VENUE & FESTIVAL NEWS: (Click on More to view all articles) Apollo Theater Foundation Issues Statement On Percy Sutton

The Apollo Theater Foundation, by its president and CEO, Derek Johnson, issued the following statement in response to the recent demonstrations convened at the theater by a small group following the Foundation's decision regarding "It's Showtime at the Apollo":

"We are sensitive to and appreciative of the community input that has emerged in the wake of our recent decision to enlist a new production and distribution team for our long-standing television product, "It's Showtime at the Apollo." While a variety of factors influenced our business decision regarding the license agreement for "It's Showtime … ," none of those factors should be interpreted as reflecting negatively on Percy Sutton or his family. Indeed, we continue to regard Mr. Sutton as a towering figure in the theater's history, without whom neither The Apollo Theater nor The Apollo Theater Foundation would today exist. In view of his unrelenting support of the theater, and the Harlem community more generally, we look forward to continuing a strong relationship with Mr. Sutton and Inner City."

















Club Cancels Palestinian Comic's Act


CHICAGO (AP) — A comedian scheduled to open for Jewish comic Jackie Mason was told hours before the show he couldn't perform because he is Palestinian, Mason's manager said.

Ray Hanania was supposed to open for Mason on Tuesday night at Zanie's comedy club in Chicago, but the club phoned him a few hours before to tell him his act was canceled.

Mason has been an outspoken member of the Jewish community. His manager cited recent Israeli-Palestinian violence and delayed peace talks in explaining the decision.

"It's not exactly like he's just an Arab-American. This guy's a Palestinian," said Jyll Rosenfeld, Mason's manager. "Jackie does not feel comfortable having a Palestinian open for him. Right now it's a very sensitive thing, it's just not a good idea."

Mason, who has appeared on Broadway and in films such as "Caddyshack II" and "The Jerk," is an ardent supporter of Israel and has received at least one award from the Israeli government.

"Nothing personal against this fellow," Rosenfeld said. "Jackie doesn't even know him."

But members of Chicago's Arab-American community did take it personally.

As the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks approaches, Americans should be doing more to unite, said Ali Alarabi, president of the United Arab American League.

"I'm outraged," Alarabi said. "It is an act of hate and racism against Palestinians, and we demand an apology."

Rosenfeld said the issue is more about avoiding an uncomfortable situation.

"Don't turn this into a racist issue, because it's not," Rosenfeld said. "We just felt this is not a good idea at this time."

Hanania, 49, said he has been a comedian for less than a year and has about 20 performances under his belt. He started performing after Sept. 11 in an effort to lighten the situation and bring people together, he said.

"I'm upset because I deserve to be on stage and it was a big break for me," Hanania said.

Zanie's General Manager Linda Moses said Hanania's inexperience contributed to the cancellation. She said Hanania was replaced by a comic who has opened for Mason several times in the past.

"It's just the fact that he is an unknown," Moses said. "(Mason) is just not comfortable with having an unknown act. It's understandable."

In cases like this, the club must defer to Mason's wishes, Moses said.

Hanania, a Vietnam War veteran and former reporter, said he believes the decision should be based on how funny and entertaining he is. He said that if the decision was simply that he is a "lousy comedian," then he would be satisfied.




UPDATE: Jackie Mason Denies Racial Motives


CHICAGO (AP) — Jewish comic Jackie Mason denied Wednesday that he ordered a comedian scheduled to open for him off the schedule because he was of Palestinian descent — contradicting an earlier account by his manager and wife.

Zanie's said Wednesday that it canceled an appearance by fledgling comic Ray Hanania after receiving several calls of protest — some of a threatening nature — about a Jew and Arab-American sharing the stage. The club said on Tuesday that Mason was uncomfortable having Hanania perform before him because he was an unknown.

Hanania was supposed to open for Mason on Tuesday night, but said the club phoned him a few hours before to tell him his act was canceled. Hanania said it was his impression he was not allowed to open for Mason because he is Arab-American.

