I’m gonna say it . . .

. . . cuz I know you’re all thinking it.

Sondheim is the Shakespeare of the American Musical Theater.

(Wait for it.  Wait for it.)

Like Bill’s, Sondheim’s material is so incredibly rich.  It demands attention.  It needs to be studied by anyone who wants to pursue a career in the theater.  It needs to be read, listened to, and dissected so we can debate and learn from every little detail.  It’s that brilliant.

(Here it comes.)

But like Shakespeare’s, it’s not that exciting to watch.

Ok, ok, before you call me a heathen, I know that most of you think the same thing, so don’t even start.

I’ve got the attendance and recoupment records for all of Sondheim’s prior productions to back me up.

Brilliance doesn’t always work on Broadway.

 

Television 2.0.


CBS canceled Hugh
Jackman’s musical television series,
 Viva Laughlin, today.  After only two outings.  Ouch.

But that’s not what’s interesting to me (I mean, did anyone think the
show would work?  It reeked of mid-season cancellation).

What interested me was what was taking its time slot:  The
Amazing Race
 
Hold on a second.  I’m not going where you think I’m going. 

Everyone knocks
Reality Television.  But why?  Everyone loves Web 2.0., don’t they?

Reality
television is the ultimate form of
 User Generated
Content
 . . . just on
television instead of the web.  It’s TV 2.0.

One
could argue that the birth of Reality TV in the US (with
 Survivor in 2000) is what
spawned the User Generated Content movement which began in 2005.

American Idol is Users singing
and Users voting.  Like EBay, the show just provides the opportunity and
the platform for the two sets of Users to meet each other and interact.
And then it gets out of the way.  It’s television social networking.

So
don’t knock Reality TV.  There’s a connection between these two forms of
media and entertainment.   If you love one, you gotta love the other.
 
Now
how does theatre, the eternal late-adopter, fit into this UGC movement? 
 
We
have a lot to learn from the audience that would rather watch
 The Amazing Race over a
multi-million dollar slickly-produced show like
 Viva.

 

We’re one pitch away from a Strikeout.

 

A lot of people
have been asking me whether or not I think the Local 1/Broadway League contract
negotiation will result in a strike.

My answer is
simply . . . no.  There will be no Local 1 strike.

In fact, I’ll bet
$100 on it.  Any takers?  I’ll pay 10:1.

Why am I so
confident?  Because of a man named Mr. Trocchio, my high school history
teacher who taught me that to determine the course of the future, you must look
at the events of the past (ok, every history teacher teaches that . . . but Mr.
Trocchio sticks out in my mind because he used to grade our papers while eating
pasta and once I had spaghetti sauce on my ten-pager about the Treaty of
Versailles).

Anyway . . . when
you look at the history of modern labor negotiations in the theater, you will
see that there have been only two strikes on Broadway since 1975. 

That data alone
would be enough to give even odds that there will be no strike.

Here’s why I’m
giving 10:1:

BOTH of those
strikes in the last 32 years have been by the SAME union . . . Local 802.
The musicians.

And, in fact,
Local 1 has never struck Broadway.

The League and all
of the other unions it negotiates with, from the Actors to the Ushers, have
always been able to resolve their issues without a walkout.  Always.
No matter how contentious those negotiations can get.

A major contract
negotiation is like the Fourth of July.  Both are on the calendar.
And both have lots and lots of fireworks.

But that doesn’t
mean Broadway is going to blow its hand off.

(Although, I have
to be honest.  As the producer of three Off-Broadway shows that would have
a lot less competition if there was a Broadway strike, there’s a part of me
that’s secretly hoping for one.)

What Mr. Trocchio
would really be interested in, besides a plate of ravioli, is why the musicians
walk out more than anyone else?  What is it about those negotiations that
don’t go as well?

This is something
we should all start looking at now, or I may be betting the other way when
their negotiations come up next.

Until then, watch
my Red Sox win the series if you’re looking for strikes.

Oh, and if there
are any Federal Agents reading this blog, please know that the above referenced
bet was made in jest.  This is not an online gambling site and we have no
way of taking money, even though if  someone was interested in taking that
bet, they could email me using the address to the left of this blog.  Happy Strike Watch!

 

Speak up, Louise!

 

I was honored to
be asked to speak on a panel on ‘Guerrilla Tactics in Theater Publicity’ at The
Center of Communication this coming Thursday, October 25th at 6:30 PM.

Click here for
all of the details.

Should be a fun
panel . . . not that I am a guerrilla publicity guy or anything. 

Although, I do
wonder what the Back Street Boys did with that rubber chicken I FedExed them
when they didn’t show up for the
 Altar Boyz Boy
Band Battle.  And that ‘
Virgins Get In Free’ promotion
for the opening night of
 My First Time truly
was a service for the chaste. 

The most fun part
of the panel is that it’s going to be moderated by
Michael Reidel, the infamous Perez Hilton of Broadway. 

Michael and I go
way back.  He hammered Bernadette Peters in
 Gypsy when I was the
Associate General Manager.  It eventually closed, and I’m sure his pen had
something to do with it. 

You’d think I’d be
mad, but I’ve forgiven him.  After all, if
 Gypsy had never closed,
I’d probably still be managing shows instead of producing them.

See you at The Center!

Cooler than the other side of the pillow.


BroadwaySpace got
mentioned on the
 Ning Blog today. 

Theatre is such an
insulated and archaic industry with its own set of economics and politics that
it’s a real honor when companies outside of it take notice.  Thanks, Ning!

Oh, and I just love the fact
that the
 CEO joined BroadwaySpace.  She has 110,000 networks
on Ning.  And she took 

time to
join up, fill out a
 profile, and message me back and forth. 
Cool. 

 

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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