Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Today's Blind Items - Broadway

Hi there, folks. You won't know who I am, and that's okay. You're better off that way. But to introduce myself very briefly: I am a producer, mainly in the world of theater, but hoping to move increasingly into film and television. In this era of #MeToo, and Enty's exposure of general unpleasantness in the industry, I thought I'd share some tales from the dark side of Broadway, because if anyone thought we were immune, you don't know jack. This story, I'm privy to because I was a negotiator on this project at a later stage. In the words of Bette Davis, "Fasten your seatbelts; it's going to be a bumpy night."

It all starts with two artists. In one corner, we have a fellow I will call H, a respectable family man and widower trying to support two kids with profound health conditions and his elderly mom. He has been a noted wunderkind in certain circles since the mid-to-late Seventies - you name a hat, he's probably worn it, which has been both a blessing and a curse for him for different reasons at different times. He is known to the entertainment industry at large as a workhorse at the level of a project machine and has enjoyed an illustrious professional career as a venerable veteran auteur (director, writer, producer, mainly for the stage). He has a reputation for being a "bad boy" which has landed him in hot water (at one point, his college tried to spuriously expel him in spite of sterling, exceptional academic history), but though I'm biased because I happen to like the guy, I'd argue that this comes from being persistent and argumentative, and if you were working for three decades and had amounted to Spielberg without the money, you'd be entitled to cause a little stir. He has never committed a crime of any kind ever in his life, and in this town, that's saying a lot. The only vice I've witnessed is a little pot and booze now and then.

In the other, a guy I'll call K. K is a composer, lyricist, occasional performer, and director of an annual awards ceremony that only anyone on Broadway cares about, and not as any sort of "ace in the hole." The biggest musical he ever had, to which he made endless unnecessary revisions after freezing out his collaborator, was nominated for six Tony Awards in a very lean season a few decades back and won none of them; it could have been more successful if he had any idea how to properly exploit his work (the only serious coin it's ever made is in the high school/community market, and that coin is a very thin dime). K is also a temperamental psychopath with more demons than you can shake a stick at, among them a sex life that consists solely of barebacking with barely legal male escorts. Before they go out with him, they should demand a copy of his blood test; God only knows how many have been given an unwelcome surprise gift that no one would be delighted to receive or be stuck with for a lifetime. (At 20 looking 16, I once had K size me up like a Second Avenue hooker at a reading. It felt as though a snake had crawled over my foot.)

During the late Eighties / early Nineties, H (unaware of K's proclivities at the time) and K teamed up to collaborate on an original show, and the combination of two rare talents turned out a terrific musical, a killer futuristic adaptation of a lesser-known Shakespeare play. (Of the two, H was arguably the mover-shaker / conceiver / problem-solver who brought the show into being. There's one more driven member in every team.) It was staged in workshop with a performer who went on to become a Tony winner/nominee (you guess which), and it got serious attention: to this day half the League wants it, and many argue seriously that it's a shoe-in for Best Musical if it ever hits Broadway.

There's just one problem: K wanted (still wants) absolute control of the project, never mind that he'd be incompetent to exercise this control if he got it and that he's not entitled to it by any industry standard, and to that end he has consistently gotten in the way of getting everybody (including himself) paid. H has never requested such control from K, and is still by no means trying to divorce him from the project, if only because it's easier to work with a finished score than solicit a new one.

At one point, H learned of K's proclivities, and combined with their increasingly poor business relationship, he understandably slowed his roll. Things broke down to a point that the only solution was to draw up an ironclad contract that both of them must sign off on all decisions related to the show. This didn't sit well with K, who then conveniently forgot he was part of a team. He suddenly started making deals on his own, going around town, with bravado, raising development money without H's consent, and using it to make demo recordings with Broadway stars, breaking union rules by paying his friends and not paying others, and sending out these recordings without H's permission.

Anybody who's serious about this field knows that this behavior would get both of them disgraced and blacklisted, so naturally H rang K's phone off the hook, imploring him to cease and desist, that he would disgrace them, and finally pointing out that their contract wouldn't allow him to get away with this. Unfortunately, when K did pick up the phone, it wasn't to call H back; the call he placed was to the NYPD, lodging accusations of harassment (although when questioned, he said that he didn't feel physically threatened) and playing them a number of H's phone messages, which were mostly begging him to stop.