"It makes no difference to me if he was a Jew or a Palestinian," Mason said at a news conference Wednesday. "They don't involve me in these types of decisions. I sit in my room and write jokes, that's all I do."

That contradicted what his manager and wife, Jyll Rosenfeld, said on Tuesday.

"Jackie does not feel comfortable having a Palestinian open for him. Right now it's a very sensitive thing, it's just not a good idea," Rosenfeld said.

Rosenfeld cited recent Israeli-Palestinian violence and delayed peace talks in explaining the decision.

Mason, who has appeared on Broadway and in films such as "Caddyshack II" and "The Jerk," is an ardent supporter of Israel and has received at least one award from the Israeli government.

While Mason said Wednesday he had nothing to do with cancelling Hanania, he said he became "furious" after learning that Hanania had been promoting the appearance with Mason and playing up the two comics' different backgrounds.

Zanie's also said Hanania's promotion of the show contributed to its decision to remove him.

Members of Chicago's Arab-American community objected to Hanania's removal from Tuesday's lineup.

As the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks approaches, Americans should be doing more to unite, said Ali Alarabi, president of the United Arab American League.

"I'm outraged," Alarabi said. "It is an act of hate and racism against Palestinians, and we demand an apology."

Hanania, 49, who was born in Chicago, said he has been a comedian for less than a year. He said he started performing after Sept. 11 in an effort to lighten the situation and bring people together.

Hanania acknowledged he had attempted to hype his appearance with Mason and was glad for the publicity.

He said Wednesday he didn't believe he was discriminated against, but called his removal a "knee-jerk" reaction to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He said he wished people in the Middle East "rather than throwing rocks and bullets at each other, threw jokes."




Royal Bank Of Canada Buys NHL Arena Naming Rights


Canada's largest bank, Royal Bank of Canada, has inked a 20-year, $80 million naming rights agreement with the National Hockey League's Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, NC, the Business Journal of Raleigh reports. The three-year-old Raleigh Entertainment & Sports Arena will be renamed the RBC Center. The Hurricanes are one of only five National Hockey League teams without a corporate name gracing their home arena.





SBC Center Makes Personnel Changes


The SBC Center in San Antonio, TX, has made a number of personnel moves. Stephen Zito, CFE, vice president and general manager of the facility, will take on the additional responsibility of overseeing operations for the $175 million, 18,500-seat arena when it opens this fall; John Sparks, previously director of building operations for the Philips Arena in Atlanta, has been named assistant general manager; Chad Pritchett, who served as a summer intern for the project developer with the SBC Center in the summer of 2001, has been named business development officer; Stella de la Garza has been named executive assistant to Zito.





Pam Tillis To Play At Yakov Smirnoff's In Branson In 2003


Pam Tillis will perform at the Yakov Smirnoff Theatre in Branson, Missouri during June, July, November and December 2003. Shows will be at 8:00 PM, Tuesday through Saturday, with some 3:00 PM matinees.

Yakov says, "I'm pleased to have Pam Tillis continue the Tillis legacy in Branson at my theater. Pam is a tremendous entertainer who is known as a pioneer in the country music industry. Her decision to perform in Branson for an extended time period is great news for the entire entertainment community and especially for our visitors!" In recent years Pam Tillis has joined her famous father, Mel Tillis, on stage at his theater in Branson for some limited dates. With Mel's decision to tour nationally in 2003, the opportunity for Yakov to bring Pam to his theater for her own shows became a reality.

Pam Tillis says, "Branson has always been a place for different generations to come together to enjoy tremendous family entertainment. In the '90s, my Dad, Mel Tillis came to Branson as the leading headliner in a town that is an entertainment mecca for fans and a wonderful place for families. I'm excited to continue that tradition for both my family and my fans."

Yakov says, "To have a wonderful country music star like Pam at my theater really makes What A Country! take on a whole new meaning. With such a tremendous entertainer at my theater it will also give me an opportunity to focus on my new Broadway show."

