VENUE UPDATES: Russ Simons Joins HOK Sport+Event+Venue … And Much More!

Russ Simons, former general manager of Nashville's Gaylord Entertainment Center since its inaugural year in 1996, has joined HOK Sport+Event+Venue, an architectural firm specializing in public assembly facilities, in Kansas City, MO. Gaylord's Assistant GM Mike Wooley is serving as the interim GM.

Kodak Theater Stage Too Small For Oscar Orchestra

The stage of the new Kodak Theater, home of the Oscar Awards, was too small for the orchestra. The band was split in half with part of the orchestra below the stage and another part in the green room, where the musicians watched the show on closed-circuit television and played its parts through little microphones.

The New York Post reported that one orchestra member griped: "There's even an A list and a B list in the orchestra now."

Symphony Space Reopens In New York

Symphony Space on Broadway and 95th Street in New York has reopened with a $24 million facelift. The venue is actually two spaces: the 825-seat Peter Jay Sharp Auditorium, the main concert hall, and the 176-seat Leonard Nimoy Symphony Hall, the refurbished art movie house. Each venue has a separate entrance.

The dressing rooms have been upgraded, the restrooms enlarged, and a new concession stand constructed. The marquee, with its removable letters, has been replaced by a smooth, industrial steel facade.

For rental information, contact:

Patricia Sinnott, Booking Director

Telephone: 212 864 1414, x 213

Fax: 212 932 3228

Email: patricia.sinnott@symphonyspace.org

Dianne Reeves Appointed LA Philharmonic Creative Chair For Jazz

Jazz singer Dianne Reeves has been appointed to the newly created two-year post of creative chair for jazz by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. According to Philharmonic Executive Vice President/Managing Director Deborah Borda, reports the Los Angeles Times, Reeves is the first in what the orchestra hopes will be a series of jazz artists who will serve as "visiting professors" for two-year periods, to advise the orchestra on jazz programming; Reeves' programming input will be heard during the 2003 season.

This season however, she will join Oleta Adams and Tom Wopat, accompanied by the Terence Blanchard Quintet, in a salute to Billie Holiday, in the Wednesday Jazz at the Bowl series on July 17.

Anschutz To Finance Colorado’s First Full-Time Children’s Theater

LAKEWOOD (AP) – Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz controls more US movie theaters than anyone else does. He’s now financing entertainment on a smaller scale. Anschutz has agreed to pay for a multimillion-dollar school and theater that will be Colorado’s first year-round professional stage dedicated to live entertainment for children.

The Walden Family Playhouse is set to open in 2003 at the new Colorado Mills mall.

It is collaboration between Anschutz’s New York-based Walden Media and his Englewood-based United Artists. Renowned children’s television and stage producer Douglas Love will also be involved.

‘‘If we can make this work in Denver, I think it’s going to work successfully anywhere in the United States as a concept,’’ Walden chief executive officer Cary Granat said.

‘‘But our first priority is really making this work in Denver. This doesn’t work unless it becomes a cultural mainstay for the people of Denver.’’

The 476-seat facility, which will be one of the largest live theaters in the Denver area, will anchor the mall’s 16-screen United Artists theater at the intersection of Interstate 70, West Colfax Avenue and Indiana Street.

The Walden Family Playhouse will present at least five original musical productions each year by a professional company of local and national actors and technicians.

The entertainment will be produced with the intention of touring nationally.

The playhouse also will offer year-round classes for children in subjects ranging from creative dramatics to acting for the camera.

The operation will be headed by Love, who co-founded a successful children’s theater school in Vail a decade ago and went on to create the Disney Channel’s popular ‘‘Out of the Box’’ children’s television show.

‘‘It certainly is a dream job for me,’’ Love said. ‘‘I truly believe the most effective way of changing kids’ lives is (through) live performance.’’

The Walden Family Playhouse will not be as large or have the same budget as top children’s theaters in Minneapolis and Seattle, but officials said its new facility and the quality of its performances would compare favorably.

Donald Trump Opens Calif. Casino

COACHELLA, CA (AP) — Donald Trump opened a $60 million casino on an Indian reservation after failed attempts to work with other tribes.

