Who is the opposite of Will Ferrell?

Just as Will Ferrell went on sale to the public yesterday (and it’s selling like you would expect it to, so get your tickets now), I signed on to produce another Broadway show:  Blithe Spirit,
starring Angela Lansbury (not to mention Rupert Everett, Christine
Ebersole, Simon Jones, and Jayne Atkinson) and directed by Michael
Blakemore.

If you think I’m nuts to do another show in this market, you’re not alone.  My mom, a proud but still smarting investor in 13, said.  “Why now?”

Simple, Momma.

There are always winning stocks in every market.  And there are always winning shows in any season.  Do you think all the people in the financial industry just stopped going to work when the market plummeted?  No.  The lifers looking for a career and not quick money, reassessed what was working, what was failing, and got back in the game, smarter than before.

It’s my job as a Producer to do the same thing as a mutual fund manager – to try and determine what shows are working now, and what will work in the future, both for myself and for my investors, and make recommendations accordingly.

And I believe that classics, comedies and stars with a dash of a “once-in-a-lifetime”, must-see event is what will stand out to the ticket-buying public.

To be honest, if you had asked me ten years ago if I ever would produce a revival of a 1941 Noel Coward comedy, I would have told you that I wouldn’t even go SEE a Coward comedy.

But times change. Tastes change.  Markets change.  Those same financial analysts weren’t buying alternative energy stocks 10 years ago, but I bet they are looking at that sector now.

The other reason I signed on to this show?

Because Angela Lansbury and Will Ferell are as opposite as Jeremy Piven and George Washington.

As I looked over my show portfolio, there was one audience that I
didn’t have covered.  And just like you wouldn’t develop a stock
portfolio without some exposure to the international markets, I wanted
a show that gave me exposure to the “traditional theatergoer” market.
And one of the most successful comedies in theatrical history and this
star-studded cast including a Broadway legend certainly qualifies.  (I
used this theory as a reason to pick up Speed The Plow last fall to balance my exposure to the musical market in 13, and that worked well).

It all makes sense, right?  Will it work?

Stay tuned to find out.  And feel free to tell me if you think I’m crazy or not.

And Mom?  What do you say?  Are you investing in both Will and Blithe?

My next Broadway show.

See you on Inauguration Day!

– – – – –

Only 4 days until . . .

THE FIRST-EVER PRODUCER’S PERSPECTIVE SOCIAL

Friday, December 12th @ 6:30 PM
The Time Out Lounge at New World Stages
340 West 50th St. (between 8th and 9th Avenues)
Free Drink, Munchies and $25 tickets to the New World Show of Your Choice (subject to avail.)
RSVP by commenting (Name – 1st Show You Ever Saw)

Any questions?  Email me.

See you there!

Favorite Quotes: Volume XIV

“There is no shame in closing a show.” – Mike Isaacson, Producer, Fox Theatricals

Click here.

Is the grass always greener?

I was jealous.

When the revival of American Buffalo announced that Haley Joel Osment was joining Leguizamo AND Cedric The Entertainer, for a moment I thought I was involved with the wrong Mamet.  Many people think it’s a better play than Speed, it had three Hollywood names appealing to three different demographics, etc.

I took a second, reminded myself of why I got involved with Speed and the moment eventually passed.  But I do admit, I had some John Patrick Shanley-sized doubt for a half-a-day.

Flash forward to today.  After a set of disappointing reviews and in the midst of a climate where Harry Potter only pulled in $495k last week, Buffalo just announced that their closing date will be Sunday!  If only Haley saw notices being posted instead of dead people.

The lesson?  Stick to your guts and your initial instincts, because while the grass is always greener, sometimes it’s artificial turf:  attractive to the eye, but nothing real underneath.

Before anyone accuses me of celebrating this premature closing, let me correct you – this ain’t good news.  First, it’s another Show Spot.  I don’t remember the last star driven, high profile, limited-run revival of a tested play that closed this fast, do you?

Second, anytime Broadway boots out three Hollywood actors after only a week makes those Hollywooders think twice about doing it again. And they don’t need us like we need them.

Overheard at Angus. Vol. 1.

Today marks the debut of a new feature on TPP:  Overheard at Angus.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Angus, it’s one of a few eateries where industry muckety-mucks mix with chorus girls and share great burgers and great gossip.

It’s also where many of the industry’s greatest minds and greatest egos try and solve some of our gigantic problems.

I’m at Angus (and its other similar locales) a lot.  Every so often, I’ll hear something worth mentioning, so I will.  No names, and frankly, I’ll be using Angus in the generic form to represent anywhere I hear an idea worth discussing, whether that’s at McDonalds, Fairway, or Chelsea Studios.

This week’s Overheard involved a pretty prominent producer and an agent sharing a drink/negotiation.  Here’s the crux of the convo:

Producer:  I don’t get it.  Why such a large advance?  Of all the shows that I’ve done, the authors have made a helluva lot more than I have over the years.  They get licensing, royalties, publishing.  What do we get?  The right to produce the show in a biz with an 80% failure rate.  Thank you for that gift!  And if we fall in that 20% and actually do recoup, any profit has to be split between the 147 other producers it takes to put on a show these days.

Agent:  Come on, don’t give me that.  You get weekly royalties and fees, too.

Producer:  Yes, which go towards running an office that helps run the show.

Agent:  You get a share of licensing, too.

Producer:  Wrong.  The show gets a piece of licensing.  Which means that the investors get it if the show hasn’t recouped, as they should.  The Producer doesn’t get anything in those cases.

 (At this point, Mr. Producer ordered another Jack and Coke.)

Agent:  So what are you saying?  You don’t think they should make that much?  These guys write the shows.  Without them, you can’t produce a thing.  You might as well go into manufacturing widgets.

Producer:  No, that’s not what I’m saying at all.  They wrote it.  And if it’s a hit, they should get rich, and they should get rich before I do. Andrew Lloyd Webber deserves every penny.  What I’m saying is . . . if the chances of me ever making any money are less than the chances afforded to the authors . . . shouldn’t they be the ones giving us an advance?

Only at Angus, kids . . . only at Angus.

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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