Unions take cuts, B’way unveils plan

Different shows have different economic concerns, sez league prexy

NEW YORK — Several legit unions and guilds have followed the lead of the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and accepted 25% pay cuts, including royalties, for four weeks, to help keep five Broadway musicals — “Rent,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Chicago,” “Les Miserables” and “The Full Monty” — on the boards.

This second round of concessions came from Actors Equity, the American Federation of Musicians Local 802 and the Society of Stage Directors & Choreographers.

After IATSE’s initial announcement (Daily Variety, Sept. 20), legit observers openly speculated: Why those five shows?

“These are the five producers who came to us initially,” Equity prexy Patrick Quinn explained at a press conference on Thursday.

“Rent” producer Kevin McCollum added, “We are all long-running shows that have a brand name that relies heavily on tourists.” McCollum banded together with Alan Wasser, a Cameron Mackintosh rep (“Les Miserables,” “The Phantom of the Opera”); Lindsay Law (“The Full Monty”); Barry Weissler (“Chicago”); and Jeffrey Seller (“Rent”) to carve out the deal with the unions.

Those producers are all members of the League of American Theaters and Producers. Why did the legit trade org not present a united front to the unions?

“Different shows have different economic concerns,” league prexy Jed Bernstein said at the press conference.

That is news to some of the league’s members.

“The Dodgers believed that the league was approaching labor as a group effort,” Dodgers spokesman Adrian Bryan-Brown said. “Since the announcement of the concession to those five shows, they have petitioned for the same concessions for their Broadway productions: “42nd Street,” “Urinetown” and “The Music Man.”

Alan Eisenberg, exec director of Equity, denied that the Dodgers were in a poor negotiating position with the thesp union after having licensed a non-Equity tour of “The Music Man.” “We’re not going to put actors out of work because we’ve (had differences) with a producer,” he said.

Other shows currently asking for concessions are “Hedda Gabler,” “Proof” and “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife.”

“I stand by my statement this afternoon,” said Bernstein. “We never went forward to negotiate a group solution. We did fact-finding, and we made a generic case (to the unions) about the difficulties these shows were having, developing data, whatever they needed. The individual shows took it upon themselves (to negotiate). We absolutely never attended a negotiating session, neither myself nor Harriet Slaughter,” he said of the league’s head of labor relations. “We will continue to do the same for other shows. It will be hard for the unions to refuse the other shows.”

Weissler added, “I would assume that what we have gained from these wonderful union members will not be closed to (other shows). I assume they will be given the same help.”

Blurbs bow

On Wednesday, Christyne Lategano-Nicholas, president-CEO of NYC & Co., held a press conference to kick off the city’s “I Love N.Y. Theater” campaign.

A TV commercial promoting Broadway is in the works, to air as soon as next week. “If you want to help New York City, come to a Broadway show,” she said. “The theater here supports a $3 billion economy.”

The New York Times has agreed to run, at no charge, one week of advertisement listings for all Broadway shows plus four full pages of ads for the new campaign.

Emergency measures

Downtown, the League of Off Broadway Theaters & Producers met Wednesday to discuss emergency measures. A 50% ticket discount program was approved.

“Everyone was white-knuckling it,” said Robyn Goodman, producer of “Tick, Tick … Boom” and “Bat Boy,” which posted a closing notice for Sept. 23. She said proposals were made to reduce performance schedules and receive possible 25% pay-cut concessions from the unions.

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