Podcast Episode 15 – Dan Wasser


One of the first people that a Broadway Producer hires when he or she sets out to produce a show is his or her attorney.

So, I thought it was about time we heard from one.

It’s a fascinating time in the legal world of Broadway shows, particularly in the area of how money is raised for Broadway shows.  That’s why I picked one of the experts in our industry on financing for this episode, my own attorney, Daniel M. Wasser of Franklin, Weinrib, Rudell & Vassallo!

I’ve worked with Dan for over a decade, and he has given me some fantastic advice over the years.  But one of my favorites is this ol’ chestnut about what an attorney’s actual function is.  “Ken, our job is to protect you in the case of the best case scenario, or the worst case scenario.”  In other words, they’ve got your back if you’re a massive hit or a massive flop (I think he said this to me when I was griping about why lawyer fees were so high – and he got me to shut up for sure, with that one).

Listen to some more of Dan’s advice on this episode, like:

  • When a Producer should hire an attorney.
  • The future of Author Agreements.
  • Could the movie model of paying artists work on Broadway?
  • The most important part of any negotiation.
  • The 3 Ways the JOBS Act could revolutionize Broadway fundraising.
    • This section of the episode is perhaps the most comprehensive explanation of the JOBS Act including crowdfunding and how it relates to us out there.

Broadway attorneys cost about $500+ an hour.  Listening to this episode is free.  Here’s how to tune in:

Click the link above to listen.

Listen to it on iTunes here.  (And give me a rating, while you’re there!)

Download it here.

Click here to read the transcript.

Podcast Episode 14 – David Rockwell


I can’t draw.  I can’t decorate.  And the bird house I built in shop class was only valuable for the air rights.

So I’m in serious awe of all designers.  But it’s not just because they can put colors and shapes together that are both pleasing and challenging to the eye.  It’s because in addition to their gifts with aesthetics, designers have incredible scientific knowledge.  The job is an incredible juxtaposition of both the left and right sides of the brain, and the people that do it are their own brand of genius.

And the people that do it in multiple mediums?  Now those guys and dolls are something.

There aren’t too many architects and designers that work in as many mediums as David Rockwell.  As you’ll hear in this week’s podcast, David got bit by the Broadway bug early in life, but then went on the unique path of designing other things, like hotels in Las Vegas, some of the most famous restaurants in the world, airport terminals, and more.

But thankfully for us, he came back to Broadway.  And thankfully for me (and for all of you listeners), he sat down with me on the stage of my theater to talk about . . .

  • How he comes up with ideas for the design of his shows.
  • Why transitions are the most important factor in a design.
  • Who taught him to work in our world, after designing in so many other mediums.
  • How Producers should work with designers (and how he deals with Producers).
  • When designers should be hired for a Broadway show.

And yeah, there’s more (wait until you hear the “transparency” epiphany that David taught me!).

So listen in, and don’t forget to subscribe.  We’ve got lawyers and agents and a couple more Tony winners coming up, so stay tuned.

Click above to listen.

Listen to it on iTunes here.  (And give me a rating, while you’re there!)

Download it here.

Click here for the transcript.


Podcast Episode 13 – Tom Kirdahy


What I love about Broadway is that there is no one path to becoming a Producer.  Everyone who gets their name above the title comes at it from their own unique angle.  We’ve got Press Agents that have become Producers, Booking Agents, Actors, and me, I took the General Management route.  And then there are the Marketers from other Industries, the Television Executives, and more.

But IMHO, no one’s path is more unique and more interesting that my guest on today’s podcast, Tom Kirdahy.  Tom started his career as a lawyer.  But he wasn’t your typical lawyer.  He was a fierce advocate for those living with HIV/AIDS in the late 80s, putting his Broadway dreams on hold so he could help fight for the rights of those who were too ill to fight for themselves.  The Normal Heart?  Yeah, Tom lived it.

And now, while still super active in that space (news flash – the AIDS crisis ain’t over), Tom has been able to get back to his first love, and has been the Lead Producer on three shows in the last twelve months:  Mothers and Sons, and this season’s It’s Only A Play and The Visit.

