Advice from an Expert: Vol. XII. My own (M)ad man speaks again!
Since you loved it so much, I thought I’d give you some more. This guy is like a treasure chest of theatrical lore. Here are a few more comments from him about the infamous opening night routine at the agency:
On opening nights, producers, press agents, backers,
general managers, actors, etc would come up to our office on the 8th floor of
the Sardi’s Building to wait for the reviews to be called in by our
“friends” who worked in the press rooms of the newspapers. The phone calls were put on speaker phones so
all could hear – good, bad, or indifferent – before they were sent to the
composing rooms to be set in type. This
practice may still exist at the current ad agencies.
On occasion there was more drama and excitement those
nights than on the stage the previous few hours. One night the author of a play which was very
harshly reviewed became so distraught after hearing one devastating review
after another that she tried to throw herself out of a window. She had to be physically constrained.
Another time the star of a play that had just opened
became inebriated and chased one of our young account people threatening to
beat him up. The show’s press agent (who
had been a boxer in his youth) actually knocked the actor out to stop him. Just one punch.
I don’t think it appropriate to name the people involved
in an email.
I love the way that new media has exploded, but if there was ever an argument to restore the power of print and blow up the internet, it would be to experience one of those late night meetings at an agency before the papers came in.
Oh, my guy also ended that story with this:
Blaine Thompson was a very interesting place to work. And there are
lots of stories. Maybe a book?
Uh, yes. Absolutely. You guys would read it, wouldn’t you?
Aren’t you dying to know who the puncher was?