Yakov will be performing at his theater in Branson during April, May, September, October, November, and December. "Since
I've always done 9:30 AM and 3:00 PM shows, Pam's show at 8:00 PM works perfect for our schedule. During the off-season I'll be opening a one-man Broadway show in New York," adds Yakov.





Atlantic City Rap Concert Goes On


ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — A rap concert that was canceled last week because of concerns about violence went on Sunday, but N.O.R.E and the other two headlining acts never took the stage.

About 200 people showed up for the concert at the Sandcastle Stadium — well below the promoter's goal of 7,000. Several local rap acts played, but the three featured acts — N.O.R.E., Styles and Khia — did not perform, The Press of Atlantic City reported in Monday's editions.

The show was canceled last Monday after a police memo indicated that N.O.R.E, also known as Noreaga, has associations with the Bloods street gang. The city and the Atlantic City Surf, the baseball team that leases the city-owned stadium, expressed concerns about potential violence.

N.O.R.E. is known for raps that reflect a hard life that landed him in prison for attempted murder as a teenager. His song "Nothin'" is near the top of rap charts.

On Friday, a federal judge allowed the concert to proceed after the city and concert promoters struck a deal for increased security at the 5,900-seat minor league baseball stadium.

The concert began about three hours after its scheduled start time of 6 p.m. because of technical glitches, said Bill Rodman, an Atlantic City Surf employee.




Crue's Vince Neil Returning to Club


DENVER (AP) — Motley Crue lead singer Vince Neil will return to a Steamboat Springs nightclub after walking off stage last week, his manager said Friday.

Neil left the Levelz nightclub in this resort town Aug. 14 after someone threw something on stage, manager Burt Stein said. Stein said Neil felt threatened and left after performing about three songs.

"I've informed every artist I work with that if something starts flying on stage, get off the stage," Stein said. "It could turn into a real ugly scene."

Stein said no date had been set for the repeat performance.

Jim Turczynski, who previously identified himself as a club manager when discussing the incident, is actually a security employee, said Chad Gagliano, owner of the club.




The Improv Celebrates Its 40th Anniversary With 21-City Tour


Diet Coke with Lemon and the Improv are teaming up to celebrate the Improv's 40th anniversary with the
"Do What Feels Good – Laugh!" tour. Some of today's top comedians, including Wayne Brady, Kevin Pollak, George Lopez, Janeane Garafalo and other leading comedic talent, will take turns headlining in a 21-city tour across the United States.

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"Diet Coke with Lemon is encouraging America to 'do what feels good – laugh,'" said Melissa Prewitt, senior brand manager, diet Coke. "By bringing together an upbeat, fun brand like diet Coke with Lemon, a comedy icon like the Improv and a host of talented comedians, we will be spreading laughter throughout the country, one city at a time."

The Diet Coke with Lemon Celebrates the Improv 40th Anniversary Do What Feels Good – Laugh Tour will kick off at the landmark Melrose location in Hollywood on August 23. The 21-city comedy road show will conclude with the grand finale celebration taking place in New York City, the home of the first Improv, on October 19.

From August 14 – October 1, 2002, people throughout the U.S. can join in the laughter by logging onto http://www.dietcoke.com/ for a chance to win a trip to see the finale performance of the Diet Coke with Lemon Celebrates the Improv 40th Anniversary Do What Feels Good – Laugh Tour featuring one of today's most recognizable comedic talents, Jon Stewart. Sweepstakes winners will receive a trip for two to New York (for three days, two nights), tickets to the show, passes to an exclusive pre-show party, spending money and diet Coke with Lemon specialty items.