I’ll let Tom describe his path in his own words, as well as . . .

  • Why being a Producer means taking advantage of an opportunity when it presents itself.
  • How to work with stars and how not to work with stars.
  • Whether or not he goes into the chat rooms during previews for a new show.
  • How being a lawyer helped him be a Producer.

With each podcast I do, I’ve noticed a theme always emerges . . . and Tom’s is no different.  And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from Tom from doing this podcast, and from working with him over the past year, it’s the importance of being a fierce, claws-out advocate for the artists on your shows.

Don’t understand what I mean?  Listen in.  And pay special attention to his “closing argument” about The Visit.  It’s how all Producers need to present their shows to investors and audience members.

Listen to it on iTunes here.  (And give me a rating, while you’re there!)

Download it here.

Click here to read the transcript.

Podcast Episode 12 – Wendy Orshan


You know what I love about our industry?  Of the eight or so Broadway General Managers that GM 99% of all Broadway shows, at least half of them are women.  That’s right, the top of our business food chain isn’t an old boys’ club at all.  And that’s awesome.

I was lucky enough to get Nina Lannan to share her secrets of managing a Broadway show back on episode #3, and this week, you are lucky enough to get to listen to the smart and supportive comments of another one of our Broadway superpowers, Wendy Orshan, of 101 Productions.

Along with her partner at 101 Productions, Jeff Wilson (who was the 1st Company Manager I ever met, back in 1993 when I was the PA/Kid-who-got-Richard-Chamberlain-his-fresh-roasted-turkey-sandwiches on the revival of My Fair Lady), Wendy has GMed a truckload of shows from Spamalot to The Elephant Man to The Addams Family to The Bridges of Madison County and so many more it’s crazy.

And what’s so awesome about Wendy is that despite that mile long resume, she’s gotta be the most humble person in the industry.  And that’s why people love working with her.  So much experience, so much expertise, yet so welcoming to everyone.

That’s also why a lot of first time Producers sign on with 101.  She takes them under her wing, teaching and protecting, until they can fly off on their own.

And that’s why she made such an awesome guest on my podcast.  Tune in to listen to Wendy talk about:

  • Her definition of the Broadway show hierarchy or wheel-archy, and where a General Manager fits.
  • Why sometimes working within the box is as important as thinking outside the box.
  • The skills you need to produce and manage today that you didn’t need yesterday.
  • Whether or not she would ever produce and why or why not.
  • Her opinion on whether stars matter . . . or not.

There aren’t any masters programs out there in Broadway General Management.  But if there were, Wendy would be the professor.  Do yourself a favor and listen in.

Click the link above to listen.

Click here to listen on iTunes (and give me a rating while you’re there!).

Click here to read the transcript.

Download it here.

Podcast Episode 11 – Richard LaGravenese


There have been a ton of Broadway musical to movie adaptations over the years . . . from Chicago to Hairspray to Rent to Into the Woods.

But there have been hardly any Off Broadway musical to movie adaptations.

And then all of a sudden, here comes a film version of The Last 5 Years starring A-lister Anna Kendrick and soon-to-be-an A-lister, Jeremy Jordan.

How did this movie happen?

Two words.

Richard LaGravenese.

Richard is an Academy Award nominated screenwriter behind a few little known movies like, oh, The Bridges of Madison CountyThe Fisher King, Unbroken and a whole bunch more.

So what drew him to The Last 5 Years?  And what does he think about our industry?

Listen to his podcast to hear:

  • The difference between writing plays and writing screenplays.
  • Why the business model of Broadway is much more attractive to writers than the business model of Hollywood.
  • Why there are a lot of writer/directors in Hollywood but not so much here.
  • And whether or not he’s got more musicals he wants to make into movies.

As more musicals and plays are made into movies, and as more musicals and plays are streamed online, the bridge between the West and East coast continues to get built.  Thanks to people like Richard.  And hopefully, people like you.

Listen in above.

Listen to it on iTunes here.  (And give me a rating, while you’re there!)

Download it here.

Click here to read the transcript.