Monday, November 12, 2007

Day 2: The Terror Continues

Well, huh. I don't want to talk about the specific points on either side, but I of course will talk about some strike-related things. This is a difficult situation, with a decidedly different feel than the musicians strike had a few years back. You know, the thing about the Local 802 strike was that it didn't seem quite as bitter beforehand. Also, it didn't seem like it would last that long. So though picket lines are never fun, the musicians were seemingly more laid back, chatting with people who passed and talking to the press. From what I saw yesterday and today (and my experience is by no means comprehensive), Local One has closed ranks, giving the general public very terse responses ("read our statement" is a big one) and making it a policy not to talk to the press. And consequently there was a more ominous feel on the streets today than there was some years ago.

I want to share one from yesterday. Patrick Paige was one of the actors nicely singing to people outside the theater. I mean I honestly thought that was genuinely kind (some other actors did likewise at other theaters). Yet someone, with two children in toe, passed him and called out "You really are The Grinch!" Now, you could take that two ways, but, as she had unhappy children with her, I don't think she meant it to be complimentary.

The difference today as opposed to yesterday was that there were many more actors on the picket lines. Apparently there was some miscommunication yesterday as to whether they were supposed to full out picket, so some did and many didn't. A bunch yesterday were just standing around. Today, with the clarification that they were encouraged to picket, they snapped into the march. But, alas, there was also a harsher feel out there today, maybe owing to the tough-talking producer's press conference of yesterday or the primarily pro-producers media bent. (If you didn't know anything about the situation and simply saw tons of kids crying on the street--wouldn't you want those losing strikers to suck it up and go back to work?) Claffey is of course not bending and that toughness is seeping down.

I thought the unions came off well in their press conference today, but the producers had more catchy sound bites from their press conference. They said sexy random things like "we're paying them extra to mop!" Those are hard things to counter-act public perception wise. People don't usually feel bad for producers, but then you hear them saying the average Local One member gets paid like $150,000 and, though your heart may not bleed for the producers, you also, if you believe this figure is accurate, sort of think to yourself "why should they get more?" So, there you go on that media-related front.

I feel one thing that hasn't gotten enough attention is this refund policy. The big line is to go to an open show if your show was cancelled, but there is a problem with that. Because the only way to get an instant refund is if you paid by cash or check at a box office and happen to find that box office open, it leaves a lot of people with tied up funds. So if you have a credit card with a low maximum and you charged your tickets online, to the sum of over $600 for a family of five, you don't get credit for days. Then maybe you cannot afford to go to a new show now. I think this whole "Well, you can get tickets to these lovely open shows..." mentality is a little faulty at times.

So I had tickets to Duran Duran last night, tickets I had to call in some favors to get. As most of you know, Duran Duran was scheduled to end their Broadway engagement this Tuesday. They have moved all their remaining shows now to Roseland, which, well, is certainly not the Barrymore. And while they are honoring tickets for last night at Monday and Tuesdays Roseland shows, it's not going to be the same. So I know the feeling a little bit--though certainly not to the same degree--of the family who is in town for two days and has tickets to see The Little Mermaid and cannot see it. (Let me say again how excited I am to see The Little Mermaid--I have a Little Mermaid calender and everything--and I'm not joking--so I do completely understand the tears a family shed over missing Mermaid, while I did not cry for Duran Duran.)

But this raises an issue beyond my lost Saturday night plans--what about Duran Duran's equipment?!?! Is it stuck in the Barrymore? Even if non-Local One people could get into the theater, it seems to me they can't move the equipment, as that is a Local One job. Now I guess they have backup equipment, but the stuff they were using at the Barrymore must be the cream of the crop. Did they remove it Friday knowing of the strike? It seems hard to believe... I mean, it's one thing to take your personal belongings outside a theater, it's another thing to convince stagehands the night before a strike they want to move equipment out... I don't know the answer to this, but I raise it as a curious point.

Also curiously, I got yelled at today on the street by someone who didn't like something I wrote on this blog. Ummm... People need to stop taking things so seriously. Let me issue a general disclaimer, this blog represents my musings. It's generally written after midnight, which means it is especially free-flowing. On the blog, I say what I am thinking at the moment, but it's not intended to be a declaration of fact. That doesn't mean I don't stand behind it all, I do. It just means I don't think anyone out there should be taking it that seriously. (You know, this is why for like my first year in this industry I didn't like to meet people. My theory was, if no one knew what I looked liked, there would be no public animosity... and I could spy better. I think Michael Borowski was the only one to meet me for like a-year-and-a-half. That was okay because he knew I loved him and thus he would never snap at me.)

Ugh--this strike ruined my planned post about how I think Rock 'n Roll is being given such a brilliantly staged production. (Now that I know people are taking this blog so seriously, it might have been nice to one of my favorite press agents had I been able to write that, but, alas.) I will just end with two more things. First, I rarely promote things written or created by people I know. But, I can, and so I will this time. For those of you who are Fire Island Pines people, I want to promote this documentary, When Ocean Meets Sky, available on It is an interesting documentary on the history of the Pines and it features a bunch of theater people, including Mart Crowley, Jerry Herman, Larry Kramer and Sara Ramirez.

Secondly, I want to send my heartfelt sympathy to anyone adversely affected by this strike and to the people who are covering it. Strikes are sometimes necessary, but they always suck.

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