REDONDO BEACH, CA -- The behind-the-scenes battle at the Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities, the dominant musical theatre production company in the southwestern section of Los Angeles County, has led to the firing of artistic director Irv Kimber.
Kimber, who co-founded the group in 1991, said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that he was terminated on orders from the group's executive producer and fellow co-founder, James Blackman, though he wasn't sure why.
Blackman, on the other hand, blamed the firing on Kerner's expensive tastes.
When he's planning budgets for individual shows, Blackman contended, "Irv flies in a $300,000 to $320,000 stratosphere. We are a $225,000 to $250,000 company . . . He's a B-1 bomber."
"No one ever said a word to me about that," said Kimber after hearing Blackman's explanation. "No reason was given in the separation agreement." The L.A. Times story quoted David Serena, an attorney who recently resigned from a two-year stint on the executive board, who defended Kimber, saying he was always willing to be flexible when the board made specific requests for cutbacks.
"The final cost of the show was always less than the approved budget," Serena said.
Serena said he had tried unsuccessfully to patch up the differences between Blackman and Kimber.
"James wouldn't talk to Irv for the last year and a half except through me," he said. "And when he talked to me about Irv, it was only in derogatory terms."
The nonprofit Civic Light Opera has a $580,000 deficit, down from a high point of $1.8 million.
Blackman said that the company would cut more corners in the future to save money. "Businesses that are successful are run as dictatorships, not as democracies," he said. "I will be in charge of quality control."
-- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent