The Playgoer: How the Grinch Stole Thanksgiving

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

How the Grinch Stole Thanksgiving

...from the League of American Theatres and Producers, that is.

While some (me included!) were hastily declaring the Grinch producers had no right to settle privately with the stagehands union and re-open without permission of their theatre owners, the Jujamcyns...A NY State Surpreme Court judge(!) has ruled otherwise.

Breaking news from New York 1:

"I'm going to grant the injunction,” state Supreme Court Justice Helen Freedman said Wednesday. "I think one Grinch in town in enough."

A sense of humor, Your Honor.

Well, the League isn't laughing. Not only is the break in ranks bad pr, but the little green goblin is about to run off with a bunch of the Thanksgiving holiday stash! There being little competition and all...

Turned out the Grinch's ace in the hole was not just the argument that they were uniquely affected due to their announced limited holiday-season run. Ironically it was that crazy 12-15 performance/week union exemption contract the show negotiated back in 2006! Thanks to that, they were able to claim separate party status, or something.

The key, of course, was that the union agreed to treat the Grinch differently. (Just like the Disney and nonprofit theatres.) Which was smart pr on their part.

What this decision means for the union is leverage. It's a war of attrition now, and the union just proved they can wait it out longer, especially now that a few less tourists will be accusing them of ruining their family show experience. And the producers' losses just theoretically increase every time their potential customers buy a consolation ticket to The Grinch.

Such leverage is important going into a weekend when the two sides were supposed to meet on Sunday. That was the plan, at least, until Riedel reported today that the League was sending signals they have nothing to talk about unless the union is willing to settle. I imagine the union feels a little less pressure now. We'll see if the League decides to show up Sunday after all.

In other news, the Nederlanders--remember them? the theatre owners/producers who technically have a separate contract with the stagehands and thus originally signalled they might not be a party to the strike but then were?--the same Nederlanders are suing, yes suing Local 1 stagehands union. For $35 mil of damages in lost ticket sales. Total bluff, if you ask me.

The Jujamcyns said they're appealing the injunction decision by the way. Of course they won't get a hearing until next week--after Grinchey rakes in a bucketload this weekend.

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