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TOURING & FESTIVAL NEWS: Rolling Stones Tour Second Highest Grossing Ever (Click on More to view all articles)

(CelebrityAccess News Service) — The Rolling Stones' recently completed Licks tour grossed nearly $300 million, according to Billboard. It was the second highest grossing tour, second only to their own Voodoo Lounge tour in 1994-95 that grossed $320 million. The 116-date Licks tour kicked off in Boston on September 3, 2002 and wound down in Zurich on October 2, 2003 with an attendance of more than 3.4 million people, playing to 99 per cent capacity. — By Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen.

Vans Warped Tour To Celebrate 10th Anniversary In 2004

(CelebrityAccess News Service) — Next year will mark the 10th anniversary of the Vans Warped Tour, America's longest-running touring festival. Over the last decade, the tour has persevered through the ups and downs of the music industry and helped break many up-and-coming bands by holding true to its independent spirit and punk rock mentality.

Early confirmations for the 2004 edition, which is set to launch June 25 in Houston, include New Found Glory, Taking Back Sunday and Coheed And Cambria. Organizers are sorting through thousands of submissions for this year's tour and will finalize the line-up in the coming months.

Tour founder Kevin Lyman notes: "We're looking at 2004 as an opportunity for the Warped Tour to do things we've done well better and to also implement a lot of new things. We want to incorporate more people into the lifestyle to help keep our scene strong." Plans are underway to expand the Take Action social consciousness area and the Reverse Day Care parents tent (which was overflowing with parents in 2003). There's also talk of bringing back the popular Warped Are They Now area as a film exhibit.

The 2004 summer tour will culminate with a once-in-a-lifetime 10-year reunion show on August 20 in Boston. "We've invited many bands from past tours to perform," says Lyman. "We've had a lot of interest and will have confirmations in the coming months."

In preparation for the 2004 tour, the Monster Energy/Ernie Ball Battle Of The Bands 7 will be held on December 10 at the Key Club in Los Angeles. At this annual event, unsigned bands Straight Outta Junior High, The Tossers, Montys Fan Club and Much The Same will compete for a chance to play on Warped Tour 2004. In addition, the show will also feature a very special guest.

Next up is the winter debut of Warped Tour Japan on January 10-11 at Studio Coast in Tokyo. Thursday, The Vandals, Bouncing Souls, Slick Shoes, Audio Karate, Useless I.D. and Poison The Well are confirmed for these shows, which will introduce Japanese fans to the tour. Lyman and his crew have teamed with Chi-Com International and Udo Concerts (one of Japan's largest concert promoters) for this special event.

In April 2004, Kung Fu Records will release the Warped 2003 DVD, which features live footage, interviews and behind-the-scenes clips from the 2003 Vans Warped Tour. –Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen

Promoters Shorten Oklahoma State Fair From 17 To 11 Days

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Shortening the Oklahoma State Fair by nearly a week will cut expenses and improve its presentation, promoters believe.

In a statement released Tuesday, fair board Chairman Clayton I. Bennett said slashing the event from 17 to 11 days mirrors schedules for the Ohio State Fair, New York State Fair, Florida State Fair, Alaska State Fair and the Minnesota State Fair.

"We wanted to be sure this decision was indeed in the best interest of the Oklahoma State Fair and our patrons," Bennett said. "Feedback from exhibitors, vendors and concessionaires supported the return to an 11-day format."

An economic analysis shows a shorter fair can be presented at a higher standard, lower cost and greater profit, Bennett said.

Oklahoma State Fair Inc., a private board that contracts with the city to operate the event and city-owned fair park, approved the reduced schedule last week.

The change will be reported Wednesday to the Oklahoma City Fairgrounds Trust, which controls the park.

According to an analysis obtained by The Oklahoman on Tuesday, the reduced schedule will lower expenses by an unknown amount, improve presentation, create a sense of urgency and boost preparation for the annual Morgan horse show that follows the fair.

Fair trustee and Ward 4 Councilman Brent Rinehart said he has questions about the proposal, but is prepared to support the change.

"Seventeen days is a long time, and it involves a lot of police and fire manpower," Rinehart said.