This might have gone nowhere, but there were extenuating circumstances. At that time, about a year prior, in the same general area, a fight had broken out between two other known writers, about the same status in the industry as H and K, and one threatened the other; the threatened party went to the police, who did nothing, and one writer ended up killing the other, with the cops catching flack for not taking it seriously. So, when K called them and played them H's messages, the boys in blue weren't about to be caught slouching on the job again. H got locked up on misdemeanor charges, along with his aging mom who refused to leave his side. After 12 hours in lock-up with the seediest NY has to offer (terrifying, to say the least), they were let go, and the charges were ultimately thrown out, with Equity ordering K to destroy his illegal demos.

(This wasn't even the last time it happened. By the time I came to the project, K had tried and failed to name his negotiator, a regional theater director who thought you could solve the world rights of a major property in a fifteen-minute conversation; H's side had wiped the floor with him. K appealed to a mutual friend of his and H's, the wife of a major former star of coming-of-age films, for help. She hooked him up with a so-so NY lawyer who tried to strap us with a contract outlining the same deal K wanted since day 1. When H wrote a single email to her husband hoping to explain his side of the situation, and possibly hook both of them - and their daughter - to play parts in the show, the star's beastly side came out, and he threatened in writing to falsely report H to the cops for harassment. Guess that's a general M.O. for K and his crew.)

Needless to say, over 20 years since its inception, the project remains stalled because of K. What would you do?

90 comments:

MontanaMarriott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cheesegrater15 said...

Holy shit. I doubt I'm right, but since I loathe him, I'll guess Andrew fucking Lloyd Weber for K.

Tim said...

@cheesegrater15 That's among the worst guesses I've ever seen here.

canroadrunner said...

Return to the forbidden planet as the musical

Sal Salington said...

Andrew Lloyd Weber doesn't fit, he's been enormously successful at exploiting his works.

cheesegrater15 said...

I know he doesn't fit. I just really hate the guy.

Andrea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
spacecowboy78 said...

No idea for H & K, but based on description and their involvement in Broadway, SJP & Matt Broderick for the husband and wife mutual friends asked to help.

Lurky McLurkster said...

"In the other, a guy I'll call K. K is a composer, lyricist, occasional performer, and director of an annual awards ceremony that only anyone on Broadway cares about,"

I am thinking the awards is the Drama Desk but still trying to find who directs it

sandybrook said...

I think canroadrunner got the title at least

filmfanb said...

I want to say Bill Kenwright for K. Blood Brothers was nominated for six 6 awards in 1993 and won none.

aanjheni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lurky McLurkster said...

Mark Waldrop for K?

Poppymann said...

Mark Waldrop Director the 2017 DD awards

cheesegrater15 said...

Who's the writer who was murdered?

B said...

H- Liam Neeson?

MontanaMarriott said...

I take it these guys are still alive?

Bagel said...

It isn't Return to the Forbidden Planet. None of the clues fit the writer of it.

Don Kieballs said...

I was thinking of Something Rotten and the awards ceremony only broadway cares about is the Obies (not sure who directs it).

Wasn't Return to the Forbidden Planet a London production that happened to tour off Broadway? Wouldn't that make all the players London theater people, not Broadway people?

K could be Karey Kirkpatrick
H maybe Harold Prince, although I don't know how he ties in, but a major Bbroadway player for a long time

Bagel said...

Something Rotten won a Tony. The show in the blind won none.

PhyllisWhitweed said...

1) This kind of thing happens in every industry when enough money is involved. Money attracts psychopaths, and there's a lot of them out there.

2) Never do business with a psychopath, just cut and run. They will always fight dirtier and take shit you care about in the fight.

3) There is something important missing from the story, I'm guessing because it's only told from one side. If H only sent one email, and that email was short and not 10 pages long, that isn't harassment. There's something else there. Three parts in the show were offered to the couple's family in exchange for choosing H's side. If H were right all along and the couple really are mutual friends and not just acquaintances with H and K, offering the roles seems incredibly cheap and unseemly...like they couldn't get them on their own or that you need to offer them in exchange for support...all weird.

