“Goodbye, Old Girl”
Ladies and gents,
My dear friend Rick Miramontez is up in arms about a recent Wall Street Journal article written by Joanne Kaufman, and, as the Journal rejected his letter to the editor, I'm (in the style of my good friend Cindy Adams) throwing him a bone by running it here in its entirety. Rick, take it away…
Those of us who happen to love theater and happen to live in New York City are lucky enough to have access to the greatest stage scene in the world. I have been representing plays and musicals for more than three decades, and in my role as press agent I have handed out tens-of-thousands of free tickets to members of the media. While the general public plunks down hard-earned money for the pleasure and privilege of witnessing the world’s greatest stage talents flaunt their craft on Broadway, members of the press corps are traditionally given pairs of “press tickets,” gratis. The face value that any given production gives away to the media during designated press performances around the time of its opening is somewhere in the vicinity of $200,000. The hope, of course, is that those free tickets will yield coverage, and that coverage will convince the general public to plunk down said hard-earned money. But there is no agreement, tacit or otherwise, between the productions I represent and the members of the media I invite that coverage will be forthcoming. There is, however, a tacit agreement that these works will be considered, thoughtfully and seriously, in their entirety by those who accept the tickets.
So when your columnist, Joanne Kaufman, penned her piece entitled “Confessions of a Broadway Bolter,” in which she boasts about the sheer number of times she skips out of the theater at intermission (trying, she tells us, not to get “spotted and caught out by the press agent who provided me with the tickets in the first place”) I couldn’t help but feel a bit like a chump for having accommodated the woman so many times over the years. Certainly every audience member, paid or comped, has the right to form whatever opinions they might about any production they see, but I don’t think it’s too much to expect those who attend on press tickets stay for the duration. Would a fine art writer only peer at half a canvas before deciding she’s bored and it’s time to move on? Does a music reporter think he can make an informed decision on an album if he only listens to a couple of tracks? Why would we accept such sheer laziness from our theatrical press?
“Joltin’ Joanne” Kaufman makes it sound like an unbearable hardship to have to sit through the entirety of a Broadway show. As the overwhelming majority of her colleagues manage to sit through (and often rave about) the very shows she bolts from, I have to think that this is less a reflection of the quality of the works and simply indicative of a woman who loathes the art form. It seems to me that a theater reporter who hates theater would be well served to find another beat.
Well, let me be the first of what I hope will be many press agents to unburden Joltin’ Joanne from her hardship. She will never be invited to another show by my office. If she deems a show of ours worthy enough for her (fleeting) attention, she is more than welcome to call us to arrange tickets — but she had better have a credit card handy.
President, O&M Co.