The state fair operated on a 10-day schedule from 1907 until it was extended to 17 days in 1987 by then General Manager Don Hotz.

Hotz argued that the longer run was necessary if the fair was to grow and minimize attendance drops caused by bad weather.

According to a fair history written by trust Chairman Paul Strausbaugh, the extension resulted in attendance jumping from about 1.3 million in 1986 to 1.7 million in 1987. Revenue increased from $2 million to $6.1 million during the same period.

Present General Manager Skip Wagner stopped reporting daily attendance when he succeeded Hotz in 2000. Since then, attendance has been estimated each year at 1 million.

Celine Dion Cancels Vegas Shows

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Celine Dion has canceled her Wednesday and Thursday shows on the Las Vegas Strip to attend her father's funeral in Montreal.

Adhemar Dion died Sunday at his home, said Robert Stewart, spokesman for Caesars Palace, where Dion's show "A New Day," has played since March.

Dion performed her show Sunday night and expects to return for Friday's show, Stewart said Monday. Her normal days off are Monday and Tuesday.

Dion's husband, Rene Angelil, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Adhemar Dion's funeral was scheduled Thursday.

The singer, best known for "My Heart Will Go On" from the film "Titanic," has credited her career to her father's sacrifices. A former butcher and security guard, he spent his 80th birthday in March with family members at a French restaurant atop the Palms hotel-casino in Las Vegas.

Spoleto Festival Announces 2004 Schedule

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Performances by dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov and a production of the 18-hour Chinese opera "The Peony Pavilion" highlight the schedule for next year's Spoleto Festival USA.

For 17 days each spring, the festival features theater, music and dance on stages throughout this seaside city. The 2004 edition of Spoleto runs from May 28 through June 13.

Other highlights include the Richard Strauss opera "Ariadne auf Naxos," the return of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater to Spoleto and performances by Nina Ananiashvili and the Moscow Ballet Theater.

"The Peony Pavilion," written in 1598, will be performed in 55 acts on a stage featuring a pavilion atop an 1,800-gallon tank filled with plants, goldfish and ducks.

The 18-hour opera will be presented in six episodes and during the festival there will be two complete cycles of the opera.

Along with the Strauss opera, Spoleto will also present Vincenzo Bellini's 1830 opera, "The Capulets and the Montagues," as well as a humorous take on opera in "The Four Note Opera."

Baryshnikov will appear in "The Doctor and the Patient," a work of oration and movement along with a score featuring various types of music, ranging from classical to tango to Georgian folk songs. The dance was conceived by Rezo Gabriadze who also directs. Gabriadze presented "The Battle of Stalingrad" at the 2003 festival.

The festival will also present "The Fula From America: An African Journey," by Charleston-born playwright Carlyle Brown.

Ananiashvili will appear with the Moscow Ballet Theater, a troupe created for the festival and featuring some of the leading soloists and dancers from the Bolshoi Ballet.

The jazz lineup includes Brazilian singer Renato Braz as well as the duo of trombonist Wycliffe Gordon and pianist Eric Reed.

The festival will close with its traditional outdoor orchestral concert followed by fireworks at Middleton Place Plantation.

This year's Spoleto budget is about $6.4 million, down from last year's $6.6 million but more than the $6.2 million the festival eventually spent, said spokeswoman Jennifer McPherson. Last year's festival ended its fiscal year with about $10,000 in the bank after selling a record $2.5 million worth of tickets.


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Spoleto Festival

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Makes Commitment To South African Talent For 2004

(CelebrityAccess News Service) —
In celebration of the 10th anniversary of South Africa’s democracy, the 2004 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival will showcase that country’s culture throughout next year’s event, April 23 – May 2. About 100 South African musicians and artisans are expected to participate, making it America’s most extensive tribute to the first decade of the new South Africa.

