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VENUE NEWS: Dan Smith New GM House Of Blues Cleveland (more news)

CLEVELAND, OH (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — House of Blues Entertainment has appointed Dan Smith general manager of the forthcoming House of Blues Cleveland. He will be responsible for the overall financial and operational success of the entertainment venue, scheduled to open later this year. House of Blues Cleveland will serve as an anchor tenant for the East Fourth Street Project, a mixed-use redevelopment with entertainment, retail and residential components in downtown Cleveland.

Smith comes to Cleveland from House of Blues New Orleans where, as general manager, he led his team to an unprecedented year of record sales. Prior to joining the team in New Orleans, Smith acted as the director of venue operations at House of Blues Orlando.

"House of Blues is committed to providing Cleveland with a new and exciting entertainment and dining destination," said Smith. "Cleveland has been a vital part of this country's musical heritage, and we look forward to playing a big part in that cultural essence with the opening of House of Blues in this spirited and dynamic city. House of Blues is honored to be involved with MRN, Ltd. in the development of the East Fourth Street Project."

The seven-year House of Blues veteran brings to Cleveland more than 36 years of experience in the food and beverage field, including stints as an executive chef, and is a licensed Certified Food & Beverage Executive who has served in numerous managerial capacities with many large hotel chains.

"Dan Smith is a proven leader at the House of Blues," said Dolf Berle, COO of House of Blues Entertainment, Inc. "He has developed tremendous organizational, motivational and technical skills in his previous leadership roles in Orlando and New Orleans. Dan represents the blend of passion and expertise that makes a great House of Blues General Manager."

"My family and I are looking forward to becoming members of the greater Cleveland community, as is the entire company," said Smith. "It has been a thrilling experience in searching for the right leadership team for Cleveland, and I am fired up about the group that is developing. Cleveland rocks!" –Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen

Carrier New GM Of Shreveport Convention Center

SHREVEPORT, LA (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Mike Carrier is the new general manager of the SMG-managed Shreveport (LA) Convention Center. He recently was president and CEO of the Knoxville (TN) Convention and Visitors Bureau. He has almost 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry, including serving as executive director of convention and visitors bureaus in both Greenville and Columbia, SC, as well as occupying sales positions with Hyatt and Sheraton hotels. –Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner

Vella New GM Of Ford Park

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Allan Vella is the new general manager of SMG's Ford Park in Beaumont, TX. replacing Roger Newton. Vella recently served as general manager of the SMG-managed Saginaw County Events Center, in Saginaw, MI. His 18 years of industry experience includes serving as vice president of business development for North American Sports, LLC, general manager with Olympia Entertainment and director/GM of the Glen Falls Civic Center. –Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen

Mountain Laurel Center Fends Off Grim Reaper

BUSHKILL, PA (AP) — Officials at the Mountain Laurel Center for the Performing Arts have fended off the reaper, at least for now.

The $35 million performing arts center, which ran out of money earlier this year only a few months after its gala opening, reopened Thursday night. The center's Tom Ridge Pavilion hosted the classic rock band Blue Oyster Cult – known for the hit single "(Don't Fear) The Reaper."

Chief executive Richard Bryant has said he expects 10,000 concert-goers or more over the weekend, which will feature shows by B.B. King and The Beach Boys.

"This is the first step of the workout. The strategy is we have to open it and we have to fix it," Bryant said.

The center's debt has been paid down from about $9 million to $6 million over the last four months, thanks in part to receipt of a $1.3 million federal grant, state Rep. Kelly Lewis said. The center is counting on another $1.6 million in pledges made by local supporters and businesses.

Mountain Laurel had shuttered in December, forcing the cancelation of summer concerts by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

The center opened in August 2003 to great fanfare on the 675-acre wooded site of Unity House, a lakeside retreat for the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union from the early 1900s until its abandonment in 1989. Officials had hoped the defunct resort about 95 miles west of New York City would be reborn as a fine arts venue for classical and contemporary music, dance and Broadway-style theater.

Officials Praise South Dakota State Fair's Opening Day

HURON (AP) — After several years of dwindling attendance, people packed the midway and crammed into the grandstand on Saturday — the opening day of the South Dakota State Fair.

"I've never seen an opening like it," fair commissioner Ed Goss said. "This is super, and it's not even Labor Day."

More than 7,000 people bought tickets for the Martina McBride concert Saturday night.

Last year, Kenny Rogers drew a crowd of about 4,500 — a large audience for the fair, fair manager Susan Hayward said.

Ryan Becker, 19, of Center, Neb., drove about three hours to see McBride and Gretchen Wilson, who warmed up the crowd before McBride's show.