The Diet Coke with Lemon Celebrates the Improv 40th Anniversary Do What Feels Good – Laugh Tour will highlight well renowned comedians as well as hometown comedians. It will also celebrate the Improv's 40th Anniversary with a one-hour entertainment special honoring America's original comedy club and its founder Budd Friedman. The world's comedic giants will gather at the legendary Melrose Improv for the "Diet Coke with Lemon Celebrates 40 Years of Laughter: at the Improv" featuring historical clips, personal introspective on the Improv and alumni stand-up by comedians Jay Leno, Jay Mohr, Arsenio Hall, D.L. Hughley and Kevin Pollak. "Diet Coke with Lemon Celebrates 40 Years of the Improv" will air September 3rd on NBC.

With over one billion jokes told, the Improv and its founder Budd Friedman have entertained crowds from coast to coast for four decades. The Improv has consistently been a launching pad for the world's most successful comedians including David Spade, Jerry Seinfeld, Jonathan Winters and Drew Carey, making it one of the most recognizable and respected names in comedy.

The comedy tour is presented by Diet Coke with Lemon and produced by the Improv, which will host shows in 10 local Improv clubs, and by Clear Channel Entertainment, which will stage shows in venues in 11 cities.

The itinerary:

Hollywood, LA (August 23 – 25)

Denver, CO (August 23)

Atlanta, GA (September 7)

New Orleans, LA (September 14)

Addison, TX (September 12- 15)

Boston, MA (September 21)

Dallas, TX (September 21)

Pittsburgh, PA (September 22)

Miami, FL (September 27-29)

Seattle, WA (September 29)

Tempe, AZ (September 29)

Memphis, TN (October 3)

Raleigh, NC (October 5)

Minneapolis, MN (October 6)

Tampa, FL (October 6)

Cleveland, OH (October 10-13)

Ontario, CA (October 13)

Baltimore, MD (October 17-20)

Cincinnati, OH (October 18)

Chicago, IL (October 19)

New York, NY (October 19)





Austin City Limits Become Live Music Festival


Austin, Texas, the live music capital of the world and home to the SXSW Music Festival, has added another music event. The First Annual Austin City Limits Music Festival will debut September 28-29 in
Zilker Park.
The outdoor festival will feature six stages of live music
performed by
the likes of Ryan Adams, Emmylou Harris, Wilco, The String
Cheese
Incident, Los Lobos, Luna, Blind Boys of
Alabama, Gillian Welch, Robert Randolph, Abra Moore, The
Jayhawks, Patty Griffin, Eyes Adrift, Pat Green and more than
50 other
acts. There will also be arts exhibits, food from Austin's
favorite
restaurants and a children's area.

"'Austin City Limits' is broadcast on PBS stations across the
country, but very few people have enjoyed the performances
live," "Austin City Limits" producer Terry Lickona said. "The
festival is an opportunity to take the show to the next level
— out of the studio to the fans who have supported it for
more
than 25 years."

"For 25 years, 'Austin City Limits' has been our ambassador to
the world, but it's also one of the toughest tickets in town.
For two days in September, we will capture the magic of a
live
taping and give it to 40,000 fans in beautiful Zilker Park.
This Festival will combine the finest expressions of
everything
we love about Austin: live music, green spaces, the arts and
great food," commented Bill Stapleton, founder of Capital
Sports & Entertainment, which is the organizer of the
festival.

Tickets for the two-day event are $40 dollars (plus
service and processing fees) if purchased before September
20. Tickets are available online at
http://www.aclfestival.com/, or calling toll-free
888-597-7827.
Kids 10 and under will be admitted for free if accompanied
by
an adult with a ticket.

The breakdown of the six stages that the artists will be
performing on includes the Feature Stage – showcasing national
and
international major artists; Texas Stage – primarily features
folk and
country cross-over
acts; Heritage Stage – offering an eclectic mix of artists
ranging from Latin to the Americana singer-songwriters; Jam
Stage –
featuring the hottest in eclectic groove and rock acts;
Austin Stage –
gives local musicians a chance to show the audience just what
makes
Austin the live music capital of the
world; American Original Stage – offers American music: blues,
jazz,
and gospel.