“The South African government has identified this as one of the major events to mark ten years of democracy,” said Thandiwe January-McClean, deputy-director general, Department of Arts and Culture, Republic of South Africa. “Through the Embassy in Washington, DC, the government saw the potential in the partnership of South Africa and the New Orleans Jazz &Heritage Festival and involved itself in negotiations culminating in the agreement being announced today. In South Africa’s view, the anniversary of ten years of democracy offers an opportunity not only for celebration but also for a renewal of the commitment to address the many remaining challenges. This is more easily done in partnership with friends of South Africa in the U.S. and the world.”

January-McClean added that the Department of Arts and Culture of South

Africa has appointed esp AFRIKA to act for the department in respect to this event.

Quint Davis, producer/director of Jazz Fest, said the Festival’s Heritage Fair at the Fair Grounds Race Course will feature a large pavilion-style tent with a South African marketplace and a stage for acoustic performances. The Congo Square Stage, always dedicated to presenting African and African-influenced artists, will be the site for many performances by South African musicians, who will complement the stage’s usual offerings of reggae, salsa, rhythm &blues, hip-hop and more.

Warren McDaniels, president of the Board of Directors of the New Orleans Jazz &Heritage Foundation, Inc., said, “This project has been several years in the making and a great deal of work by many, including members of the Foundation’s Cultural Exchange Committee, has paid off. We’re looking forward to adding South Africa to the distinguished list of countries featured at the Festival over the years.”

The Embassy of South Africa in Washington, D.C. was essential to facilitating the two-year development of the South African celebration at Jazz Fest. Davis and McDaniels credited the efforts of Damon J. Batiste and the New Orleans South Africa Connection (NOSACONN), a locally based cultural exchange organization, with playing a crucial role in bringing Jazz Fest and South African government agencies and corporations together to make the celebration possible.

South African Airlines has agreed to be a major sponsor of the cultural exchange, providing transportation for all South African participants to America. South Africa’s Department of Arts and Culture will make important contributions to help underwrite the costs of the initiative.

Since 1996, Jazz Fest has presented cultural celebrations of Haiti, Mali, Panama, Brazil, and Martinique, as well as other special tributes such as FrancoFête (the tricentennial of Louisiana), Louis Armstrong’s centennial, a showcase of Native American culture, and the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase. –Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner

Broadway to Get a Taste of Elvis in 2005

MEMPHIS, TN (AP) — Always eager to keep Elvis Presley working, managers of his estate have turned their sights on Broadway. "All Shook Up," a musical commissioned by the Elvis Presley estate and featuring a string of Presley's hit songs, is scheduled to open on Broadway in spring 2005.

It will first play Goodspeed Musicals' Norma Terris Theater in Chester, Conn., May 13-June 6, 2004.

Presley died in 1977 at his Memphis residence, Graceland, but his music and his value as an entertainer or advertising pitchman are as alive as ever.

The plot of the musical concerns what happens in a loveless town when a magical jukebox and a lady-loving, leather-clad stranger arrive, producer Jonathan Pollard said Tuesday. It takes place in the mid-1950s in roughly "Anywhere USA," he added.

"We are going to Goodspeed Chester to get a sense of what we have," the producer told The Associated Press. "It's the first step in the development (of the show)."

The musical will then move to a larger city (not yet decided), before heading to Broadway.

"All Shook Up" is not about Presley and no actor plays him in the show, but it includes 20 of his songs, including such hits as "Heartbreak Hotel," "Love Me Tender" and "Burning Love" as well as lesser-known pieces.

Jack Soden, chief executive of Elvis Presley Enterprises, said he and his staff came up with the Broadway idea about two years ago, largely due to the success of "Mamma Mia!" — a musical featuring the music of the pop group ABBA.

"If your full-time job is Elvis, we kind of do think tanks. We sit around and we look at the world, and what are the opportunities for us," Soden said.

Joe DiPietro, author of the musical "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," was hired to write the play and came up with the story. The estate didn't want a Presley biography.

"It probably wouldn't succeed because it would be dismissed as a highly produced Elvis impersonator show," Soden said.

Pollard has lined up several backers for the show, including Clear Channel Entertainment and Miramax Films.

The Presley estate, which holds the publishing rights to many of the hundreds of songs Elvis recorded, is owned entirely by his only child, daughter Lisa Marie.

