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‘Springer’ tuner spawns more B’way drama

Yakker opera finds financial problems

“Jerry Springer — The Opera” continues to spawn nearly as much drama as the TV show itself.

Originally scheduled for an autumn 2005 Broadway premiere, the show ran into financing problems when producers wrangled over its budget. Producer Jon Thoday wanted to bring it to New York for about $12 million, and producer Allan McKeown envisioned a smaller show, around $7.5 million.

This week, an article in London’s Independent reported that the Broadway venture is off completely.

Not so, said a Thoday statement: “We are looking to complete the finance process over the next six months and are planning a Broadway opening in the first half of 2006.”

According to the Independent, the problem was a right-wing religious group and not McKeown. The London newspaper reported Christian Voice had pressured a “cancer charity into rejecting proceeds from a gala performance of the show in London.” As a result of the protest, one theater reportedly had withdrawn from the U.K. tour of “Jerry Springer” and an investor in the Broadway production had pulled out. The Independent quoted Thoday: “At the moment it’s off … because of the furor.”

Through a New York-based spokesman, Thoday issued a response to the Independent article: “While the widely covered but small-scale religious protests in the U.K. surrounding ‘Jerry Springer — The Opera’ have not been helpful in the completion of raising the capital for the Broadway production, they have by no means brought an end to our New York plans.”

When Thoday finishes with the Christian Voice problem, he may have to deal with the old McKeown challenge.

“At its currently envisioned scale, the show won’t work here,” McKeown told Daily Variety. “The London production, which has closed, cost £2.75 million and lost 90% of its capitalization.”

McKeown believes a Broadway production capitalized at $7.5 million, not $11 millon-$12 million, can be profitable. “Until we reach an agreement with all the parties, we’re at a stalemate,” he said.

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