MIAMI BEACH (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — No way, say the three contenders for the Jackie Gleason Theater, according to the Miami Herald. They want to keep the Great One's name on the building. But he'll have company on the marquee.
Live Nation wants to brand the Jackie Gleason Theater after one of the most famous venues in rock-and-roll: San Francisco's Fillmore Auditorium.
The country's top concert promoter would rename the South Beach venue ''The Fillmore Miami Beach at the Incredible Jackie Gleason Theater'' in an effort to modernize the image of a theater named after a star of black-and-white television.
''We just think it's a brand musicians would recognize,'' Live Nation spokesman John Vlautin said. “A band like the Killers loves to play the Fillmore in San Francisco, they love to play the Fillmore in Denver.''
The future of the Great One's name could prove a touchy subject as Miami Beach sifts through competing proposals for the city-owned theater. Gleason, who died in 1994, filmed his popular variety show there between 1966 and 1970, where Miami Beach was declared the “fun and sun capital of the world.''
Executives from Live Nation and the other two contenders for the lease, AEG Live and Cirque du Soleil, all say they plan to keep Gleason's name on the building.
But proposals submitted by Live Nation and its smaller rival in the concert industry, AEG Live, do contemplate selling naming rights for the theater. The city would have to sign off on the change and would receive a share of the sponsor revenues.
City Manager Jorge Gonzalez, considered a Cirque supporter, said this week that AEG planned to drop Gleason once it signs a corporate sponsor. ''AEG says it must change the name,'' Gonzalez said.
''Not true,'' AEG Live President Randy Phillips wrote in an e-mail. “We would want to incorporate [Gleason] into any potential naming rights deal.''
The proposals remained confidential as of Friday evening. Gonzalez had said they would be made public, but his staff was still working on its recommendation on the bids for city commissioners.
Until that recommendation is issued, the three contenders are barred from contacting commissioners. A final vote on the Gleason deal is set for Wednesday, but Commissioner Jerry Libbin raised the possibility Friday of delaying a decision.
''I'm not voting if I'm not comfortable,'' he said. “What we don't know is the nitty-gritty.''
The Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce recently demanded more time between the proposals' release and a commission vote.
Cirque, which wants $55 million in public dollars for a $100 million revamp of the Gleason, would pay the city an estimated average of $8 million a year over 10 years, according to a new synopsis of the proposals the city released Friday. Cirque's rent would be a portion of revenues, and it could close the show after three years if it experienced 12 months of losses.
AEG would pay the city about $1.3 million a year in shared profits and guaranteed rent, plus spend $2 million renovating the theater. It could cancel the deal after three years if losses exceeded $500,000. Live Nation would pay $1.1 million in flat rent and estimated $1 million for annual maintenance, after funding $3.5 million in renovations. It did not propose an exit clause.
Live Nation, which was briefly Cirque's partner in pursuing the Gleason deal, now wants to use the theater to extend its Fillmore brand to the East Coast. Along with the San Francisco theater made famous in the 1960s by the Grateful Dead and promoter Bill Graham, Live Nation runs a Fillmore in Denver.
Live Nation's proposed contract would give Miami Beach 25 percent of sponsorship revenues if the company drops the Gleason name. But Vlautin said that provision was inserted as a possible revenue source for the city.
''We have no plans to pursue a title sponsor for the venue,'' Vlautin said. Gleason's name is “culturally important to the city and to the history to the building, which is important to us.''