Graceland and its complex of souvenir shops attracts more than 600,000 visitors a year.

Soden said the show already has begun to draw a bit of notice, generally in the entertainment industry.

"The process of developing a show like this is a long one, so you kind of have a tendency to both acknowledge that it's under way and being worked on, but you don't really go for the, 'Get ready public. Here we come,'" he said.


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Broadway Playing Best Shows Of The Fall

NEW YORK (AP) — What's this? Is that a little bit of sun peeking out from behind the clouds of doom and gloom that have enveloped Broadway this season?

After a disappointing October and much of November, the New York theater has seen, in less than a week, the best reviewed shows of the fall: an adaptation of Shakespeare's "Henry IV," starring a rapturously received Kevin Kline, and a revival of "Wonderful Town," the Bernstein-Comden and Green musical, with the equally acclaimed Donna Murphy.

And their critical approval has been met with an equally warm response at the box office.

The weekend after "Henry" opened, it took in $762,000, according to Bernard Gersten, executive producer of Lincoln Center Theater.

The run, which ends Jan. 11 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater, most likely will be sold out by the end of the week, he added.

"Wonderful Town" arrived on Broadway with a meager advance and plagued by the cancellation of preview performances after Murphy came down with the flu. It played only eight previews before opening because producer Barry Weissler wanted to open the musical before the lucrative Thanksgiving holiday weekend. His gamble paid off.

The show grossed $400,000 (including only a smattering of group sales) Monday, the day after the favorable reviews came out. Weissler plans an aggressive print, radio and television campaign to help sell the musical.

"My feeling is that the public always decides what is a hit and what is a flop," Weissler said. "Certainly the press helps. In the case of `Wonderful Town,' it's been an enormous help. I don't think we could have done it without good reviews."

And we haven't even gotten to the last two Broadway productions before Christmas — "I Am My Own Wife," which was a hit last summer off-Broadway. The play, about a German transvestite who survived both the Nazi and Communist regimes, opens Dec. 3.

And there is one more big musical to go: "Never Gonna Dance," loosely based on the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers film "Swing Time" and which uses a cavalcade of music by Jerome Kern.

Still, it hasn't been a fun fall for performers such as Jackie Mason, Farrah Fawcett, Polly Bergen, Mark Hamill and Ellen Burstyn. All were in shows that were panned and closed rapidly. In Fawcett's case, the show never got past preview performances to opening night.

"Producing theater is always a risky process, and what's terrific is how many different people are taking that risk," said Howard Sherman, executive director of the American Theater Wing, co-presenter of the Tonys. "But risk has all kinds of inherent meanings: you can have success and you can have things that do not succeed.

"What we're seeing right now is a fortuitously busy fall, something that we have not seen in a while, so, within that, where the chips fall is going to be variable."

There were the tabloid tribulations of Rosie O'Donnell, whose $10 million production of the Boy George musical, "Taboo," got bad press even before it opened. The reviews were tepid, although many critics thought it wasn't the out-and-out disaster some had predicted.

Hugh Jackman emerged unscathed, but his musical, "The Boy From Oz," did not. Yet the show has been grossing over $800,000 a week. Also doing hefty business is "Wicked," the $14 million musical about the witches from "The Wizard of Oz." Its reviews were mixed, but word of mouth as well as box-office receipts have been potent.

One of the glummest theater events of the fall occurred in Washington where "Bounce," the first new Stephen Sondheim musical in nearly 10 years, folded Nov. 16 at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, without booking a New York opening.

Despite its success, "Henry IV" can't run past mid-January because "`Lear' is breathing down its neck," Gersten said, referring to Lincoln Center Theater's upcoming production of "King Lear." "It's a tight turnaround."

"King Lear," which stars Christopher Plummer and is directed by Jonathan Miller, begins preview performances at the Beaumont Feb. 11 and opens March 4.

"Seasons don't turn around on a dime, nickel or a quarter — and one show does not make a season," Gersten said. "But what `Henry' does is that it reinforces in the mind of the public what possibilities the theater can offer. It fulfills those possibilities more than a lot of other things that are going on. And that can only be good for the theater."