What does a Broadway Producer do? I’ll show you . . . LIVE.

In 2010, back in the early days of this blog, I got an email from a young lady who asked me, “What does a Broadway Producer do?”

I took her question, and sent it around to my Producing Peers and asked them to answer it in one sentence.  I posted all of the responses in a blog, that has since become one of my most read entries to date.  You can read it here.  (By the way – Young Inquisitive Lady who emailed me . . . who has probably now graduated from college and is hopefully producing somewhere . . . if you’re reading this, drop me a line and let me know what you’re up to.)

Flash forward eight years later, and just last Saturday I was interviewed by ABC radio and guess what the host asked?  Yep.  He didn’t know what a Producer did either.

I gave my usual answers about how a Broadway Producer is like a CEO or Chairman of the Board, or like any entrepreneur who starts a business.

And then I ended with why I love my job . . . because every day is different.  One day I’m getting the rights to a show, the next day I’m working on a new marketing initiative, then I’m opening a show, raising money for the next one, meeting songwriters, interviewing directors, courting stars, etc., etc.

And no matter how challenging each day may be, it’s all awesome.  Because it’s all about the theater.

The interview ended and my big takeaway was that despite my ten years of blogging, people out there were still wondering what Broadway Producers actually do!  Since part of my mission has always been to help demystify Broadway and the profession of The Producer, I knew I had to figure out another way to pull back the curtain.

And blogging and podcasting weren’t going to cut it this time.

So, starting today, I’m launching the most behind-the-curtain view into what I do.

Yep, I’m launching a series on Facebook Live called . . . #EveryDayIsDifferent.

Starting TODAY at around noon, I’ll host my first Facebook Live episode. And every weekday (and occasionally on a weekend), at least once per day, you’ll get a Facebook Live from me, telling you where I am, what I’m doing, and why #EveryDayIsDifferent.

You’ll catch me at ad meetings, agent meetings, openings, focus groups, investor meetings, and everything else that I do (and maybe even a glimpse into how I balance my work with my life/wife/soon-to-be-born Broadway baby).

I’ll explain what I’m up to and why I’m doing what I’m doing, daily.

For those of you who remember the 100 Days to Godspell, “Day By Day” blog (seen here), it’s a bit like that . . . but live and on camera.  (Ok, I just got a little nervous when I typed that – what have I gotten myself into!)

And this is a terrific time to get a glimpse into the day-to-day of what a Broadway Producer does, because we’re going into awards season with Once On This Island and I’m getting into the production phase of Gettin’ The Band Back Together.  (And I’m also announcing a new musical in development this very week so stay tuned!)

There will be lots of stuff going on, and you’ll get to see it all, including the good days, the bad challenging days, and everything in between.

So you wanna see what a Broadway Producer does?

All you have to do is click here and like me on Facebook.  You’ll be notified when I go live.  And if you miss it, the video will be stored for later, so you can watch it whenever.

Got it?

Just click here.  Like the page.  And remember, #EveryDayIsDifferent.

See you . . . (gulp) . . . live.

 

 

Believe it or not, this is NOT a good thing for Broadway.

On Tuesday, I insta-ed that I’d be posting tips and takeaways from the marketing conference I attended this week.

But you’re going to have to wait.

Because there was some breaking Broadway news this week that I felt needed a blog.

Honestly, when this news broke, I bet a whole bunch of people in the biz cheered enthusiastically (including a bunch of Broadway Producers).

And I wanted to make sure that people knew it wasn’t such a good thing.

Yesterday it was announced, that Broadway’s “Demon Barber of Shubert Alley,” gossip columnist Michael Riedel, is leaving his post at the NY Post.

Since Michael’s few hundred words a week can cut sharper than any knife in a drawer, it’s no surprise that Producers, Actors, Writers, etc. may be breathing a huge sigh of relief as he sheaths that sword and moves over to radio and a more general morning talk show.

Why am I not jumping up and down?  Here are my three reasons:

  1.  PSSSSST . . .There’s a reason why Michael kept his desk over the last decade, while critic after critic kept getting laid off.  Because people like gossip!  And gossip, good or bad, gets people talking.  And people talking about Broadway is (almost) always a good thing.
  2. HE’S MORE POSITIVE THAN YOU THINK. You might think that Michael only slammed shows, but if you look at his track record, I’d bet that the ratio of positive to negative slants were more 50/50 than you think (as humans, we only tend to remember the negative – you might get 10 great reviews on a show and 1 bad one, and you’ll focus on that bad one like it was the only one, am I right?). With Michael gone, we’re losing a positive outlet for our news in a paper that doesn’t dedicate much space to the arts.
  3. HE LOVED IT MORE THAN YOU THINK. When Michael appeared on my podcast (in its very early days), I was taken by two things. First, he knows his $hit. If I was on a Broadway trivia game-show and had a phone-a-friend option, it would be a serious toss-up between him and Jen Tepper as my go-to.  Second, he may not show it, but he loooooooooooves Broadway.  And when that kind of passion won’t be paid to talk exclusively about the theater anymore, it’s a big flop-like loss.

I have this feeling that Michael will still be around a bunch, and I have this secret dream that he’s leaving only so he can be a double-agent on morning radio and talk about Broadway non-stop, but losing him on our daily beat ain’t a good thing.

Because yes, most press, good or bad, is still good press.

(The Broadway space is now wide open for a gossip columnist, by the way . . . who do you think will take the spot?)

My takeaways from my marketing conference will be next week . . . in the meantime, listen to my podcast with Michael here. 

What the theater crunch could mean for the subsidiary market.

Every quarter, my Assistant prepares a new chart of what’s in all the Broadway theaters, and what we expect is coming next.

At a glance it tells me what theaters are available, or as I like to say, “in play.”  (Get it?  In “play!”  Alright, alright, it’s not that funny, I know.  I’m practicing my soon-to-be-Dad humor.)

And every quarter the number of those “in play” theaters get smaller and smaller, as shows run longer and longer.

This theatrical traffic jam is preventing a lot of new shows from getting on the road to Broadway.

And now, just like any traffic jam that doesn’t get cleared up quick, it’s causing a problem on the other end of the jam.

See the regional theater market, the summer stock market, the community theater market, etc., all depend on new shows coming down the pike to fill their seasons.  These theaters like to do the “new” stuff too (when it eventually trickles down to them).  After all, how many times can they do Oklahoma?

Well, if there are fewer theaters on Broadway for new shows, then that means fewer new shows for the subsidiary market.

So what’s a non-Broadway theater to do?

Look elsewhere!

And that’s the good news for writers out there.

If the subsidiary market isn’t getting an adequate supply of shows for their markets, they’ll have to get their product elsewhere.  And that means these theaters might start taking shows without a Broadway pedigree.

So if you’re a writer, don’t pin all your hopes and dreams on Broadway . . . because I’m predicting that there is going to be a whole bunch more opportunities coming your way.

All thanks to the Broadway traffic jam.

(Want to hear more about how one playwright has earned a living without ever having a show on Broadway?  Click here.)

 

Our 2nd “Shut Up and You-Know-What” is TOMORROW!

You know what I’m talking about, right?

I’m talking about SHUT UP AND WRITE, our in-person writing session, for anyone who wants to put pen to paper or keys to a keyboard, whether you’ve had twenty plays published or never even finished a page.

And our second one is tomorrow, Saturday, January 20th from 10 AM – 1 PM and all you have to do to join us is sign up here.

Being a writer is being your own boss.  But the irony is, artists aren’t usually the personality types that make great bosses!  That’s why writers need a little help with structure, accountability, and goals.

Shut Up and Write is just that.  It’s a set time.  With a set goal (finish X by the time before you leave).  And with experts like my Director of Creative Development, Eric Webb, there to help answer questions or challenges you may have with your project.

Show up and you’re guaranteed to get something done.  It’s just what happens.  So join us.

Look at what a few of our last “Shut-Uppers” had to say about the event:

“Ken Davenport’s ‘Shut Up And Write!’ event was a one of a kind experience: writers from the tri-state area sitting together silently, in a theater writing.  In the crazy and noisy hustle and bustle of every day life, it’s an infrequent opportunity to have 3 straight hours of quiet to oneself to tune into and explore our creative selves.  It was especially rewarding being around the energy of the other writers: quiet, yet a safe cocoon to create in, where you knew you had empathetic people around you supporting your process.  And all for the price of a cup of coffee!  Doesn’t get better than that…” – Ali Skylar

“I recently participated in Ken Davenport’s first Shut Up and Write gathering. I was able to sit with a bunch of my fellow writers and get a solid three hours of writing done. During breaks I was able to meet with some great people that were also there to advance their goals. Even Ken and his team were available to answer questions and offer guidance. I’m looking forward to signing up the next time the event is offered.” – Edward Medina

We hold the event at my theater, which isn’t the size of the Palace, unfortunately.  That means, there is a limit to the number of Writers we can host.  So if you’re ready to start writing, click here.

And it doesn’t matter where you are with your play, musical, screenplay.

Don’t have an idea?  Make a goal to come up with one by the time the session is done.

Got an outline?  Make a goal to write the first three scenes.

Have a draft?  Make a goal to do a rewrite of one act.

All that matters is you come, you shut up, and you write.

Register here.

 

Podcast Episode 145 – Powerhouse Literary Agent to the Stars, Jonathan Lomma

There was a time when I thought about being an agent.  I interviewed with the big three-lettered agencies and was even offered a couple of gigs.  But I didn’t take them.

Because I didn’t have the stamina to sit behind one of those desks for 5+ years before I could agent myself.

You know who did have that stamina and guts?  Today’s guest, Mr. Jonathan Lomma.

Jonathan heard about agenting early on, and whether he knew it or not, he put himself on a path, which he fulfilled, of representing legends like Terrence McNally, Arthur Laurents, and Edward Albee.

We talked about what it was like working with such major writers like the triple-play above, as well as:

  • What made him go to law school even though he was a child actor.
  • Jonathan’s theory of how musicals changed after 2001.
  • How an emerging writer gets on his radar.
  • His favorite quote about working closely with people on the “other side” of the table.
  • And more.

Within five seconds of meeting Jonathan, you just know that he found his calling.  Being an agent is exactly what he is supposed to do.

And after five seconds of listening to this podcast, you’ll realize that Jonathan isn’t just an agent for his clients.  He’s an agent for the theater.  And we’re lucky to have him as an advocate.

Enjoy!

Click here for the link to my podcast with Jonathan!

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

Download it here.

 

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