Monday, August 10, 2009

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Okay, okay. Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

I was real tempted to spout off when the Feds indicted some Carpenters for embezzlement, bribery, wire fraud on the same day that Garth Drabinsky started his 7 years of research on a musical version of “The Big House.” It was certainly an karmic rich environment with Drabinsky’s attorney (or “mouthpiece” as Darth is learning) proposing that Drabinsky do community service by speaking to theatre students about “avoidance of unethical conduct” and the knuckleheaded President of the Carpenters turning himself in and testing positive for cocaine and marijuana. But thinking that I might not have anything positive to add to the conversation, I withheld comment.

But now some punk cheesehead from Racine, sitting at his computer alone in the dark in his underwear, is sending out anonymous emails about Union members not attending the Town Hall meeting about health care reform.

From the Huntington Post.

You socialist f---s have the nerve to say stop the violence at the town hall meetings when they weren't violent until you p---ies showed up because your n----- leader obama said to?????? When we have ours in Racine, Wi, I want you there. I want one of your little b----- to put his hands on this Marine. I want one of you to look or talk to me wrong. I'll be the last thing your ignorant faux body guards will remember for a very long time. You can f---ing guarantee that.

Yo, yo, Joe Cheesehead, over here, listen up. I fully realize that as a member of organized labor and a union member, I belong to one of the most despised minorities in the United States today. In fact I take a bit of pride in that. It’s an outlaw thing. And I understand that you, Joe The Dumber, are not really arguing for the retention of corporate profits in place of healthcare, in some form, for all. It’s that whole supremacist thing, us vs. them that you want to keep. That little high your brain produces when the hate juices are flowing. But you are allowing yourself to be played by the racist fear mongers that seem to have dominated the body politic since Joe McCarthy’s red baiting and Nixon’s “Southern Strategy.” The same billionaires that are shipping the industrial base of America to cheap labor markets are using your rage to promote their money driven control over every aspect of your life. Wake up. You don’t like the way things are and you’re afraid to change. Not a pleasant place to be. And so you rage.

You do have a right, guaranteed the Constitution, to have freedom of speech. So do I. However your right to swing your fist stops at the end of my nose. So lets stop the threats, the name-calling and the pitting of Americans against Americans. Don’t hang on to your hate but don’t lose your rage. Direct it against the people who are really ruining America.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Pushcart Takes A Hit

The NY Times reports that during a time of deepening economic crisis, The Broadway League imposed an unannounced $1 a ticket surcharge on the tickets sold at TKTS. TKTS is the ticket outlet for discount tickets sold by the Theatre Development Fund, the not-for-profit that was established to aid in the promotion of the performing arts in NYC. The League, which has decried anything that would raise ticket prices, quietly imposed the surcharge/fee/restoration charge on those patrons at the lower end of the economic scale; those who patiently wait in line in all kinds of weather to see what discount tickets are available. Three months later, when the state considered a restoration of the amusement tax, Rocco Landesman, the nominee for Chairman of the NEA, plead "pity the poor workingman" in arguing against the tax in front of a legislative hearing on the tax proposals, saying that ticket price increases will cause shows to close, restaurants to fail and frogs to fall from the sky. The League, which according to tax returns spends 30% of its revenue on salaries, claims that the fee is for "added value for theatergoers", educational programs and web sites. League member dues, which make up about half of the Leagues $8 million revenue, will go up by 10%. The source of the additional 10% was not disclosed but it is unlikely that in these troubled times, the theatre patron will see ticket prices drop.

I fail to see how raising the cost of a ticket will add value to theatre-goers on a budget. It’s also interesting how we’ve gotten to “the hard-working men and women employed by Broadway” from "Our goal is simple: to pay for workers we need and for work that is actually performed."

The last surcharge became a war chest. Who's next?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Does anyone else see a similarity between the uproar over Nancy Pelosi and scenery? Not to make light of the suffering these human beings were put through but it seems to me that blaming Nancy Pelosi for the torture scandal is like blaming the closing of a show on the scenery. Both were in the background, neither were strutting and fretting his hour upon the stage. She didn't write the play, cast it, light it, prop it or even elect to produce the turkey in the first place. And now the actors and producers are saying, “Nancy, why didn’t you tell us this one was a stinker? It’s your fault!”