4) Give up the score, if K won't negotiate, raise funds to buy him out and get a new score. If funds can't be raised, then the project is terminally poisoned.

Lurky McLurkster said...

In this blind, the show has never even happened

Don Kieballs said...

Lurky - I was about to post the same thing. So this is a production that was workshopped (I assume in NYC)

I also just assume the actor who went on to win a Tony is NPH, based on nothing but that's the name I thought of

Shawn McGuire said...

Mandy Patinkin or whatever you spell it, he was always the go-to difficult one on Broadway. I got nothing else since I hate musicals. I’m not the gay stereotype and I’m proud of it.

Farmgirl said...

I think it could be the Obies for the awarda show

More Cowbell said...

K is Barry Keating? Play that had six Tony noms and won none is Starmites, 1989 Tonys.

Andrea said...

@ More Cowbell. I was just about to write the same thing. I can't find much about this Keating chap.

durhay said...

Messrs. K and H assure the public their production will be second to none

Drama said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beth E said...

K is Keating and H is Richard Haase - play is an adaptation of Pericles - https://books.google.com/books?id=Icl5nVcXxkUC&pg=PP2&lpg=PP2&dq=barry+keating+shakespeare&source=bl&ots=7AmlsJZ4qQ&sig=qkq9TH2BPWmC-SH-cIR7RTldZFw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjCrq29xpTZAhWiq1kKHWSKDTsQ6AEINzAD#v=onepage&q=barry%20keating%20shakespeare&f=false

Nurk said...

Keating: Tony nominations, check (“Starmites”); lyricist, composer, occasional performer, check; director of annual awards ceremony (Theatre World Awards), check; lesser-known Shakespeare play (“Pericles”), check; partner on play that never went to Broadway, Richard Haase.

ImmodestyBlaise said...

Bill Kenwright is British and married to a woman though.

gadfly said...

@More Cowbell - think you got it re: K. Barry Keating is composer/lyricist for Starmites which, though I never heard of it, apparently appeals to school productions. From Wiki:

Currently, there are three versions of Starmites available through Samuel-French for amateur and professional performance: Starmites Lite, a junior version of Starmites, intended for grade school and middle school performances; Starmites High School; and Starmites Pro, intended for professional-level performance.

pkelly491 said...

K is Barry Keating...his biggest show was Starmites the Musical, and he was the Director of the Theatre World AWards from 2006 - 2012, per his LinkedIn page.

H is Richard Haase...he was working with Keating on a musical version of Shakespeare's Pericles going back to the Early 90s. Per his facebook he is a widower.

More Cowbell said...

Good job on linking Keating to Pericles and Richard Haase!

jes7o said...

More on Richard Haase: https://tw3entertainment.com/key-people-affiliates/richard-haase/

"He is the author and co-lyricist for the Broadway bound musical MILLENNIUM MAN,the workshop of which starred tony award winning best actor BILLY PORTER ( KINKY BOOTS ) "

jes7o said...

And this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkhTQPgbI6c

Andrea said...

Interesting.

http://gdelgiproducer.tumblr.com/post/80686475329/theater-writers-dont-let-this-happen-to-you

More Cowbell said...

Richard Haase, check, widower. From Haase's twitter:

"I am a writer director producer actively packaging academy award winners; adapting great literature; civil rights advocate; widowed father of two daughters; I am not like Harvey; and it makes my blood boil to be labeled that."

Sara, Making It Work said...

Well done, folks!

And BIIIGGGGG LOL @durhay

Violet said...

And and tonight Mr Kite is topping the bill

Indy Picker said...

More broadway blinds, enty! I love 'em!

Don Kieballs said...

Barry Keating's Starmite is a good fit for the 6 tony noms, but I can't find him as directing any awards shows (obies, tony's, Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, New York Drama Critics' Circle, Outer Critics Circle, etc)

The League is The Broadway League

rosie riveter said...

Well done!

Hanniam said...

I’m useless at Broadway blinds, but I wanted to chime in to thank the author of this post for joining forces with enty.

This has been a fascinating read all the way to the solution!

intrigued said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sign Name Below said...

Going to upvote @Tim's comment +10000000

Kno Won Uno said...

Good stuff!

xyzxyz33 said...

I'm with Phyllis Whitweed on this one.

