Superhero spotted on 42nd Street.

Well, it happened.

After years of speculation and millions and millions of dollars, it finally happened.

Spider-Man opened last night on Broadway.

You’re probably thinking I got that last sentence wrong.  That I should have said Spider-Man started previews last night.

But with the amount of ink from new and old media the show got last night and this morning, you might as well call it opened.

The chat boards lit up during the show last night (I bet all of the sites saw a surge in traffic), as did Twitter and the blogosphere.  The traditional media caught up this morning, with Spidey snagging the front page of the NY Post (right out of one of those scenes from a super hero movie where the papers hit the streets with a headline that screams, “Spider-Man saves the day!”) as well articles in the NY Times, The Journal, and many, many others.

And while the big publications aren’t reviewing the show, because they “can’t”, they are letting audience members do it for them, with quotes like “parts of it were really exciting” and “the story-telling is really unclear.”

Fair?  Unfair?

As a Producer, I might be frustrated with any negative coverage judging a first preview before my cake was fully cooked.  But when you build the biggest baked good in the world, you gotta expect it.

And hey – you can always take solace in the fact that what these publications are doing, without knowing it, is putting another nail in their own reviewers’ coffins.  By putting so much attention on the show up front, many audience members will have made up their minds by the time the reviews come out.  (When My First Time had a feature article in the NY Times, I sold soooo many more tickets than I sold when the review came out – and a bunch of people called me and congratulated me on the “review”.)

But I will say this to the press, and to all the chatters out there that have been sharpening their claws for the past several weeks . . . write what you will.  But remember, what they are doing down there is unprecedented.  They are building the musical version of the Great Wall of China.  (Which, by the way, I’m sure had a bunch of cost overruns and was also way behind schedule).

More important that precedent, is that they are employing an awful lot of people.

We should all be pulling for their success.  Explorers of uncharted territory may not always find what they are looking for (remember what Columbus was looking for), and many die in the process, but they always stumble upon something which provides new opportunities for all the rest of us.

Stay the course, Spidey.  Some of us are rooting for ya.

Now the big question is . . . will they be publishing their grosses???

This Broadway Pro is a loser.

A big loser.

Like the BIGGEST loser.

Hugh Hysell, who owns one of Broadway’s biggest marketing firms, is making a bid to be on NBC’s The Biggest Loser.  (You might remember Hugh from Vol. 2 of our 10 Qs for a Broadway Pro.)

I feel sorry for the other folks trying to get on the show.  Hugh is a Marketing Director, for calorie’s sake. Of course he’s going to come up with a fun and theatrical way to demonstrate why he’d be the best contestant.

And sure enough . . . he did.

Hugh’s video application is below . . . and it’s already been written up on a bunch of blogs and featured in the NY Post.

(My favorite part about the video?  Notice how Hugh chose to shoot a portion of the vid on 52nd St . . . right in front of The August Wilson Theatre and Jersey Boys.  Yep, you guessed it . . . Hugh does the marketing for Jersey Boys.  Now that’s a Marketing Director.  Even when he’s stumping for himself, he’s got his clients on his mind.)

Go get ’em Hugh!

10 Things this Producer is thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I love holidays.  Family, food, and big box office numbers.  Mmm, mmm, good.

In addition to being thankful for the flock of tourists coming to town from now through New Year’s, here is a list of my ten other theatrical thankfuls this year.

1.  The Producers of Avenue Q had the courage to try an unprecedented downsize with their move Off-Broadway.  By doing so they kept over 50 people employed and just may have opened up a whole new ‘avenue’ of distribution for Broadway shows of a certain size.

2.  I got the rights to a book called Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating and Marriage.  It’ll be the female version of Defending The Caveman.  Give me 12 months max, and it’ll be up.

3. I moved into a new office, and already it feels like we’re ready for something bigger.  Offices are like aquariums . . . always get the bigger one, because when you get it home, you’re going to want it.

4. The Independent Theater Bloggers Association (The ITBA) was formed and now has 40+ members!  The bod chose a group of award winners for the 2008-2009 season, and at the same time just may have unofficially declared the start of the new media revolution in the theatrical industry.

