The real stars get stepped on.

I stepped on Big Bird today. And Thomas Edison. And even Pat Sajak (I enjoyed that one).

Yep, while in LA I took a walk down Hollywood Boulevard on the wondrous Walk of Fame. It’s quite a big deal, you know. They have a big to-do when you get your star. And then people take pictures of it (even if they don’t know who you are). And it gets a wikipedia entry.

And it’s brilliant marketing.

Why don’t we have we have a walk of fame? Anyone out there reading that controls that bit of real estate known as Shubert Alley? Or what about down our namesake street itself?

Seems like the perfect place to put down some permanent markers for our biggest stars, no? (We actually have a theater hall of fame, but it’s at the Gershwin Theater, so only the Wicked audiences get to gaze on the names of the inductees).

I know what you’re saying . . . that most people don’t know our stars like they know Hollywood stars, so it wouldn’t be as exciting since we don’t have an “Elvis”.

But that’s my point. By creating a public and permanent honor we are saying to the world, “Hey, these people are significant, so you should pay attention . . . and take pictures”.

You don’t think that people would? Then try this:

Go out into the streets. Stop on the sidewalk and look up . . . at nothing. Soon enough, someone will walk up next to you, stop, and stare straight up in the air wondering what the heck you’re looking at.

You can’t tell your audience to pay attention. You have to do things that demonstrate that your art form deserves attention.

Do that, and your audiences will pay attention . . . and full price.

I was a Cub scout today.

And here’s my merit badge to prove it.

Cubby_2

There are two kinds of stars.

One that sells tickets and one that doesn’t.

And believe it or not, the one that doesn’t sell tickets isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Have you ever wondered why a show cast a certain celebrity?  Have you ever said to yourself, “Why on earth would (insert Producer’s name here) cast someone from an 80s TV series when they have no talent?”

Here’s are the two types of stars in our universe:

  1. There’s the type of star who sells a ticket regardless of the show, i.e. Madonna in Meet Me In St. Louis, or Jim Carrey in Barnum (my casting dream).  Obviously the costs associated with this type of star are high, because guess what?  If you know the star is going to sell tickets regardless of the show, then the star’s agent knows it too.
  2. The second type of star is the one that may not sell tickets right away, but one that gets press, and therefore gets the show editorial content which they may not have otherwise received, i.e. Jason Priestly in Falsettos or a Survivor finalist in The Crucible (my casting nightmare).  This type of star is often used in “stunt casting” to help get a show back in the papers.  They are also intended to be the straw that breaks the customer’s back when the customer is deciding whether or not to make a purchase.  They add value to the show because of their name recognition so the customer can run back to Wichita and say they saw a show with “That guy from that show with the zip code.  You know, the old version of the OC.”  These stars are much more cost effective, since they are not in as high of a demand, and because they usually are looking to use Broadway as a booster rocket for their career.

When you see celebrities in shows, try and determine whether or not they are Star #1 or Star #2.

And when you’re doing a show, try to not use one at all.

More Breaking News About Elaine’s Hair!

My apologies to one of my faithful readers who emailed me about my post congratulating Theater Talk for standing up to Elaine Stritch’s demand for payment of her hair expenses.

It turns out that Theater Talk isn’t the only one who refused to pay for Elaine’s hair.

Here’s the scoop:

In 2002, Elaine appeared at  The Drama League Awards.  She requested payment of her hair bill in advance.  They refused.

So, WDED?  (What did Elaine do?)

She protested the “frugality” of the show by showing up in curlers!  

Pictures below provided by my anonymous tipster:

 

Stritch4Stritch_6Stritch_in_curlers_dla_2002

Stritch5_2

Booya! Elaine Got Called Out!

 

Someone finally stood up to Elaine Stritch and her expense antics.  Read about it in The Post here. I laughed out loud when I read this today, because it brought back a lot of memories.

As the former Associate Company Manager for the Broadway production of Livent’s Show Boat, I can tell you that a lot of these exact same bills crossed my desk every week.  If Elaine went outside of the hotel room where she lived, we got charged for hair, limo, massages, the works.

My favorite Elaine memory was the day I got a letter from her with a receipt for close to $200 from Orso, at least six months after she left the show.  There was a note attached.  “Dear Steve,” (she called me Steve, don’t ask me why), “Garth  and I were supposed to have dinner this week, but he canceled his trip.  So… he told me to have dinner on him.  Here’s the bill.”

The real funny part?  We were instructed to pay it.  Maybe that’s one of the reasons the company that produced some of the  grandest productions of its time went bankrupt. You gotta love Elaine.  Talented and ballsy.

Maybe she should give up acting and produce, with mad skills like that.  I’d like to see what she would do if someone submitted hair bills to her.

And good for Michael Riedel of The Post (and of  Theater Talk) for slipping this tidbit to Page 6 on the other side of his office.

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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