Rent at the Democratic Convention
Rent cast members have accepted the nomination ... to sing at the opening night of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
Monday night (August 26) - the show's one night off of the week - all 15 cast members will perform an extended version of the inevitable "Seasons of Love" in front of 20,000 convention delegates and press members. The live appearance is tentatively scheduled to conclude that evening's proceedings at approximately 11 PM (ET). Instead of sporting the production's colorful and gender-bending regalia, cast members will perform in casual street clothes, much as they did in their appearance on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" in July.
Despite saturation television coverage of the convention, home viewers may have difficulty seeing the Rent performance. Our survey of national news organizations indicates that as the evening's political proceedings wind down, the broadcasts will cut away from entertainment segments to commentary or commercials. According to NBC News publicist Rich Latour, "one issue is time constraints, as we need to wrap up coverage by 11 PM (ET)". Meanwhile, another network's news representative indicated that the Rent performance isn't newsworthy enough to merit coverage.
So what's a Rent-hungry fan to do? One alternative may be to tune into C-SPAN, which typically offers commentary-light coverage and of course, no commercials.
As most musical fans know by now, the much-ballyhooed Rent cast recording will be released this Tuesday, August 27. The 2-CD set, easily the most anticipated cast recording in years, will feature nearly the entire score as well as a bonus track of Stevie Wonder singing "Seasons of Love".
New York's Virgin Megastore in Times Square will, as is customary for major releases, make the recording available at midnight Monday evening and stay open beyond its usual 1 AM closing if demand warrants. And will it? According to an employee in the store's processing department, "response is sometimes hard to predict, but I suspect there'll be a large turnout Monday night".
To mark the CD's release, the Rent cast will make an appearance on NBC TV's "Today Show", but the date has not been finalized, according to Rent's press representative.
In other news, dates have been announced for the first spinoff production of Rent, to be housed at Boston's Shubert Theatre. The new production will begin previews Nov. 5 and open Nov. 18.
All of the creative team - Michael Greif (director), Marlies Yearby (choreographer), Paul Clay (set designer), Angela Wendt (costume design), and Blake Burba (lighting design) - are on board to reprise their roles in the original production. Musical Director Tim Weil will supervise the Boston version, but will remain with the Broadway production.
Neither casting nor ticket information have been released, but announcements are expected shortly.
Just when the Rent movie sale seemed to have been finally wrapped up comes word that all is not well with the deal.
According to a report in the New York Times, the show's Broadway producers are disputing the terms of the movie sale to Miramax Films and Robert De Niro's Tribeca Productions. The stage producers claim that although the family of the late Jonathan Larson controls the sale of the movie rights, the producers should also have a say in the deal.
The Times column quoted producer Jeffrey Seller as saying, "We (Seller, Alan S. Gordon, Kevin McCollum, and New York Theater Workshop) were surprised that Miramax made an announcement about a movie deal. The deal for the movie is not done." The bone of contention appears to be the stage producers' desire to co-produce (or executive produce) the movie. Such a role would allow them to exert greater artistic control over the adaptation as well as reap additional financial benefits.
A resolution to the dispute will hinge on negotiations between Jonathan Larson's family and the purchasers of the movie rights.
After considerable speculation and hand-wringing, the highly-coveted rights to film the smash Broadway musical were sold to a team of production companies that included New York based Miramax Films (Pulp Fiction, The Piano), Robert De Niro's TriBeCa Productions, and Martin Scorsese's Cappa Productions. The sale price is estimated to have been between $2.5 and 5 million. Scorsese, whose only experience directing movie musicals was the flop Liza Minelli/De Niro picture New York, New York, is said to be mulling over helming Rent.
-- By Andrew Ku