A blog about a blogger.

Six days ago, I passed a few emails back and forth with one of my favorite bloggers (and one of my favorite people) about doing an interview for an article he was working on.

Yesterday, I got a call from one of his friends and found out that he had suddenly passed away at the age of 51.

Patrick Lee was one of the brightest lights on Broadway.  I got to know him during the creation of the ITBA (he helped co-found the org. and headed up our annual awards).  I liked his company and his talent so much, I hired him to write the BroadwaySpace feature, Broadway’s 50 Most Powerful People, which, thanks to him, was our most successful feature of the year.

Talent and great guy-ness, all wrapped up in one.

Patrick was so uberly passionate about every part of what we all do, taking in every show he could, whether it was at a Shubert house, or at some hipster’s house in the East Village.

He saw hundreds and hundreds of shows per year all over the city and in every festival.  I cynically asked him once, “Patrick . . . aren’t most of these shows crap?  How can you continue to sit through them all?”

His response?  “Ken, there’s no place I’d rather be than in a theater.”

I have no doubt that Patrick has premium seats in the biggest and best theaters of all right now.

Someday, Patrick, I hope we’ll meet again . . . although I’ll be lucky if they let me sit anywhere close to you.

Be well, my friend.

UPDATE:  The wake will be Friday, June 11 between 2 – 4pm and 7 – 9pm at Robert Spearing Funeral Home (155 Kinderkamack Road/Park Ridge, NJ  07656). The funeral will be at 10am, Saturday, June 12, at Our Lady of Mercy Church, Park Ridge.

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Should previews be open for online review by bloggers, chatters and more?

Ellen Gamerman at The Wall Street Journal wrote a terrific piece last week about previews, and how problems that shows encounter during the several weeks of previews are exposed more in an online world than they were a decade ago.

It’s true.

Leading man flubbing his lines?  It’ll be all over the boards.  Problems in Act II?  Expect a blog about it.  Set come crashing down on the ensemble?  Well, in that case, you’ve got bigger problems than the boards and the blogs.

There’s a lot of people out there that are jumping up and down, throwing tantrums that two year olds would be proud of, saying, “You can’t review previews!  These people shouldn’t be talking about previews!”

To that I say . . . here’s a bottle of milk and a blanket, now get over it.

As much as we might not like our shows facing quicker criticism from audiences than ever before (and a few of mine have faced some harsh online attacks), there is nothing we can do about it.  Online word of mouth is the new Word of Mouth, and there’s nothing you can do to get in its way.  Can you imagine if any of the people upset about “preview reviews” went up to a group of folks at a Starbucks who were trashing a preview of a play and said, “You can’t talk about that show, it was a preview!”

The group would laugh, and probably trash the show even more.

Word of Mouth used to be invisible, which is why no one complained about stopping people from “chatting” about shows in previews.  The internet gives us (and others) a chance to see the formerly invisible force, which is why so many people want to stop it.

But you can’t.  We all need to realize that Online Word of Mouth and Traditional Word of Mouth have merged into one stronger and faster force of customer communication.

Critics, of course, who work for publications and are given free tickets, are subject to regulation.  One of the reasons I helped form the ITBA, was in the hopes that the new media warriors (aka The Bloggers) could get the same access as critics, which would give the shows a chance to reach a new audience, but with some control over when the bloggers were seeing the shows.

But if your chatters are paying for a ticket, you can’t stop the e-talkin’, so I wouldn’t even try.

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