Mack fights back

Brit producer debunks Smith's claims

Press reps for Brit legit producer Cameron Mackintosh laid into Liz Smith last week after Smith’s Sept. 20 column accused the producer of “using the World Trade Center horror as an excuse to cut costs.”

In a two-page press release, Mackintosh’s U.S. rep Marc Thibodeau pointed out numerous inaccuracies in Smith’s report.

Smith had maintained that Mackintosh was seeking union concessions of 70% on his shows; the figure was in fact 30%. The 70% figure was erroneously reported Sept. 18 in the New York Post and corrected the following day.

Smith also accused Mackintosh of setting “theater’s new lows in salaries when he first financed ‘Cats.’ ” Mackintosh was not involved in the financing of that production on Broadway.

“Ms. Smith asserts that the actress Frances Ruffelle made $750 a week for ‘Les Miserables’ in 1987,” the release continued. “This is untrue; she was paid nearly three times that amount.”

And in conclusion: “To say that talk of the great distress that New York’s theatrical industry now finds itself in — a situation that will impact many industries beyond the theater — as mere ‘hyperbole’ is an insult to all who work in the industry. It is the most damaging of all of the erroneous statements made in Ms. Smith’s column.”

There was no response from Smith, who is known to use assistants to compile her column. In fact, Thibodeau obtained a letter sent to the Assn. of Theatrical Press Agents & Managers on the day before the column ran that contains much of the same language. It was signed by Diane Judge, one of Smith’s writers.

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