Chevrolet is the presenting sponsor for the Austin City Limits
Music Festival. Stage sponsors include Heineken, Austin
Ventures and Jackson Walker. Supporting sponsors are Star
Tickets, Fender Musical Instruments and Sweet Leaf Tea.




Mad Booking Wraps Up Three-City Summer Concert Series


Mad Booking brought concerts to Atlanta, Nashville and Washington, DC this summer, and all experienced a similar phenomena: one night a week, thousands of people headed downtown to listen to some of the country's hottest
musicians play under the stars. Acts included Cake, John Mayer, India.Arie, The Neville Brothers and Blues Traveler for free. For 12 weeks this summer, Mad Booking brought these acts and others to Coca-Cola's Dancin' in the District in Nashville, Vanilla Coke's On the Bricks in Atlanta, and Coca-Cola's DC Sessions in Washington, DC.

"The incredible response from each market has helped make this one of the most successful seasons Mad Booking has ever experienced," says Marcie Allen, president of Mad Booking. "The support from each city has been so amazing that we're considering adding more cities to the lineup. It's been such a thrilling season that I'm already excited about planning next year's events."

Celebrating its 10th Anniversary this season, Coca-Cola's Dancin' in the District is the oldest of the three events and served as the model for the concert series in
Atlanta and DC. Proving that its recipe is one of success, nearly 150,000 people headed to Riverfront Park in downtown Nashville this season to listen to Cake, Bela
Fleck & the Flecktones, Keb' Mo', Robert Earl Keen, and The Neville Brothers. Blues Traveler closed out the record-breaking season with 17,000 people in attendance.

Now in its second season Vanilla Coke's On The Bricks has proven after a high profile summer that it's here to stay. The season was off to a phenomenal start with
more than 96,000 people at the first show featuring John Mayer and India.Arie, setting a new record for attendance at Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta.
More than 500,000 people headed to the heart of downtown, with the beautiful Atlanta skyline twinkling behind them as they settled into blankets and lawn chairs, when the park wasn't standing room only, to listen to favorites such as Alanis Morissette, Michelle Branch, Sister Hazel, Avril Lavigne and Hootie & The Blowfish.

As the newest free concert series for Mad Booking, Coca-Cola's DC Sessions
enjoyed a huge welcome by Washington DC and its surrounding areas. The
inaugural season was off to an unbelievable start when more than 11,000 music fans
made their way to the steps of the Smithsonian American Art Museum for the first
performance featuring G. Love and Special Sauce! Throughout the summer,
Coca-Cola's DC Sessions went on to host crowds of upwards of 18,000 for headliners
Cake and Blues Traveler. In a city filled with free festivals and events, DC Sessions'
profile and popularity grew over the season, making it a household name that brought
close to 125,000 people downtown by the end of the season and people anxiously
awaiting its return.

In each city, a portion of the proceeds went to VH1's Save the Music Foundation,
helping to provide students in 43 cities across the country with brand new
instruments and programs to teach them play. In addition, Mad Booking and their
Washington, DC partners, Downtown Presents, established a non-profit organization
that will use its proceeds to buy musical instruments for disadvantaged children in
DC public schools that do not have music programs.

This year's event sponsors included but were not limited to: Coca-Cola, Vanilla Coke,
Mello Yello, Bud Light, Budweiser, Doc's Hard Lemon, Coors Light, Molson
Canadian, Toyota, Earthlink and Cingular/Nokia.




Festivals Affected by 9-11 Mood


VAIL, CO (AP) — It has been a midsummer's nightmare for arts festivals across the country because of visa restrictions imposed to tighten security after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Festivals have had to find replacement performers at the last minute for top artists who have been denied entry, including the recent Vail Valley International Dance Festival and the Lincoln Center Festival in New York City.

"I think it must be the worst summer for festivals in decades, if not the worst ever," said Jan Denton, executive director of the American Arts Alliance. "There is some irony in shutting down the arts at a time when we should be encouraging international cultural exchanges with the long view of understanding other countries."

