Noises Off

NEW YORK — It could be a long, hot summer on Broadway — whatever the thermostat says.

Actors’ Equity’s contract with the League of American Theaters and Producers expires in late June, and a confrontation is already cooking.

In an early sign of contention, the union has slapped the wrist of one of Broadway’s big-three theater owners.

Those orgs — the Shuberts, Nederlanders and Jujamcyn — have long enjoyed a privilege not extended other producers. Until now, the union has not forced the mighty triumvirate to post a bond that guarantees two weeks’ salary and benefits for actors. (For a large-scale musical, that sum can top $250,000.) Instead, the big three have simply filed a letter of guarantee for their respective productions.

The Shuberts and Jujamcyn still enjoy the privilege, but no longer do the Nederlanders.

According to sources at Equity, the theater org had to put up a bond in form of a letter of credit for their production of “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Why the slap?

Equity doesn’t like the Nederlanders’ 10% interest in Troika, which produces non-Equity shows on the road.

‘TABOO’ TATTLE
Recording an absence

Boy George is going silently, if not quietly.

His first Broadway musical, “Taboo,” closes Feb. 8, representing a $12 million loss for its producer Rosie O’Donnell. Boy George (a.k.a. George O’Dowd) not only starred, he wrote the score for the tuner, based on his life story.

So why should such a major creative force in the theater be expected to show up Monday for the cast-album recording session?

“It’s 7 p.m. and he’s still not here,” one miffed company member reported.

Some people obviously expected the boy to record along with the rest of the cast.

A spokesperson for “Taboo” spun a slightly different tale, saying that Boy George’s tracks were always skedded to be recorded another day.

Which isn’t quite the Broadway way.

STAR IN MOTION
Schreiber’s ‘Unseen’ exit

At first it sounded like just another movie star had pulled out of another Broadway play: “Liev Schreiber has withdrawn from Donald Margulies‘ ‘Sight Unseen’ due to “a change of schedule on a prior commitment.”

Some Ben Affleck action movie? Hardly. Schreiber had warned Manhattan Theater Club financing might come together on a pet project: his film version of Jonathan Safran Foer‘s “Everything Is Illuminated,” which he had optioned.

Unfortunately for MTC, the money came together. Fortunately for Schreiber, he now gets to direct his adaptation of the Holocaust novel.

CRIX’ CORNER
No change for ‘Caroline’

The Broadway producers of “Caroline, or Change” have wisely positioned the show’s preview period (April 13-May 1) right after the Pulitzer Prize announcement April 5 and before Tony Award noms May 10.

But what will they do about the New York Times review?

Ben Brantley didn’t much like the show Off Broadway at the Public last fall. So the big question is how he’ll handle the upcoming Broadway incarnation, set to open May 2.

“Caroline” producers may have been hoping he would pass the job to his new second stringer, Margo Jefferson.

But Jefferson weighed in last week with a negative assessment in a critic’s notebook piece, writing the Tony Kushner/Jeanine Tesori tuner was “not a great leap forward in musical or political theater.”

BIZ BUZZ
Agency signings

Yasmina Reza takes her first U.S. agent. Playwright has signed with the Gersh Agency. Her Euro agents are Marie Cecile Renaud in Paris and Nick Harris at A.P. Watt in London. Reza’s “Une Piece Espagnole,” opens Feb. 28 in Paris. Kristin Chenoweth goes to CAA. Faith Prince signs with Bauman, Redanty & Shaul.

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