Variety's Robert Hofler laments the diminished status of the once mighty Broadway opening night party ritual.
Even Carrie Fisher--Carrie Fisher!--refused interviews and photographers!
Nowadays, there isn't even a few thousand dollars' worth of publicity, much less a million, to be had from a Broadway opening-night party, most of which feature only two reporters (Variety's and Playbill.com's), three video cams (NY-1, Broadway.com, Broadway Beat) and a gaggle of photogs. The New York Times dropped its Bold Faces column years ago, and the New York Post and the Daily News rarely send reporters to legit events anymore.
"Over the years there's been a diminishment in the press exposure that an opening-night party generates," says producer Jeffrey Richards, who has two new shows ("Superior Donuts," "Race") on Broadway this fall. "It's hardly commensurate with the increased cost of some of these parties."
A sitdown dinner at Tavern on the Green or a big hotel ballroom can easily run $75,000 and up. Most fetes these days feature a sampling of canapes at a cost of about $25,000. (For his recent "Donuts" fete, Richards served sushi in memory of his Jeremy Piven-"Speed-the-Plow" contretemps from the previous season.)
Unless there's a major movie star present onstage or on the red carpet, producers can't count on national coverage. But there's the rub. Movie people don't do press. Not on Broadway. Not anymore. Although there was a full dinner at the glitzy Gotham Hall for the recent "Hamlet" preem party, Jude Law eschewed all interviews.
Most pithy sign of the times?
"Now you look around at a party and no one is looking up," says uberpublicist Chris Boneau. "They're all staring at their handheld device when they should be drinking. Reading the reviews in a newspaper was actually more fun. Reading it off a BlackBerry is work."
Heck, why wait for the party. I've seen publicists and creative team alike skimming the reviews mid-show from their seats.