Producer Rocco Landesman Will Buy Jujamcyn Theatres, Representing Five Jewels in Broadway's Crown

By Kenneth Jones
05 Nov 2004

Rocco Landesman
Rocco Landesman
Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Following the Nov. 3 death of James H. Binger, chairman and founder of Jujamcyn Theatres, the operation's president Rocco Landesman is poised to buy the company, The New York Times reported.

Landesman, a respected Broadway producer, said he and Binger had an agreement that upon the latter's death, Landesman would buy the five theatres owned by Jujamcyn at the net asset value of about $30 million, according to the paper.

A spokesperson at Tartan Investment Company, which managed Binger's finances, confirmed to the Times that Landesman would buy the houses and run them as Jujamcyn Theatres.

The reason for such a relatively low purchase price, Landesman told the Times, is that the buildings do not come with "air rights" that would allow for lucrative real estate development above the theatres.

The houses in the Jujamcyn family are the Virginia, the Al Hirschfeld, the Walter Kerr, the Eugene O'Neill and the St. James. Landesman's offices are above the St. James, where The Producers is continuing its smash run.

The 57-year-old Landesman would be a rare creature in commercial New York theatre: A landlord who is also a creative producer. He has been president at Jujamcyn since 1987.

"I was hired because I was a producer, and I think it was Jim Binger's intention that the company continue independently and not be part of a big entertainment conglomerate," Landesman told the Times.

Prior to his appointment as president of Jujamcyn, Landesman produced the Tony-Award winning musical, Big River, and prior to that he taught dramatic literature and criticism at the Yale School of Drama. He has written articles and reviews for many publications, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. He serves on the boards of the Municipal Art Society, The Actors' Fund and the Times Square Business Improvement District.

The Shubert Organization and the Nederlander Organization are the other major players who own and operate most of the remaining Broadway theatres.

Jujamcyn derives its name from the names of James and Virginia Binger's children, Ju[dith], Jam[es], and Cyn[thia]. The Bingers launched the enterprise in the 1970s, when Virginia McKnight Binger's father, William L. McKnight, gave them two theatres he had acquired two decades earlier.

Virigina Binger died in 2002. James Binger, 88, died at his home in Minneapolis Nov. 3. The cause of death was reported as cancer.