Friday, November 27, 2009

A PIECE OF WORK AND A DAY THAT PERKS





Well, today, dear friends is good "Black Friday", the busiest shopping day in all of the world. Retailers depend on this day as a make or break day in their retail sales success or failure. For years, I weathered these awful days behind a cash register. Today, I will watch it from a new perspective-- at a car dealership as a car salesman/ referral specialist. It should be interesting. Today is also the birthday of the dear "abominable showman", himself David Merrick. Now here was a piece of work that simply had no equal in Broadway history. Dear old, now departed old David was known for his love of publicity stunts. One of his most famous promoted the poorly-reviewed 1961 musical Subways Are For Sleeping. Now here was a musical that simply had nothing going for it. It simply didn't pass the standard "who cares" test. Now David knew this musical was in deep financial trouble and so to boost attendance Merrick found seven New Yorkers who had the same names as the city's seven leading theater critics: Howard Taubman, Walter Kerr, John Chapman, John McClain, Richard Watts, Jr., Norman Nadel, and Robert Coleman. Merrick invited the seven namesakes to the musical and secured their permission to use their names and pictures in an advertisement alongside quotes such as "One of the few great musical comedies of the last thirty years" and "A fabulous musical. I love it." Dear David Merrick then prepared a newspaper ad featuring the namesakes' rave reviews under the heading 7 Out of 7 Are Ecstatically Unanimous About Subways Are For Sleeping. Only one newspaper, the New York Herald Tribune, published the ad, and only in one edition; however, the publicity that the ad garnered helped the musical remain open for 205 performances (almost six months). Merrick later revealed that he had conceived the ad several years previously, but had not been able to execute it until Brooks Atkinson retired as the New York Times theater critic in 1960 since he could not find anyone with the same name On the morning of August 25, 1980, Gower Champion died of a rare blood cancer. Merrick kept his death a secret so he could announce it himself at the opening-night curtain call for 42nd Street, which he had produced and Champion had directed. Merrick suffered a stroke in 1983, which confined him to a wheelchair. He established the David Merrick Arts Foundation in 1998 to support the development of American musicals. Merrick was married six times, to Lenore Beck, Jeanne Gibson, Etan Aronson (twice), Karen Prunczik, and Natalie Lloyd. He was married to Lloyd at the time of his death in London; all of his previous marriages had ended in divorce. But these are but two of the grand stories about him. I also would like to recommend a movie playing for the holidays. It's the Jim Carey version of "A Christmas Carol" -- See it in 3D. Carey is absolutely brilliant playing Scrooge and all three ghosts of Christmas, past, present and yet to come. I am now convinced that dear Jim Carey can play just about anything. Of course, I have always loved the Charles Dickens story-- it is an absolute classic. I had a nice dinner with my sister this year-- her turkey dinner was absolutely delicious.

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