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VENUE NEWS: The Bottom Line Shutters For Good

(CelebrityAccess News Service) – The Bottom Line in Greenwich Village, New York officially closed on January 22. Its last shows were Janis Ian/ Richie Havens on January 9 and "Ribbon of Highway, Endless Skyway : A Concert in the Spirit of Woody Guthrie" featuring Jimmie LaFave, Slaid Cleaves, Eliza Gilkyson, Sarah Lee Guthrie, Johnny Irion, The Burns Sisters and narrated by Bob Childers on January 10.

The Bottom Line opened almost 30 years ago with a preview concert on February 11, 1974 with LaBelle and the official opening night on February 12 with Dr. John/Gary Farr. Highlights of opening night included a jam session with Dr. John, Stevie Wonder and Johnny Winter in front of an audience that included Mick Jagger, Carly Simon, Bette Midler, Charles Mingus, Janis Ian, Billy Cobham, Don Kirshner, James Darren, Rip Torn, Geraldine Page and Bobby Charles.

The Bottom Line had been in a continuing battle with its landlord, New York University, for the past few months over back rent and a future lease. Even with commitments from Sirius Satellite Radio, AT&T, Bruce Springsteen and Mel Karmazin, the Bottom Line and NYU could not reach an agreement to continue at 15 West 4th Street. NYU says that it plans to use the 400-capacity space for classrooms in its ever expanding Lower Manhattan development.

The Bottom Line posted the following on its website on January 22:

"After almost thirty years of bringing a wide variety of exciting and innovative artists to the stage at the corner of West 4th and Mercer, The Bottom Line will be closing its doors for the last time today."

"We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our extraordinary friends and supporters who have rallied around us during these difficult last six months: our incredible staff who are like family, the wonderful musicians who have vowed not to let our legacy be forgotten, and the kindness of strangers who created websites, wrote letters, signed petitions, sent gifts, bought T-shirts and came to the club to show their support. "

"Most of all, we want to thank our families for making a very painful and surreal experience a bit more bearable. We would not have been able to get through this without your love and support."

"When we opened The Bottom Line on February 12, 1974, our goal was to create a Music Room not a jazz, rock or folk club but a venue where many different genres could find an audience. The Bottom Line has always been about the music, and we find fulfillment in knowing that we have stayed the course and remained true to our vision."

"Most importantly, we are proud to have provided a stage where new acts grew to become familiar friends, where unknown acts became super stars, where pioneers and innovators could stake their claim, where acts who were tentative could fail, fall on their faces and then could come back and learn to do it the right way, where established acts who were no longer the flavor of the month could maintain their dignity and nurture their creativity from a loyal audience who would sit and listen to every note in the intimacy of The Bottom Line and then react as if they were in a stadium 10,000 times its size, where artists who had lost their way could find an audience who were not judgmental but always open to something new because they love the music, and it was a stage where artists who only drew dozens of people were encouraged to build an audience that ultimately extended to lines around the block, and it was always there for artists who deserved to be heard because of their amazing talent as opposed to their box office draw. For all those things and more, the stage at The Bottom Line was special."

"We hope that The Bottom Line has meant something in your lives, and it has given you as much joy as it has for us in presenting the extraordinary artists that have performed on our stage. We take enormous pleasure in knowing that over the last thirty years we have increased the world's potential for music."

"Allan and Stanley

January 22, 2004"

–Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen

Bright House Networks Acquires Florida Stadium Naming Rights

(CelebrityAccess News Service) – BrightHouse Networks has acquired the naming rights to the new $28 million, 8,500-capacity baseball stadium in Clearwater, FL. Financial terms were not disclosed for the 10-year deal that includes two five-year renewal options.

BrightHouse Networks Field , scheduled to open in February, will serve as spring training home to the Philadelphia Phillies in addition to the minor-league Clearwater Threshers. –Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner

RCA Dome To Keep Name For At Least Five Years

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The RCA Dome will not be changing its name anytime soon as Thomson, RCA's parent company, plans to pick up a contract option to keep the stadium's naming rights for five more years.

Thomson announced Friday that it would accept the first of two five-year options, which calls for the company to pay the city $1.3 million a year for naming rights to the dome. That option will keep RCA's logo on the stadium that is home to the Indianapolis Colts through June 2009, said Thomson spokesman Dave Arland.

Thomson this month made the final $1.2 million payment under the original deal that paid the city roughly $10 million over 10 years, he said.

"We had until the end of June before the contract ended. But with all the attention the Colts are getting with the great season they've had, we thought it made sense to go ahead and announce this now," Arland said.

Barney Levengood, executive director of the dome and the adjoining Indiana Convention Center, said should Thomson exercise the naming rights option, payments totaling $6.5 million over five years would go to the convention center's general fund.

"We have a contract, and we intend to honor our contract," Levengood said.

The rights fee Thomson will pay is less than that being paid in some other recent corporate-naming deals for sports stadiums.

Conseco Inc. has an agreement to pay $2 million annually over 20 years to put its name on Conseco Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers. And U.S. Cellular is paying $68 million over 20 years for the naming rights to the home field of the Chicago White Sox.

