Monday, June 7, 2010

David Saxe Explains, Sorta

The uberproducer David Saxe called this afternoon to explain the bizarre notice issued by his company on May 28 in which David Saxe Productions announced that "due to popular demand" the June 11-17 performances of the not-yet-open "Vegas! The Show" were sold out. The trouble was, the show's debut had been postponed June 18 and everyone at DSP knew that when this thing was sent.

Saxe did his best in our chat to marginalize me, going on about how he'd never been interrogated in this manner by a journalist and suggesting I call all my competitors for a better take on what a swell guy he is. You know, because a city's not worth much if its media doesn't adhere to groupthink, right? He even opened by asking what he'd done to make me hate him which, of course, was designed to force me to say I don't hate him.

And I don't. I also don't hate Nina Radetich, Matt Goss, Grandmother Kathy McClain, Michael Politz, Steve Wynn, Robert Earl, Jim Murren or any number of others I've found myself at odds with in the course of doing my job. It's not personal. To paraphrase what Sharron Angle said when I asked her to say something nice about Harry Reid, I'm sure they all love their families.

Anyhow, Saxe called, which is the stand-up thing to do. And this is a summary of his explanation:

1. He did not know that notice was going out and it was only intended for ticket brokers, not journalists.

2. It was not true that all of those shows were sold out, although it could have been because he had some group sales deal that would have filled the theater on the unseen, unfinished production for some of those dates.

3. Yes, I was correct that on May 28, when that notice went out, DSP knew the shows were not occurring, let alone that they were sold out.

The new show was expected to debut in the former Steve Wyrick Theater, now the David Saxe Theater, on June 11, but it's been pushed back because of renovations to Saxe's other Miracle Mile Shops showroom, the venerable V Theater. So shows in the V will take place in the new DST and the Vegas thing is scheduled to start June 18.

That's perfectly reasonable. So why claim this other stuff? Saxe said it's a normal part of his interactions with ticket brokers, that it is better to claim the shows were sold out rather than that for technical reasons the show isn't opening on time. This way the ticket brokers and group-sales people don't lose confidence in the show. (How they can have confidence in a show nobody's seen yet to begin with is an enduring mystery.)

"So we say, 'because of popular demand' as opposed to, 'Hey, we have to push it back because of X, Y or Z,' " Saxe said. "They put a little spin on it."

I kept asking Saxe why it's OK to say that to anyone -- journalists, business associates, Joe The Plumber -- and he kept (a) agreeing with me and then (b) insisting that it's just the way business is done between companies like his as ticket brokers.

"I didn’t love the wording, I didn’t agree to it, but whatever, if it looks like we're having technical difficulties, they don’t need to know the reason why," he said. "This is an inside industry thing between my ticket brokers and me."

It does feel like I've kicked over a bit of a hornet's nest here. Clearly this is a side of the Vegas ticket business that few people know of or understand. I have noticed those shows at the V Theater always, always, always have huge lines flooding into the mall. And some of them are shows I've enjoyed -- Gerry McCambridge made my top 10 list in the Weekly last year and Gregory Popovich was a guest on The Petcast's show No. 11 (out of 250 now, btw!)

Those shows are supported by an intense public marketing campaign -- it's hard to go anywhere without a Vegas.Com booth offering Saxe's fliers -- and coupons abound in Las Vegas magazine and elsewhere. Yet Saxe also clearly has an impressive entertainment machine rolling along that seems to hinge upon selling large blocks of seats to groups, too.

That's all well and good -- and totally fascinating to me -- but it still sets my Bullshit-O-Meter ticking when I see stuff like this and hear the explanation. Business is ugly, no doubt about it, but dishonesty in any form seems inappropriate even (especially?) when it's not an attempt to mislead journalists. That's all.

In the meantime, I'm sure David Saxe is a terrific fellow who loves his family. And, responding to another of his concerns, I hope I've found a photo of him more to his liking.


Benzo Jones said...

As someone who ran a ticket broker company in town for many years, I can say that David makes an accurate point regarding perception of the sales people when a show is delayed. Given the competition, any whiff of negativity can be a deal breaker when it comes to sales. You can't really blame the guy for trying to protect his product.

AND - "in this economy" (hate that term) we probably should toss the guy a bone for putting people to work in that empty shell of a wasteland Steve Wyrick left behind.

Now... if he'd just hire the bubble guy we'd be gold.

Michael said...

Good stuff Steve, an interesting read. To the point of the group sales reference that Saxe mentioned, since most of his shows are highly publicized on Goldstar and in the past they've done completely free 1st weeks for shows, perhaps that's the reference. I know for awhile there any new show that was opening would come up on for free for a 1-2 week period where they were only collecting fairly high service fees, but I have seen it and used the deal.

Not trying to defend Saxe here, I think you made a fair point in your concern with the announcement, just trying to provide some additional insight.