Paper trail, photos lost at B’way Digital

Facility, research on rights to air legit classics destroyed

“The good news is these theater masterpieces are safe in Vermont!”

The bad news, according to Basil Hero, is that Broadway Digital Entertainment’s offices at 30 W. Broadway have been destroyed, and along with them the research to rights clearances on 150 historic primetime broadcasts of such legit classics as “The Iceman Cometh” (1960), with Jason Robards and Robert Redford; “King Lear” (1974), with James Earl Jones and Raul Julia; “A Moon for the Misbegotten” (1975), with Robards and Colleen Dewhurst; and “The Death of a Salesman” (1966), with Lee J. Cobb and Mildred Dunnock.

The building, which has been condemned, stood next to the now-leveled No. 7 World Trade Center. Hero, who was in his office at the time of the terrorist attacks, said the 14th floor housing Broadway Digital Entertainment collapsed when the neighboring No. 7 WTC fell.

“Years of research with estates, authors, unions and actors — the paper trail, the entire clearance process of hunting down the rights to programs — has gone up in smoke,” said Hero, president and CEO of Broadway Digital. “This represents the loss of thousands of hours of work that has gone into being able to rebroadcast these shows again.”

Trio, a digital cable and satellite TV channel owned by USA Networks, is scheduled to broadcast “Death of a Salesman” on Sept. 30. The 1966 CBS broadcast has not been seen on television since 1973.

Some aired, upcoming unaffected, but …

Eighty-five titles are available for purchase through BDE’s Broadway Theater Archives, with 65 more to be released. Several of these legit tapings have already aired on Digital Classics in the U.K. and Book TV in Canada. Trio kicks off its series with “Salesman,” and PBS will rebroadcast several shows beginning in January. These broadcasts have not be affected, Hero said.

“However, detailed sales info has been lost,” he noted, referring to those records necessary to cut checks for residuals owed to estates, artists and unions. Marketing materials for an upcoming presentation at Mip in Cannes also were destroyed.

BDE is operating out of the offices of the Nederlander Digital Prods., a principal investor in the legit video company. The New York City Investment Fund, another investor, is assisting BDE in its search for new permanent office space.

Masters unharmed, photos destroyed

Hero reiterated that the master copies of BDE’s archives are safe at Resolution, a duplication facility in South Burlington, Vt. “I never felt safe having them stored here, next to the World Trade Center,” he said.

Less fortunate were more than 30,000 historic theater photographs that BDE purchased from In Theatre when that magazine recently ceased publication. “It’s a tragedy. Almost 40 years of precious theater photographs are lost,” he said.

As for reconstructing the paper trail of rights clearance, Hero said that Lance Spiro, the company’s labor negotiator, was already at work on the problem. “He has a lot of this information in his head. Now we have to go through 150 programs to mentally put it all back together.”

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