Sunday, December 23, 2007

Seasonal-Type Greetings

-Once again, I have cause to brag and am proud to announce that son Stewart has been chosen from a large field of contenders to a lead role in a west-coast theatrical production. The two-person musical, Thrill Me-The Leopold and Loeb Story, will have its Los Angeles premiere and be presented by the Havoc Theatre Company at the Hudson Backstage Theatre January 26th through March 2nd. This theatre is somewhat known for being the place where My Big Fat Greek Wedding was viewed by Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks and where they decided to turn the play into a movie. Thrill Me is based on the true story of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, the notorious "thrill killers" of 1924 Chicago. A musical adaptation of this very weird and dark real-life story would not seem to work. But the show was nominated for Drama Desk and Outer Critics best musical awards in 2006. Stewart will portray Nathan, and be joined on stage by Alex Schemmer as Richard. To just be a working actor in the Hollywood/Los Angeles market has us tremendously excited for Stew's future. Details available at

-Lately, I've heard a lot of talk about the poor atmosphere at the Edward Jones Dome for Rams games. Back when the team was winning, it wasn't nearly such a problem. But as someone who is part of the game-night experience at Blues games, let me offer a few thoughts. First and foremost, in order for there to be a great presentation, there has to be someone in the Rams organization who devotes full time to making sure that happens. The Blues have such a person, I don't know if the Rams do. That person must understand everything about putting on a great show and be in control of those things during each game. The ingredients?... Light, sound, music, video, scripting, timing, sports energy, the venue, personnel, and the basic format presented by the sport itself. In a dome, you are presented with a climate-controlled environment which should make it easier to make a consistent presentation. The colliseum configuration is different than a theatre, but shouldn't present a much greater logistical challenge. Having a prepared and rehearsed format in what amounts to an extra-large theatre should be rather easy to organize. The prepared script is a generic gameplan that can be altered in order to react effectively to a given moment, exciting or otherwise, in the game itself. The video and music elements should be ready to go at a moment's notice depending on the situation. Uprading the various ingredients of the presentation is really a matter of choosing the right people, understanding the sport, and coaching those people to perform effectively. The cavernous, overgrown warehouse nature of the dome itself is a problem that can only be dealt with by physical changes like video screen, audio system and soundproofing upgrades. I think a major part of the problem is that when p.a.-announcer Jim Holder says rattles around and echoes in the rafters giving the impression that the place is empty even when it's full. Technical upgrades require expenditures on the part of the city. But that will only happen if someone with the Rams understands the problems in the first place. I don't think you can say that the game atmosphere will be fixed with a better on-field product. Of course, that would help. But creating an enjoyable presentation around the matter how achievable, and certainly should be expected by Rams fans considering what they pay for tickets. If being at a Rams game were simply more fun (i.e. the Blues) fewer ticket-holders would be inclined to sell off their tickets to out-of-towners.

-Rams Part 2... I understand that the half-time ceremony to honor Marshall Faulk at Thursday's game was less than impressive. Even Bob Costas' hosting appparently couldn't save it from appearing to be a slapped-together production. If I've learned anything over the past ten years, it's that to do a sports ceremony properly in this town you had better have Jim Woodcock involved. Woody is a Senior VP at Fleishman-Hillard these days and works with the Blues and Cardinals on their ceremonial stuff. He, of course, was Director of Communications and Marketing with the Blues for several years before the lockout. If there's someone else in town that has Woody's understanding of our market, its sports fans, and how to communicate effectively in a live, on-field/ice presentation, I haven't met him. Rams management--next time call Woodcock.

-Dare I say Merry Christmas for fear of someone being offended? Yes, I dare say Merry Christmas...and do say Merry Christmas. There are many reasons why one of another belief should not be offended by such a well-meaning wish. If someone choses to be offended by that, God help them... (also politically incorrect). Merry Cristmas no matter how you may observe it, or not.

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