"Initially, I was excited to see Gretchen Wilson, but Martina has a lot of hits out that added to it," Becker said. "It made the drive worth it."

Ticket sales have been strong for other grandstand performances, too, Hayward said.

At least 2,000 tickets have been sold for the Charley Pride show scheduled for Wednesday, she said. Ticket sales have also been strong for the grand finale on Saturday, Sept. 11, which features four different groups, Hayward said.

Scheduled to appear in that show are Dustin Evans of Wessington Springs, Larry the Cable Guy, Sugar Ray and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

In an effort to boost attendance, Secretary of Agriculture Larry Gabriel moved the 2004 fair's opening date to before Labor Day. Since 2000, the fair has been in late July and early August.

Hayward said fair officials have had some good response to the change.

The 1,256 camping spots are taken, and there are nearly 400 vendors on the grounds.

"I'm really optimistic," Hayward said.

Milt and Margie Oehlerking of Fort Pierre have been visiting the fair for more than 60 years.

"I think it looks like a pretty good turnout," Margie Oehlerking said on opening day. "I hope they keep the fair going."

"They've talked about how the fair has been slipping. I think it's coming back," Milt Oehlerking added.

Deb Pehrson of Osseo, Minn., a first-time vendor at the fair, said she was impressed with the number of people walking the fairgrounds Saturday.

"I think there is a nice crowd here — a nice, steady traffic all day," said Pehrson, a co-owner of Wood of a Kind, which sells furniture made from reclaimed teak wood.

Blue Man Group Opens Got Pizza Music Cafes

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Blue Moon Group Inc. has launched its new business model Got Pizza Music Cafes. Over the last several months, Blue Man Group has opened several prototype locations in Chicago and Florida to test its concept and profitability of its new concept. "Over the last several months we have opened and tested our new business model and the results were staggering," said Michael Muzio, CEO of Blue Moon Group. "Each location far exceeded its initial revenue and customer projections. Based on a three month average, each location produced over $10,000 per week in weekly gross sales and an average of 212 customers per day."

Blue Moon Group will expand its new model to 50 locations in 2005 and 250 locations by 2006. This new model will allow Blue Moon Group and its music labels to reach over 19 million consumers per year and expose them to its own artists and music. This type of exposure and potential sales will propel Blue Moon Group to be a dominant force in the music industry.

Blue Moon Group has cancelled its letters of intent with Florida Studio and Platinum Hill Studios to devote all of its resources to this new project.

Blue Moon Group is a holding company with subsidiaries providing services to the music, entertainment and film industries. It is an emerging music and entertainment company engaged in the development, production and distribution of various types of music including pop, rock, R&B, hip hop, dance and country.

Blue Moon Group recently signed a music distribution deal with Brody/Sony Red. –Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen

GOP Convention Bops Business On Broadway

NEW YORK (AP) — All those delegates to the Republican National Convention didn't do Broadway box offices much good.

Grosses last week during the GOP festivities at Madison Square Garden were off 20 percent from the same week a year ago and attendance slumped 18 percent, according to figures released Tuesday by the League of American Theatres and Producers.

But then the Aug. 30-Sept. 2 convention was followed by the Labor Day weekend, usually one of the worst times for business on Broadway.

The total weekly gross declined to $10.91 million, down from $13.8 million for the same period a year ago, while attendance slipped to 163,977, down from 201,670 in 2003.

"Last week's business results, although not surprising, were disappointing for the industry," league President Jed Bernstein said. "Several shows saw sharp declines."

Hardest hit were productions that have been struggling all summer, including revivals of "Wonderful Town" and "Fiddler on the Roof" as well as "Golda's Balcony," the one-woman show about Golda Meir starring Tovah Feldshuh.

Even several usually potent box-office performers such as "Mamma Mia!" and "The Lion King" slipped a bit, although the latter still took in a hefty $917,339.

There were a few bright spots. "The Boy From Oz," heading toward Hugh Jackman's final performance Sept. 12, set another house record at the Imperial Theatre, grossing $1,085,923. Also over the million-dollar mark was "Wicked," taking in more than $1.2 million. "Avenue Q," the 2004 Tony winner for best musical, was down from its previous week's take but still managed to gross $425,084 and play to 87 percent capacity at the small Golden Theatre.

"Happily, the results do little to diminish the strong year-to-date momentum, with which we approach the new season," Bernstein said.

Season-to-date attendance for the year is up more than 7 percent, jumping from more than 2.91 million in 2003 to more than 3.12 million so far in 2004. And total grosses have risen, too, climbing from $192,632,683 at this point in 2003 to $205,904,924 so far this year.