Less than two weeks before the Vail festival, organizers learned the Lizt Alfonso's Dance Cuba and two Bolshoi Ballet dancers were denied visas. Programs already had been printed; promotional materials distributed.

"You can well imagine it is a festival director's worst nightmare to have something you have worked on for a couple of years fall through," said Katherine Kersten, artistic director of the dance event.

Organizers pulled every string they could, but they wound up having to find replacements.

The American Arts Alliance, which lobbies on behalf of arts groups including many small, nonprofit festivals, is urging Congress to pass legislation speeding up the process for admitting overseas artists to the country.

"We are made so much richer by the diversity of cultural imports. I feel we are in a world where we can see that if people in Afghanistan can have this effect on us, we need to know more about the world," said Nigel Redden, director of the Lincoln Center Festival in New York City.

Redden canceled three performances of an Iranian music theater production in July and selected different plays because one-third of the members of an Iranian dance troupe were denied visas and other members arrived too late.

Although festival directors recognize the need for tighter security, they want the visa process streamlined.

"The inconvenience that we went through, and it was an inconvenience, is nothing compared with Sept. 11," said Mark Malkovich III, general director of the Newport Music Festival in Rhode Island. "I sympathize with the Immigration and Naturalization Service with the caveat that they have to streamline their procedures. There are people who are famous artists and there ought to be a way to put this through faster."

Malkovich substituted American Mei-Ting Sun, winner of the International Piano E Competition, for renowned Georgia pianist Virsaladze Eliso. Substitute artists also filled in for two others whose visas didn't arrive in time for the July festival.

"The artists were all so cooperative. Nobody flinched," he said.

Malkovich, whose festival staged the North American premieres for 120 artists, said he felt sorry for the smaller festivals that lacked the contacts or funds to get replacements.

But most found replacements and ticket sales were up for many festivals.

The Old Songs Festival in Altamont, N.Y., had to cancel three performances by Craolbh Rua, a band from Northern Ireland. Festival spokeswoman Andy Spence said organizers lobbied Congress and anyone else who could help "but nothing happened. For booking in next summer we have to hire people now and do the contracts now," Spence said.

American artists won't always be an alternative. "We do a lot of roots music so we want the people with the roots," he said.

In Vail, an ensemble from the New York City ballet, led by principal dancer Damian Woetzel, performed a second show to fill one open spot. Hubbard Street Dance of Chicago, performing in nearby Aspen, and Nikolai Massenkoff, who has his own Russian Dance Festival, filled the other open spots.

Dancers from the Paris Opera Ballet got their visas in time but Kersten had to enlist the aid of Colorado congressional members to get their costumes to Vail in time for the August festival.

"It seems this is one instance where politics truly has interfered with art," Woetzel said, though he agreed it had one silver lining.

"Artistically, it was also an opportunity to present a program with dancers from the Paris Opera and the New York City Ballet on the same program. The mixing of the two great traditions made for a very interesting evening of ballet."

Kersten said she remains committed to bringing the Cubans to Vail. The festival started because in 1989 because the Bolshoi Academy lost a sponsor, and it has focused on bringing in artists like the Shanghai Ballet not likely to be seen elsewhere in the United States.

"We have put a down payment on the Cubans and we want them here," she said.




Mars Music Venue Reverts Back To Coral Sky Name


Mars Music Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach, Florida, has returned to its
original Coral Sky Amphitheatre name, after the Mars Music superstore chain
broke its sponsorship ties with the 20,000-capacity Clear Channel-owned venue.
Print and broadcast ads promoting events began using the Coral Sky name August
23.

According to Coral Sky's Joe Nieman, new title sponsorship is being actively
sought.

Mars paid $3.3 million for naming rights in January 2000 to then-owner SFX
Entertainment and was to have expired in 2006. The $10 million outdoor venue
opened in April 1996. Eight Mars stores closed in January.

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