Run don't walk away from the psychopath.

No matter how wonderful the project, people like K can destroy your life in ways you never dreamed.

The universe has been warning you for some time now. Pay attention and listen to those warnings.
I had a similar situation. The universe warned me, one of those warnings being a literal hurricane,
and I didn't listen. If I could go back in time, I wish that I did.

I would let go of the project and focus on new projects with like-minded people you respect and trust.

Once you emotionally let go, space will open up for beautiful things.

jessorella said...

I don’t know anything close to enough about theatre to make guesses, but I just wanted to say I really enjoyed reading this. Nice writing chops, mystery stage person!

Eyre Affair said...

In the April 2, 1999 issue of “People,” Richard Haase said he was planning to sue Miramar for millions because “Shakespeare in Love” used elements from his 1981 off-Broadway musical “Star Crossed Lovers.”

Eyre Affair said...

Meant MIRAMAX above

Violet said...

Starmites is VERY popular with school productions. Think that's it.

intrigued said...

@cheesegrater15, regarding the murder: the only one I can think of that fits is Jack Abbott, though he was ultimately convicted of manslaughter and the circumstances seem to have been fudged, perhaps deliberately.

Ellie said...

Seems that is correct: Barry Keating apparently "cowrote" Pericles (musical based on the Shakespeare play) with Richard Haase; Keating is president and director of the Theatre World Awards. As in the Who Cares awards.

Stephanie said...

Could be. I was in that show in high school, so it fits the “only got success on the high school scene” part.

Don Kieballs said...

I love theater and Broadway (although never got to see a show actually on Broadway, just touring productions). This makes me sad. Not because of this blind, but because I have NO idea who all the players are and I feel I wasted many years of Theater Nerd status by not knowing this.

I will dim my lights today in memory of the loss of my memory.

katsm0711 said...

Omg now they’re running pedophilia rings out of Broadway? Is nothing sacred??

Mark said...

I know nothing about Hollywood, and even less about Broadway. Is this Richard Haase for real?

https://twitter.com/richardhaase?lang=en

"right i am a turd; and you are a big intellectual; on the other hand im in nyc and nationally known writer director and you are in seattle and you write on a blog you and your mom read"

https://www.facebook.com/richard.haase.18

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Bubble said...

I find these Broadway blinds very fascinating too.

Kate K said...

Plus a million

AVG said...

Robbie Benson for the appealed-to star who was in coming of age films and let his "beastly" side out. His wife would fit, too.

Urthor said...

LOL @Tim so true, guessing Lloyd Weber for the barely successful playwright with no money

More Cowbell said...

Andrew McCarthy for the actor that was in coming of age films? His wife is an actress/director, and his daughter was in the Broadway cast of Matilida, so it works for offering his wife and daughter roles.

GoogleSleuth said...

Oh my god, you guys are fucking GOOD. Bravo!! 👏🏻

By the way, this Barry Keating guy had the weirdest side hustle ever...

http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/Barry_Keating

Dandie said...

http://www.playbill.com/article/inside-one-of-broadways-biggest-scandals-how-rebecca-the-musical-made-headlines-without-even-opening-yet-com-349362

Scandi Sanskrit said...

Well, ideally, you wouldn't do business with a psychopath/sociopath, Phyllis... But how are people to know when they're so good at pretending to be good? Sounds like H genuinly thought K was a good person.

I had an idea for a "lyricless musical" once. I got the idea after non-chalantly tweeting a pianist who'd just performed at a foreign embassy's cultural centre in the city I lived in. So what I did was, I blogged about in semi-detail on my website (as a kind of "poor girl's copyright move that I heard about in law school). Time-stamped and everything. I did this because I knew there was a person around me who was bad news (who I've never met before but I instictively knew he was bad news from the get go). The post time-stamped and everything (back-ed up as well). I even left low-key insinuations that as a condition, I didn't want the creep anywhere near the project.

That's why my heart sank when at the end of the blind item, the source says this disputed project started 20 years ago (which would've been 1998).

Thank you to the source/tipper for sharing this. I hope you guys get justice. The play sounds very interesting. 💛

Scandi Sanskrit said...

