It doesn't look so good for the beleaguered Broadway musical about John Lennon. The eponymous titled show, which got scathing reviews after finally opening on Aug. 14, is limping along with few patrons.
Last week, Lennon took in a measly $303,959 and played to less than a half full theater on most days. The box office was down about 14 percent from the previous week, and those numbers hadn’t been very encouraging either.
Of course, “Lennon: The Musical” is a god-awful piece of work that portrays the late ex-Beatle with five actors. The show completely skips using any Beatles’ songs, and instead focuses on Lennon’s solo career and his enormous love for second wife Yoko Ono.
Ono, in a steady stream of interviews before the show opened, stood by her decision to let the show proceed as it was and is. This meant cutting out basic biographical information about Lennon, emphasizing minor songs no one wanted to hear and re-imagining rock history. Apparently, audiences have not flocked to this idea.
It’s not like Broadway is having a great August, but nearly every show did better than Lennon last week, even those playing for a long time.
“Spamalot,” “The Lion King,” “The Producers,” “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” “Wicked,” “Mamma Mia” and “Hairspray” are still pulling in nearly sold-out dates. Lennon is lagging far behind all of them, and even not doing as well as dramas like “The Pillowman” and "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee."
Of course, the whole point of “Lennon” was to make it to the singer’s 65th birthday on Oct. 9 and the 25th anniversary of his death on Dec. 9. Neither seems likely. Ono is planning to release a book of reminiscences about Lennon for early October. By that time, the musical should be long gone.
The mystery of what exactly Edgar Bronfman’s Warner Music Group is supposed to be continues. Is it a record company? If so, it doesn’t have any hits. And the hits it does have —well, Bronfman and co. just sacked the one guy who’d been getting them those hits. What does that tell you?
While we were away, Bronfman and his chief head chopper Lyor Cohen terminated Jason Flom, the man behind Lava Records.
Lava, so far as anyone can tell, was the only functioning part of the new Warner Music Group, or the old one. Flom was the man behind Rob Thomas and Matchbox Twenty, as well as Kid Rock, Uncle Cracker, Click Five and Sugar Ray.
Lava was such a hit that WMG paid Flom $50 million for it last year and made him co-president of Atlantic Records.
Of course, having hits seems to be the one thing Bronfman’s WMG doesn’t really want. Since these guys bought the company from Time Warner, they’ve relied solely on artists who existed at the company under the old regime, like Faith Hill, Green Day and Linkin Park. And the latter is suing them to get off the label.
What hasn’t happened since the Bronfman buyout: hits by new artists of any kind. Cohen came over from Island/Def Jam and brought along Kevin Liles and Julie Greenwald, expensive talent, to re-invent Warners as a hip-hop mecca. They’ve managed to have a minor hit with rapper Mike Jones. Otherwise, Warner’s is cold to the point of being nonexistent.
Cohen and co. also made an expensive deal with Sean “Do-Wha-Diddy” Combs for his Baby Boy Records. That’s proven to be pretty much of a bust so far. And now it turns out that ratings for the spectacularly awful MTV Video Music Awards, which Combs hosted, were way down from last year.
Flom has a lot of money and will no doubt make a deal somewhere else quickly. But as reported on hitsdailydouble.com, he was ambushed by Cohen, who lured him out of town and then fired him. Yeeesh.
The irony will be, of course, that Flom will wind up at EMI, which will merge with or simply buy WMG from its current investors, and Flom will be back in charge of his company after being bought out by Bronfman et. al.
In the meantime, Flom, who’s perfected an excellent stand-up comedy routine full of great off-color jokes, can work on his delivery until the lawyers hash things out.
And so it goes: Diane Dimond is gone from Court TV. Are we surprised? Not really. How could Court TV have continued to support her after Dimond vehemently took a pro-prosecution stance in the Michael Jackson case? When that verdict came in, and Dimond’s entire enterprise collapsed, the end couldn’t have been nearer.
You’ve heard the expression: “In real life, she’s really nice”? Well, in Diane’s case, that’s the truth. In real life, she’s a lot of fun. She’s also smart, and has been a terrific reporter ever since her early days at Channel 2 in New York.
But the Jackson case somehow got the better of her, and no matter what was said in court, Diane only heard “good for the DA, bad for Jackson.”
Her association with DA Tom Sneddon, whether real or imagined, was a constant topic of conversation. She was the only reporter tipped off by Sneddon about the Nov. 18, 2003 Neverland raid. It was her one big scoop on the story. After that, with no perspective on the defense side or possible mistakes made by the DA, she had no place to go.
I’ll be interested to see Diane’s take on the Jackson saga in her upcoming book. Hopefully, the book will give her some closure, and she’ll be back with a big story one day that has nothing to do with Jackson.