Podcast Episode 171 – Broadway AND Hollywood Super Producer, Paula Wagner

It’s hard enough to make it as a Producer on one coast, but both?

That kind of success is reserved for a very select group of moguls, and this week I got to sit down with one of them.

Paula Wagner has worn a lot of hats in the business on her way up the ladder, from Broadway actress to Powerhouse Agent to running a movie studio to producing movies like Mission Impossible . . . and yep, producing big Broadway shows like this season’s hit, Pretty Woman.

Could there be a better person to talk to about movies to musicals and vice-versa?

Paula and I talked about that, of course, as well as . . .

  • The skills she learned as an agent that help her be a better Producer.
  • What Hollywood does well that we could learn from and what Hollywood can learn from us!
  • Eye-poppin’ idea that could save the movie industry (and it’s so simple).
  • Why Pretty Woman was made to be a musical and why it’s doing what she thought it would (gross over $1mm a week!).
  • Coming up in the entertainment industry as a female Producer and how that has changed.  Or not.

Enjoy the Podcast and don’t forget to subscribe!

Click here for my podcast with Paula!

Listen to it on iTunes here. (And if you like the podcast, give it a great review while you’re there!)

Download it here.

Podcast Episode 170 – Literary Agent, Max Grossman

Agents get a bad rap.  They’re like lawyers and IRS agents.

But they’re nothing like those folks.

I can’t imagine that an IRS agent gets into this business because he or she loves taxes.

But agents, especially those in the theater, are all here for the same reason you and I are here . . . they love the theater.

Max Grossman, an agent for writers and designers at the powerful but still boutique Abrams Artists Agency, is a perfect example.  He grew up going to the theater, flirted with sports, and came back to the good side of the force.

We haven’t had many agents on this podcast (just this one so far – who happens to represent me!), partly because some of the agents I asked couldn’t get permission from their higher-ups (which says a lot, don’t you think?).

But when I asked Max, he was happy to sit down and talk about what an agent does as well as . . .

  • How he finds new writers.
  • That awkward but important moment when he has to tell a client he doesn’t love something the client wrote.
  • The art of negotiating as an agent.
  • Why some theater writers succeed in transitioning to film & TV and others don’t… and a tip or two for you if this is something YOU want to do.
  • What he’d tell all Broadway Producers if he had them in a room at once.

Enjoy this convo with Max and let it remind you that even when we’re on “different sides” in this business, we’re still on the same team.

Click here for my podcast with Max!

Listen to it on iTunes here. (And if you like the podcast, give it a great review while you’re there!)

Download it here.

Searching for a CFO aka Cool Financial Operative

After 12 years, the guy in charge of the spreadsheets and projections and all the #s at Davenport Theatrical has left us for greener pastures . . . literally. He moved to Portland.

So I’m looking for a new finance and numbers guru who wants to join a company whose motto is “we do @#$% other people don’t.”

We don’t produce shows for the $, but we know that we need $ to produce shows. That’s where you come in.

You’re an ideal candidate for this position if you can teach me a thing or two about Excel (and I know a lot), are a QuickBooks aficionado, understand accounting (and can do some), can create projections, forecasts, and get excited when you do.

But beyond all the #s stuff, you gotta love hacking corporate health insurance so we can get the best rates and deals for our employees, figuring out the best credit cards to have so we can go to Hawaii on our company retreat next year, negotiating the @#$% out of copier deals, and so on and so forth.

You also have to be someone who says, “Let’s go for it,” with a smile when I have one of my crazy ideas, like making a board game or starting an app. You also have to tell me why I shouldn’t go for it because it doesn’t make sense and takes too much time.

You gotta work hard and long, but we promise fun in the process. After all, we’re in the entertainment business . . . and if we can’t have fun making it, how do we expect an audience to have fun consuming it.

What else . . . let’s see . . .

An MBA would be great, but not required . . . you just have to have enough skills to teach us all a thing or two about business.

You don’t have to love theater, or even come from this world (I like folks who bring outside experience to our niche industry), but it might help if you’re a Broadway FanBoy or Girl because we’re never going to pay you what working for a widget company would pay. But we’ll make up for it in helping to make great shows and a lot of audience members happy.

The truth is . . .  you can decide your own salary . . . based on what you can help us save and/or make. So that’s really in your hands.

You also don’t have to be local, although it’d be preferred. But applications accepted from all over.

If you think you have the knowledge, experience, business acumen, hustle and hunger to help us achieve the heights that we want to achieve (and those are high), send an email to kendavenport@davenporttheatrical.com.



Director of Finance – Signature Theatre Company

WHO: Signature Theatre Company

POSITION: Director of Finance

DESCRIPTION: Signature Theatre, one of New York’s leading off-Broadway theatres, is seeking a Director of Finance to oversee Signature’s financial management and human resources. Founded in 1991, the Company exists to honor and celebrate the playwright, producing seven to nine productions annually. In 2005 Signature began its groundbreaking Signature Ticket Initiative, providing subsidized, affordable tickets to all of its productions. Signature is a $12M+ institution and operates in the recently opened the Pershing Square Signature Center, the Frank Gehry-designed 75,000 square foot Center featuring three theatres, two rehearsal studios, a central, public lobby with a café and bookstore, as well as administrative offices.

