Finding Neverland has quickly become known in Broadway precincts as The Curious Incident Of The Blog In The Day-Time (with apologies to that other show opening this week). On Sunday, Deadline broke two stories about the musical, which is based on the Johnny Depp film and is navigating toward a spring opening in treacherous waters past the Scylla of Michael Riedel and the Charibdys of Harvey Weinstein. First, we told you that the show would open at the venerable Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, currently home to Motown The Musical.
Second, and more important, we told you that during a public exchange over the weekend between Riedel and Weinstein, the producer vowed to bypass the now-standard legal scam on Broadway of charging “obscene” prices for so-called Premium seats, which currently set customers back “upwards of $500” per ducat. That promise was extracted by Riedel in exchange for his vow to stop “being bitchy” in his New York Post theater column, of which there is, happily, slim to zero chance of being honored. And a Big Hooray to Harvey for being so daring, so Pan-like, as to buck the trend begun back in the day by The Producers and which has created a Broadway for High Rollers, others need not apply.
True to its long-standing tradition of, um, borrowing the work of other news outlets without credit unless subjected to the rack, the New York Times reported in its Arts Briefly blog on Monday that Finding Neverland would open at the Lunt in the spring — and that Rick Miramontez, a spokesman for the show, “denied a report on Sunday by Deadline.com that Mr. Weinstein would not charge premium ticket prices for the Broadway run.”
Well that’s a fine how-do you do. When I calmly pointed out to Scott Heller, the Times‘ theater editor, and somewhat more heatedly to Patrick Healy, author of the story, that no one had bothered to contact me to verify Weinstein’s declaration, the blog was curiously amended with an “update” that snuck in the line, “The author of the Deadline.com article, Jeremy Gerard, said on Monday that he stood by his report.”
And when the article appeared in print on Tuesday, the entire issue of premium seats had been excised — despite the fact that these tickets, along with the practice of “dynamic seating” in which prices change according to demand — are key reasons why the public places most Broadway producers on a par with used-car salesmen and politicians.
So which Times do you read? The updated blog is, to put it kindly, as much of an untruth as Healy’s original report. I never uttered the words “I stand by my report” or anything close to that. I didn’t have to: The exchange between Weinstein and Riedel was captured on video and is quite clear: “Are you going to charge those prices?” Riedel asks Weinstein, after calling premium tickets “obscene” and eliciting cheers from the attendant crowd. “No,” Weinstein replies. End of discussion.
Finding Neverland plans to open in the spring at the Lunt-Fontanne, but you already knew that. On Sunday. Here’s more news: The wholly revamped musical will all but certainly open on Broadway with an actor other than the fine, hard-working Jeremy Jordan in the leading role of Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie. I’ll stand by that.