5.  My Dad had a subdural hematoma, had emergency brain surgery, and is now better than ever (ok, that’s not theatrical, but if anything deserved a standing ovation on this list, it would be this one).

6.  Thanks in part to new management and in part to NPH, the Tony Awards ratings were up 20% in key demos!

7.  My investors, as well as a whole slew of theatrical investors, stayed in the theatrical waters this past year, despite the choppy economy.  They understand that investing in the theater is like investing in the market.   Diversify, stay in the game, and the one that we’re all waiting for will come.

8.  Michael Riedel at the NY Post mentioned the BroadwaySpace.com “50 Most Powerful People on Broadway” article in his column not once, but twice.  I’m thankful that I only commissioned the article and didn’t write it, because I heard there were some really happy people and some really peeved people.

9.  Leslie Arden signed on to write music and lyrics for Somewhere In Time.  After several years of searching for the right person, I found her.  I felt like Richard Collier himself.  The first reading will take place in the summer of 2010, if not sooner.

10.  Finally, I’m thankful for my readers.  Not only have you multipled over the last 12 months, but the comments and discussions that are emerging on the blog are exactly why I started writing in the first place.  We’re increasing the volume of the conversation about making Broadway, Off-Broadway and theater in general work, both artistically and financially.  And when we do that, we all benefit.

And now I’ll sign off this entry with the same Kenism I used last year:

Enjoy your T-day. Just remember . . .

Eat a turkey.  Don’t produce one.

Schadenfreude for Spider-Man?

Rumors started on the street last week that Spidey was in trouble when the multi-million dollar renovation of the Hilton theater was halted.  It was called a “cash-flow problem”, which is corporate for, “we’re not putting up another cent.”

These rumors and even the postponement didn’t come as too much of a shock to me, or to anyone that’s been following the story.  The dramatic suspension of the work even seemed right on target with the Titanic analogy I used in this post.  That pic was plagued with delays and cost overruns.  It makes sense.  Whenever you’re building a product that is three times the size of the norm, you’re bound to run into problems.  Imagine if suddenly someone tried to build a skyscraper three times the biggest skyscraper out there.  Or three times the biggest cruise ship.  Two things are for certain: you’re gonna get press, and you’re gonna have problems.

Yesterday, everyone’s favorite NY Post columnist, Michael “You-Can-Hate-Me-But-I’m-Usually-Right” Riedel was the first to report that the unprecedented production was officially canceled.

So what happened?  Well, here’s my guess . . .

But wait!  In true super-hero fashion, here comes Hello Entertainment to save the day!  Look at this quote that the Producers just gave to MTV, according to BroadwayWorld:

Hello Entertainment is aware of the speculation about the future of Spider-Man on Broadway and is re-confirming that the plan is to resume production shortly and preview on February 25, 2010 at the Hilton Theatre when cash flow issues have been resolved.

So it’s on again?

Hmmm.  Well, ok.  I’m going to try to be optimistic.  I’m going to try, because:

  • There are a LOT of jobs at stake here:  actors, stagehands, box office personnel, etc. and no one needs another few hundred people out of work right now.
  • I think Spider-Man was the only shot we had to breaking a billion bucks this season.  If it goes bye-bye, we just lost what would have been a big big grosser (for a little while, at least).
  • Spider-Man had the potential to bring in new audiences to Broadway

I’m going to try to be optimistic.  I’m going to try.  I’m going to . . .

. . . but I have to wonder . . .

If you were the Producer of Spider-Man and a major publication announced that you were canceling the production, would you make an announcement of your own that the article was BS . . .  to MTV?

Oh, and also, what does it mean if I met a movie producer at a cocktail party tonight and she said that she offered a role in a new movie to Evan Rachel Wood last week and was told she was unavailable.

And then this week she got a call from her agent saying that she may have an opening in her schedule after all.

I’m going to try and be optimistic. I’m going to try.

Because no matter how easy it may be to say, “I told you so,” Spider-Man not happening isn’t good for anybody.

Maybe one idea for the execs at Marvel is to seek the James Cameron-Titanic deal from their creatives.  That’s one way to find out just who is really committed to making this show happen.

I know that if I were one the spiders spinning this web, I’d put my Producer fees and royalties on the pass line just for a chance to roll these super-hero sized dice.

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