Reporting to the Executive Director, the Director of Finance guides Signature’s financial policy and direction while also being an active partner with the senior leadership team in planning the organization’s future strategy and implementing ongoing operations. She or he will lead all financial administration, business planning, budgeting, and human resource administration. The Director of Finance collaborates closely with peers on the senior leadership team, including the General Manager, Associate Artistic Director, and Directors of Development, Marketing, and Production, as well as the Board Treasurer, and Finance, Investment, and Audit Committees. The Director of Finance directly supervises the Business Manager, Business Associate, and Receptionist.

• Guide financial decisions by establishing, monitoring, and enforcing internal controls, and operational policies and procedures; make recommendations for increased efficiency and effectiveness
• Coordinate and direct daily and periodic accounting operations and processes, assuring that financial records and systems are maintained in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.
• Participate in the strategic planning process as an integral member of the senior leadership team through development and use of predictive models and activity-based financial analyses
• Perform cash flow analysis and planning to ensure availability of funds as needed for the operating entity and special-purpose LLC
• Maximize return and limit risk on cash by managing bank balances, and overseeing investments managed by external investment manager, in conjunction with Board Investment Committee
• Monitor and confirm financial condition by conducting internal audits
• Lead communication with external auditors to prepare annual audited financial statements and 990 returns
• Prepare accurate interim financial statements and special reports for both internal and external use, through collection, analysis, and consolidation of financial data
• Prepare annual operating and capital budgets and periodic re-forecasts.
• Achieve budget objectives by scheduling expenditures, analyzing variances, and initiating corrective actions
• Liaise with the Finance Committee and participate in Committee and Board meetings
• Direct human resources functions, including recruitment, hiring, termination, and development and management of employment policies
• Work closely with hiring managers to ensure consistent application of human resource policies and best practices
• Ensure compliance with federal, state, and local requirements, through research and awareness of existing, new, or anticipated legislation, and liaise with legal counsel to advise management on needed actions or potential impacts

Candidates should hold a Bachelor’s degree or above in accounting and/or business administration, or possess equivalent business experience, and have five-plus (5+) years’ experience with a major non-profit, operating on an annual budget of at least eight million ($8M).

The ideal Director of Finance candidate will have skill in managing processes and analyzing information, developing standards and policies, non-profit accounting, and auditing experience. Preference will be given to candidates with a Certified Public Accountant designation and/or an MBA, and those with familiarity with LLC structures and transactions. Experience with QuickBooks, Financial Edge, or other financial software, is required. Familiarity with Tessitura is a plus.

To Apply: This is a full-time position starting immediately. Salary commensurate with experience. Benefits include Health, Dental, Vision, FSA and 401k plan. Email cover letter and resume with references to careers@signaturetheatre.org. Please put ‘Director of Finance’ in the subject line. E.O.E. No phone calls please. For more information on Signature, please visit www.signaturetheatre.org.

Customer Relations Associate – Jazz at Lincoln Center

WHO: Jazz at Lincoln Center

POSITION: Customer Relations Associate

DESCRIPTION: The Customer Relations Associate supports Jazz at Lincoln Center’s (JALC’s) customer base by interfacing with subscribers, patrons, and ticket holders in order to handle relevant customer service issues. He/she also coordinates with internal JALC departments and provides administrative and clerical support to the Manager, Subscriptions and Ticketing.

•Interface and handle all customer service related issues related to JALC and licensee events by answering inquiries in-person, via multiple phone lines, e-mails, and direct mail.
•Fulfill house seat orders and subscriber ticket requests or exchanges.
•Interface with the JALC Box Office as related to ticket purchases, refunds, and customer services.
•Update and maintain Tessitura ticketing database as well as the department’s general mailing lists.
•Research the account history of customers for targeted mailings.
•Assist with the annual subscription campaign fulfillment.
•Create and send e-communications to subscribers on a daily basis.
•Assist with customer inquiries at JALC concerts and events, as needed.
•On-site staffing of the subscriber services table during concerts as needed.
•Troubleshoot customer service matters and provide responses for the general public.
•Manage and update outgoing phone messages.
•Complete other relevant duties as needed.

•Minimum of two years of professional work experience, preferably in a ticketing and/or customer service role.
•Minimum of an Associate’s degree in business or a related field or equivalent relevant experience.
•Previous experience with computerized ticketing software program(s).
•Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite along with basic knowledge of Tessitura.
•Ability to multi-task and work under pressure in a strict deadline-oriented environment.
•Superior written and verbal communication skills.
•Strong time management and organizational skills along with ability to work independently.
•Exceptional customer service and interpersonal skills.
•Excellent attention to detail and strong ability to take initiative and work in a collaborative and productive environment.
•Ability to consistently maintain a professional demeanor and customer-oriented attitude.
•Willingness and availability to work some evenings or weekends as needed to support Jazz at Lincoln Center events.
•Knowledge of and interest in jazz music, with an understanding and appreciation of JALC’s mission and values.

Work Hours
Full time (Mon-Fri) plus evenings and weekends as required

Commensurate with experience

To Apply: Please send cover letter and resume to hr8@jalc.org

Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

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