Thomson has the right to end is sponsorship deal of the RCA Dome if the Colts were to leave for another facility.

"If something were to change, certainly we would sit down and negotiate to see whether we think it's worth it," Arland said. "But that would involve a lot of specifics that don't exist right now, which makes any speculation impossible."

Stroman Brings Magic To Lincoln Center

NEW YORK (AP) — It sounded like a match made in heaven. And it is.

When the New York City Ballet commissioned Broadway choreographer Susan Stroman ("The Producers," "Oklahoma!") to create a ballet for George Balanchine's centennial season, the idea was to honor the contributions of Balanchine — for decades the artistic genius of City Ballet — to the Broadway theater.

Stroman has done that, and more. She has created a hugely entertaining, often wildly funny show that lives up to all expectations. What's more, she has crafted a showcase for City Ballet's dancers to act their hearts out like they rarely get to do. It's hard to tell who's having more fun: the audience, or these performers who have such big grins on their faces as they combine classical technique with Broadway showmanship.

Who thought, for example, that Kyra Nichols, the senior stateswoman of the company, could have such a delicious time playing a nasty, materialistic, flapper-era version of Cinderella's stepmom?

And Damian Woetzel, one of the top male dancers in the company, has always been known for his virtuoso leaps and turns. But set him loose in a tux as a dashingly confident matinee idol, and his performance turns truly astounding.

There are also terrific performances by Tom Gold as a Charlie Chaplin-like fellow overwhelmed by the comic circumstances enveloping him (and who wouldn't be overwhelmed when they're being frantically chased to the altar by dozens of brides, some of them in drag?) and by Ashley Bouder as the abandoned daughter of a beautiful dancer.

But we'd also be remiss not to mention the dog — a Boston terrier named Pi, to be precise — who steals the show at several moments. At Friday night's opening, this performing pooch missed one of his exits, suddenly becoming engrossed in a small object lying on the stage. A pair of hands finally reached out to drag him into the wings. And the audience laughed even harder.

"Double Feature," set to music by Irving Berlin and Walter Donaldson, pays homage to the silent-film era. Robin Wagner's sets and William Ivey Long's costumes are all in black and white (with one prominent exception, not to be revealed here); the dialogue-narration is projected on a screen high above the action.

First up in this "double feature" is "The Blue Necklace," the saga of Dorothy Brooks (Maria Kowroski), a 1920's chorus line dancer who has a "dark secret" — she's pregnant. To avoid losing her job, she leaves her baby daughter on the steps of a church, with a blue glass necklace tucked inside.

The baby is taken in by Mr. Griffith, a well-enough meaning fellow. But his wife is of a less charitable sort. She had sent him out to leave their own new infant on the steps; now they have two. Dorothy's daughter, Mabel, becomes the Cinderella character, treated more like a servant to both Mrs. Griffith and to Florence, her nasty stepsister. Eleven-year-old Tara Sorine, a student at the School of American Ballet, is delightful as the young Mabel, who dances all day as she dusts and sweeps.

Years later, Dorothy, now a glamorous movie star, invites Manhattan society to a party at her town house, with matinee idol Billy Randolph (Woetzel) the guest of honor. The nasty Mrs. Griffith and her awkward Florence (now 17, danced by a sweetly funny Megan Fairchild) have come to gawk. Discovering Dorothy's "dark secret," Mrs. Griffith tries to pass Florence off as the long-lost daughter. Billy dances a duet with the ungainly Florence, and the hilarious result — all missed leaps and tangled arms and legs — is pure gold. But then the real Mabel (Bouder) shows up, and the real dancing begins.

The second ballet, "Makin' Whoopee," is more madcap caper than melodrama. Gold is Jimmie Shannon, who can't get up the nerve to propose to Anne (a charming Alexandra Ansanelli). When a relative leaves him $7 million — on the condition that he marry that very day — the wacky race begins.

It's pure silliness that follows, and Stroman is on very sure ground here, her comic timing simply flawless. As the deadline approaches and the number of bridal candidates multiplies, Jimmie finds himself pursued by a posse of brides, back and forth across the stage. Gold's frantic, cartoonlike running leaps are choreographic brilliance.

"Double Feature" is a tough ticket this season, with only seven scheduled performances. Let's hope it will soon join the regular repertory. Let's also hope that City Ballet signs a long-term contract with that little Boston terrier.

Former Steelers Ticket Employee Sentenced For Tax Evasion

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Brian J. Bonifate admitted in federal court that he failed to pay taxes on $480,000 he earned from scalping tickets to the 1996 Super Bowl. Prosecutors said he sold extra tickets to the game issued to the Steelers at inflated prices, then later hid the proceeds in a safe at his home.

Police found the money after arresting him on charges of impersonating a police officer. The Steelers suspended Bonifate after his arrest and he later chose not to return, according to the team. The charges of impersonating a police officer were eventually dismissed.

Bonifate, who pleaded guilty in September, eventually refiled his 1996 taxes and repaid about $200,000 in back taxes, prosecutors said.