I don't know much about Andrew Lloyd Weber (since Broadway musicals are not my thing, and no-talking-or-singing ballets are more of my thing). But from the description, K sounds pathetic and AFAIK, ALW is not pathetic.

And I learned a new English word from this post: Wunderkind (thank you, contributor). 💛

Scandi Sanskrit said...

More Cowbell! Please tell me your name is a reference to that SNL skit. Please. 😂😂😂😂

Scandi Sanskrit said...

Bingo.

Scandi Sanskrit said...

+100000000

Yes, but as I just said to Phyllis, you can't blame a person for falling for it. Psychopaths/sociopaths are so good at pretending to be good people. H sounds like he honestly thought K was a good person.

But, yes: ALWAYS TRUST YOUR GUT ALSO.

Scandi Sanskrit said...

Awesome. Muppets as a side-hustle! The other day, the Instagram account posted a group chat between characters. Janice said she'd attend Scooter's Super Bowl party in her astral form and Animal wanted to bring some Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders. 🖤

Scandi Sanskrit said...

Woah. 1999 was 19 years ago (this dispute started 20 years ago).

Don Kieballs said...

Krolock (codename) for the story teller and negotiator - cut and paste (alt guess if not G, the JA, but I say G)


H is Richard Haase. He is a family man, widower, and has 2 sick children (one autistic and one with a degenerative kidney disease), and an 82 year old mother recovering from a broken hip (as of 2010)

K is Barry Keating, his co-writter on the musical version of Shakespeare's Pericles.

? Actor who workshopped Pericles and went on to be a Tony Winner/Nom

? Mutual friend (wife of former up and coming film star)

Speech_teacher said...

Love it!!!!!! Please more Broadway.

Don Kieballs said...

Rebecca was a good fit too, except not a shakespear musical. And I assume K would be Michael Kunze, who wasn't nominated for any Tony's, but got many other awards. and H, maybe Christopher Hampton, won 2 Tonys. Although a very interesting, and sad for the cast/crew, story. They had fraud issues stemming from fake investors (definitely something that could ruin you on broadway and almost anywhere else, but wall street)

Scandi Sanskrit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scandi Sanskrit said...

Beth, the link you provided says, "He specializes in understanding how the not-for-profit organization functions, and how it responds to changes in incentives, changes in revenues and cost conditions, and changes in regulatory mechanisms."

He's a professor of economics? I mean I can understand how someone with a background in finance and accustomed to City life would end up like K, but it makes me so paranoid that we might be getting this Keating confused with another innocent Keating who had nothing to do with anything...

I mean I get that people moonlight, but this is worlds apart. Could it be that Google Books messed up their code or something and clumped two authors up?

More Cowbell said...

@Scandi Sanskrit,
Yes More Cowbell is definitely a reference to the SNL skit. One of my favorites! I even have a T-shirt!

More Cowbell said...

From someone above, I thought of Matthew Broderick for the coming-of-age actor, too, but I don't the writer would omit his wife being famous. Plus, I don't think their twin girls act (yet!). I'm sticking with the Andrew McCarthy guess. :)

intrigued said...

@Don - since I can't PM you, I'll put my words here as one who knows the score: too clever by far. If you spotted the comment I deleted, you even got the storyteller correct, which frankly scares me a little, if he's that easily recognized. For the parts you're missing, see jes7o and AVG, who seem to have sussed out those bits.

Kel said...

He directed penn and tellers first stage show

Sign Name Below said...

True Beatles fans!

Sign Name Below said...

@AVG
I agree

Sign Name Below said...

@DonKiebells
According to @intrigued, the missing pieces are:

Billy Porter for future big star who did the workshop and went on to be a Tony winner

Karla DeVito for the mutual friend/wife of coming-of-age actor (Robby Benson)

Sign Name Below said...

Bravo @jes7o

Court b said...

Where's Rosie O'Donnell the one time we need her?

Court b said...

I don't know why, but I find him so sexy on Homeland,I'm half his age, he's not my type, but I dig him!Homeland starts up again next week, I'm so excited ;)

Court b said...

Went to school with a producer on kinky boots, he's buddy's with Perez Hilton, lives in malibu

Countervail said...

I found some recordings of "Millenium Man," the musical in question. I could be wrong but is this a young Heather Headley singing one of the roles? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkhTQPgbI6c

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