-foundation in middle America.  And hey, no matter what you think about reality show casting, when young people are telling millions that their lifelong dream is to be on Broadway, it’s good for all of us.

BEST NEW ECONOMIC MODEL . . . WHITE CHRISTMAS

The limited run play has been a successful model for years.  But the limited run musical?  It’s a relatively new one, and with grosses of 1.4 and 1.5 million over the past couple weeks, White Xmas could have finally cracked the “nut”.

BEST STAR CASTING COUP . . . WHOOPI GOLDBERG IN XANADU

This was a competitive category with celebs like a wand-waving Daniel Radcliffe and Katie Cruise debuting on The Great White Way.  But come on, how many people ever thought Whoopi Goldberg would replace in a musical that was struggling to stay afloat?  The Producers of one of the best reviewed shows up for a Tony in ’08 did everything they could to keep their show open, and their work in getting Whoopi on board not only kept the show going, but it got the grosses up.

BEST AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT AWARD . . . 13

Have to give it to my own show on this one, thanks to the ultra-active 7,000+ members of 13fans.com we captured in such a short run.  That’s a lot of youngsters falling in love with a musical and wanting to chat about it.  And there’s no doubt they’ll be excited to see another one.  When I was a kid, my 5th grade class went to see Julius Caesar at a local Shakespeare company.  I fell asleep.  I’m surprised I ever wanted to see another piece of theater after that.  You want to develop audiences for the 22nd century?  Give ’em Mamma Mia before you give them Macbeth.  There’s always time for the medicine after the spoonful of sugar has gone down (damn that Disney leverage).

BEST USE OF NON-PROFIT MONEY . . . SOUTH PACIFIC

Non-profits should deliver what can’t be done commercially.  They should be homes for the artists whose vision and spirit can’t fit in the small economic box of Broadway.  There was no greater example of that in ’08 than the Atlantic Ocean-sized production of South Pacific.

BEST WE’RE STILL KICKING AWARD . . . 39 STEPS

39 Steps is tenaciously stepping into their 3rd Broadway house.  It ain’t easy or inexpensive to pick up a Broadway show and move it down the block, so they get kudos for grinding it out.

BEST USE OF AN AMERICAN IDOL . . . NO WINNER

Enough said.

And now the big one . . .

THE PRODUCER OF THE YEAR IS . .  . . .

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s entry!

In the meantime, I feel guilty that I didn’t collect your nominations this year, so give me your comments on what you think is the “BEST OF 2008”.  It can be anything:  Best Website, Best Logo for a Musical, Best BS Excuse By An Actor For Leaving A David Mamet Revival . . . you know, anything.

Comments
  • Tamra says:

    i think a fun category should be Best Show Mishap (like a line flub, missed enterance, or something going wrong in general)

  • Best blog by a producer: Ken Davenport. Hands down.

  • David Rosenberg says:

    Best Logo/Marquee- White Christmas
    Worst Logo/Marquee- Slava’s Snowshow
    Two Christmas-themed shows that had a chance to capitalize on the seasonal appeal of their shows. One delivered a colorful and vibrant marquee that made clear it was a holiday attraction. The other delivered what appeared to be straight text.
    Best Union of Art and Commerce- Equus
    A worthy play with a bankable (or so they thought) star that brought people who had never even heard of Peter Shaffer in to see a classic play they wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

  • L.A. says:

    I think Best Logo should be a category, alongside Best BS excuse by an “Actor” for leaving a David Mamet Revival. But Wait!!! That would mean he would have to give a half decent excuse.

  • And what would yours be?

  • tamra says:

    Sadly i can’t think of a best one for 2008 that i witnessed personally…
    My favorite ever is from 2006 when the actress playing Mimi (karmine Alers) missed her cue to come out at the end of Rent, and Maggie Benjamin (Maureen) changed her line to Mimi, she’s in the park… and then Mimi came running out on stage and jumped into Maureen and Joanne’s arms

  • Tamra says:

    Leave it to flying cork to reins me….best 2008 flub
    In the heights, Shaun on ad Usnavi… He accidentally popped the champagne and changed the lyric to say he had as he and janet tried to not laugh… Good times!

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