You want drama? You got it.

The biggest drama of the last decade is occuring right now.

The Producer?  Mother nature.

What’s happening in Haiti is one of the most dramatic tragedies the world has seen in a long time.

Unfortunately, we’re only at the end of Act I.  Act II is about to begin.

How will it end?  That’s up to all of us.

Give today.  Visit RedCross.org.

(Or try the Red Cross “Ten Dollar Texting” campaign.  Donate $10 immediately by texting “Haiti” to 90999.)

Can it be festival time already? It is!

I hate winter.

I keep saying that every year I’m going to circulate a petition to try and get Broadway to move to the West Coast or West Figi or someplace like that.  I want to sing, “It’s Too Darn Hot!” all year long and mean it.

To make me feel better, all winter long I look for signs of the upcoming Spring and Summer . . . anything that helps me through a winter in the city (and I’m from Massachusetts – you’d think I could deal with this).

For example, as soon as we hit the winter solstice on 12/21 or 22, which traditionally marks the first day of winter, I usually spin it to say, “The days start getting longer tomorrow . . . spring is right around the corner!”

Ok, sorry to sidetrack you with my psyche . . . but the point is that one of these “Summer Signs” is the announcement that the spring/summer/fall festivals are now accepting submissions.

And guess what?

Applications are currently being accepted for the following NY Festivals:

If you’re a writer/producer/etc, now is the time to get your materials in order.  The deadlines are always sooner than you think.

Don’t have a show?  Find one.  Write one.  Make one up.  That’s what these guys did, and it worked out for them.  The Broadway show didn’t work.

But last I heard they were writing a sitcom.

So get a show submitted and get something up. You never know what’ll happen as a result.

On the other hand, I can guarantee you what will happen if you do nothing.

This blog inspired by Tiger Woods.

Regular readers will remember that I announced the closing of Altar Boyz on this blog on Friday, December 4th.

What you may not know, is that the blog was the only place I announced it that morning.

Normally, an announcement like this would be written up and sent out by the Press Agent to all of the various news outlets, from The New York Times to Playbill to UncleBillsBroadwayBlog.com

But, much to my press agent’s dismay, I put a muzzle on him that morning.

Why?  I wanted to test the power of new media.  I wanted to see how long it took for the traditional media outlets to pick up on the story if it didn’t come with in the form of a traditional announcement or an email.  I wanted to see how long it took the blogosphere and the Twitterverse to churn the story and get it in front of the big boy editors.  (Here’s where the Tiger Woods connection comes in – I was inspired to try this because Tiger was making all of his public statements to the press on his blog, and nowhere else, and the world was devouring it).

So how long did it take?  One hour.

It took only one hour from my post to the first publication of the story (on Playbill.com, by the way).  The New York Times called 90 minutes after it went up.

But get this – the first thread on AllThatChat started only 45 minutes after my post.

The most interesting part of this experiment?

Before many of the media outlets posted the story, they called my Press Agent to ask if it was true.  Gotta give them major cred for verifying the story, even though the source was the Producer.

You’ll see more announcements like this in the future, and not just from me.  Tiger has taught us well (uh, in some areas – in others, he’s just a giant sand-trap-sized d-bag).

(Unfortunately, it was true, Altar Boyz is closing on January 10th.  If you haven’t seen it yet, you’ve only got 15 chances left.  Get your tickets here.)

My response to the demise of the Oleanna Take-A-Side talkbacks.

Oleanna got people talking.

So one of our early marketing strategies was to try and whip up our audiences into an even greater frenzy so that they would talk even louder and longer.

One of the rev-up devices we used was the “Take-A-Side” talkback series that featured a moderator and celebrity panelists, from former Mayor Dinkins to Fox TV correspondents to Tovah Feldshuh to University Deans to harassment litigation experts, and so on, all discussing the issues of the play and allowing the audiences to ask questions and make comments.

Everyone who I spoke to felt like the talkbacks made the experience of going to the theater even better.

Unfortunately, Mr. Mamet disagreed.  As Michael Riedel reported back in November . . .

Alas, Mamet hated them [talkbacks]. He never attended one, but he’s against them on principle, believing that his play should stand on its own and not be picked apart by “experts” on the law, feminism and campus sexual harassment policies.

It’s always tough to hear that your author doesn’t like something you want to do, especially when that something is helping market your show.

The analogy I use when describing why Mamet or any author would be opposed to such an initiative is that some authors are like painters who don’t want a fancy frame around their piece of art.  They just want you to look at the picture and only the picture.

I get it, and I respect it.

Of course, you and I know that the right frame can actually draw eyeballs to look at that picture in even greater detail.  And that’s one of the producer’s jobs . . . to attract eyes to the art.

As hard as it was to hear that our author couldn’t stand one of our initiatives, we soldiered on . . . until, that is, we needed some help.  We had to make a compromise, and the talkbacks went the way of the public-health option on the current health plan bill.

Was I disappointed?  You betcha.

Let me be perfectly clear.  I have the utmost respect for Mr. Mamet, his artistic integrity, his resolve, and because he’s a brilliant f-ing writer.

But getting people to attend the theater is getting harder and harder (as the NEA keeps telling us), and since our producing hands are handcuffed by so many other things in this business, we need to have the freedom to exercise good ideas when we have them (it’s not like we had a guy in a Gorilla suit standing out front trying to get people to buy tickets).

The more restrictive we make it, the more those Authors may find Producers sitting out the next one.

I know I’ll be sitting out the next Mamet.

—–

Don’t forget to vote for the 2009 Producer of the Year

Make sure you cast your vote by Sunday, December 27th at 8pm.

The winner will be announced here on the blog, on Monday, December 28th.

VOTE NOW

What Tiger Woods needs to learn about press.

El Tigre may know how to swing a club, but he’s pretty handicapped when it comes to knowing how to spin a story.

By now, the world is abuzz with what really caused the Tiger Woods 2:25 AM car crash outside his Floridian mansion.  Was he drunk?  Was he on drugs?  Was he on his way to meet another woman?  Did his wife beat the sand trap out of him for a prior affair?

Why all these questions?

Because he didn’t come out in front of the story.

Whether we like it or not, refusing to talk, pleading the fifth, or hiding behind an agent makes it look like you having something to hide, whether you do or not.

The moment that Tiger refused to talk to the police, the rumor mill went into overdrive, and the story started to spin out of control.  The second time?  The third?  Tiger has missed so many news cycles that whatever really happened is now going to get even more attention.

Obviously something serious is going on in the life of the world’s greatest golfer, and for that I’m very sorry.  But if Bill Clinton, Britney Spears, Alec Baldwin and the rest of the celebs in this world have taught us anything it’s that you can f-up and can be forgiven.

The best way to handle a press crisis of this nature for a celebrity or for a show is to come out in front of the story, and come out first.

As a producer, you want to own the story.  You want to control the story.  Hide from it, and the story will become bigger than it deserves to be.

Unless of course, you actually want the press.

—–

Only 9 days until The 2nd Annual Producers Perspective Social!

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RSVP Today!

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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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