“WHAT DOES IT PROFIT?”
Ladies and gents,
Today’s column marks the end of two eras on Broadway:
First, the Joe Allen house account is now officially a thing of the past. The retro-suave move of signing your check with the swipe of a #2 pencil delivered from behind a server’s ear will soon fade from the memory like the many flops represented on the saloon’s walls. The analogue tradition started in the mid-60’s, way back before credit cards were invented, and survived into the modern age largely thanks to the clubby culture of the Broadway community. The gesture separated the true insiders from the interlopers, and — let’s face it — allowed theatricals without a steady source of income what Joe himself called “a nourishment insurance policy” when things got tight. In the old days, a classic holiday gesture would be to pay off somebody’s balance if the debtor had fallen on hard times. Joel Grey was well known for getting more than one such patron out of hock— a gesture he would usually bestow on the last night of Chanukah. I’m told that all the old books have been archived, and the list of account-holders is staggering (especially at the now defunct Beverly Hills outpost, where Marlon Brando’s account remains open, if inactive). I suggest a donation to the Smithsonian, where they can be preserved for posterity to look upon as a relic from a simpler time.
And, finally, one of Broadway’s biggest cheerleaders, Kathie Lee Gifford, leaves her post at “The Today Show” today. Her regular outings to Broadway matinees, alongside Hoda Kotb, became a reliable and coveted coup on any press agent’s weekly client update. If she hated a show, she stayed mum. If she loved one, she’d champion it endlessly. Even after the community failed to embrace her own show, Scandalous, she remained an upbeat and steadfast fan. Her daily on-air presence will be missed!
Tidbits from around town…
Spotted MSNBC host and former Republican strategist Nicole Wallace at the over-the-top-in-all-the-right-ways celebration for the new Hermes store in the Meatpacking District.
Overheard David Rockwell chatting with Jonathan Tisch at the dedication ceremony for The Shed.
Caught Billy Bob Thornton, or a doppelgänger, buying nine giant bags of bulk almonds at Whole Foods Chelsea.
As always, a toast of something sparkling to you and yours!