And the Times dutifully reports about the latest fight backstage as if it was actually somehow consequential. “Minsky outraged he’s not being sued for a million.”

There’s the news and then there’s the facts. What a world.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Artists For Workers Choice

The performing arts unions have created a web ad supporting the Employee Free Choice Act.

Artists For Workers Choice

The Stars Come Out in Support of Employee Free Choice Act
The stars of stage and screen—actors, musicians, Broadway performers, comedians, writers and crew—are coming out in support of the Employee Free Choice Act through a new online video called “Artists4WorkersChoice.” Many have Oscar, Grammy, Emmy and Tony awards and nominations, and they have one thing in common—they’re all union members, and they all share the experience of working every day for a living, struggling to find jobs and pay the bills.
“People associate actors with fame and glory. The truth is for a long time my union contract was the reason I could support my family. That’s why I support the Employee Free Choice Act,” said television star Amy Brenneman. “Because each worker, regardless of their field, deserves the freedom to bargain for a contract, for a better life.”

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Where's The Adult Supervision?

So The Associated Students of the University of Arizona (ASUA) decided that a nice little concert would be fun. They even had a cute little name for it. Last Smash Platinum Bash. Since the Kanye West "Glow in the Dark Tour," packed the McKale Center's 14,545 seats with 9000 ticket buyers, the President of the University, Tommy Bruce, decided to make it a "top priority during his second term to rekindle a stadium concert."

The student promoters’ education began with an unusual pairing of acts and strange method of financing. University of Arizona to Host 1 Million Dollar Concert Featuring Jay-Z and Kelly Clarkson reports that while the cost to put on the show rose to above $1 million, ASUA was working on a zero-based budget in which all expenses will be covered after the concert in the form of ticket sales and other revenue. What could possibly go wrong?


*An Arizona concert featuring Jay-Z and Kelly Clarkson was a financial failure, according to organizers.
The Associated Students of the University of Arizona (ASUA), who put on the concert, paid Jay-Z $750,000 to co-headline the event with pop star Kelly Clarkson. While Jigga praised the odd pairing, telling MTV it reaffirms that "good music" is neither black nor white; it wasn't enough to sell tickets.

According to estimates listed in the Arizona Daily Star, the student union gave away over 4000 tickets to the Last Smash Platinum Bash in hopes of securing marketing deals with newspapers and radio stations. However, the show still posted a loss of $917,000.

Did the university fire anyone or demand that the promoters add the loss to their student loans? Well, no. In teaching the young adults both personal and business ethics, it allowed the deficit to be made up to be made up not by the promoters but by the University Bookstore. The Bookstore, a monopoly on campus, seems to be operating at such a large profit margin that it had the excess funds at its disposal. A bit like a trust fund in which the well-to-do can fall back on in times of difficulty instead taking personal responsibility for their failures.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I'll Gladly Pay You Tuesday

Sometimes these posts write themselves. I've been playing with the gizmos on the side of the posts while trying to get this internets thing figured out. I was going to get rid of the "News Stagehands Can Use", a Google search for IATSE, when these two items pop up. The first reminds me of my earlier DiCaprio post and with the other, well, words fail me.

In this Tales from the Trenches column in Movie Maker, April Davila describes the negotiations with San Francisco's IATSE Local 16 before production started on Harrison Montgomery. It seems that the Producers started out with a budget big enough to rate a Low Budget Agreement contract. When they realized this, they did what any first-time producer would do. Try to get the budget below the minimum cutoff and hired college kids.

Local 16 BA FX Crowley may have been born at night but he wasn't born last night. A contract was signed, the movie made and two months ago the producers sold the international rights for the project and are currently in negotiations for the domestic rights.

A less fortuitous outcome occurred in River City, err, Charleston when Harold Hill, err, Kearns Entertainment came to town with a show called Palmetto Pointe and apparently a bunch of trombones. The has the sorry story of shills, schlock and Southerners.

I think I'll keep the news thingie.