The Trump 29 Casino opened Tuesday on the Twentynine Palms Reservation near Coachella, about 130 miles southeast of Los Angeles. It marks the first time in Southern California a tribal casino opened under a non-Indian name.

"When you open your doors, you really don't know if they will come," Trump said. "When they really come, you know it's going to be that way forever. We're going to have a beautiful love fest."

Although the casino opened, Trump still needs to secure a five-year management agreement to run the operation. The pact has not received the required approval of the National Indian Gaming Commission.

Tribal attorney Gene Gambale said he expects Trump's contract to clear any hurdles and be approved shortly.

Tribal Chairman Dean Mike said the Twentynine Palms tribe chose Trump to manage the casino because of his name recognition and expertise in running casinos.

"It was a giant step (for) the tribe to associate with Trump," Mike said. "We are going to be able to learn from him and grow with him."

The opening of the 100,000-sqaure-foot casino comes as Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts Inc.'s year-end report revealed the company has financial problems.

The company, which has four other casino ventures, began asking bondholders five months ago to accept lower interest rates and to extend maturities, but the bondholders have not agreed to any debt restructuring.

Tribe Finally Gets Clearance to Finish Amphitheater

AUBURN (AP) — The Muckleshoot Indian Tribe began building its 20,000-seat concert amphitheater in 1997.

Now, five years and several traffic and fish studies later, the tribe has been cleared to finish it.

Officials at the Bureau of Indian Affairs have completed a final environmental impact statement that confirms the findings of earlier drafts — that the south King County project has no major traffic or environmental problems that cannot be solved.

The tribe now must obtain two permits to finish the partly completed project two miles east of Auburn. A permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is required for filling in a third of an acre of wetlands, and the state Transportation Department must approve access from the 98-acre site to busy Washington 164.

Construction could resume as early as May. Completion is expected to take about seven months, plus an additional two to three months to set up equipment and other amenities.

Backers want to open the amphitheater for next year's concert season. It is expected to attract 30 to 40 musical events a year and showcase community and cultural events.

Opponents say the final environmental study is inadequate and that they're determined to fight the permits.

"They have just rewritten the same stuff they had before with some extra fluff,'' said Janet Devlin, co-chairwoman of the Enumclaw-area Citizens for Safety and Environment.

"Every issue related to the amphitheater has been thoroughly examined and evaluated,'' said tribal attorney Rob Otsea. “The tribe bent over backward to try to deal with the issues (the opponents) raised. Some people are never going to be satisfied.''

The report details plans for handling traffic during events at the $30 million-plus White River Amphitheater and for easing environmental impact.

The site would have parking for 6,170 vehicles, with an additional 780 spaces and free shuttle service from the SuperMall of the Great Northwest to reduce local traffic.

The project would include four driveways into the site, new turn lanes on Washington 164, special temporary signs and officers — provided by the amphitheater — directing traffic at entrances during and after events.

A 1.8 percent tax on gross ticket sales would provide money for a "community mitigation fund'' to offset local impact.

The final environmental report includes biological opinions released in January by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The agencies assessed the amphitheater's effect on chinook salmon and bull trout in the White River and its tributaries. The fish are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

The agencies said the amphitheater will degrade the local environment, but not enough to threaten the fish with extinction.

FedEx Corp. Naming Rights

MEMPHIS, TN – FedEx Corporation will pay the city and county $2-1/2 million a year for the remainder of a 25-year naming rights contract on a new downtown arena should the Grizzlies leave Memphis before then. The resolution, included in a thick packet of 13 arena-funding measures to be considered by the County Commission, does not specify what Memphis-based FedEx would pay the Grizzlies for arena naming rights.

The fee still is under negotiation, FedEx spokesman Jesse Bunn said. He said only the $2.5 million to be paid annually to the city and county is "separate and distinct from any figure that we would negotiate" with the Grizzlies.

FedEx reportedly offered as much as $100 million to name the arena and the NBA team that relocated to Memphis last year. But the NBA rejected the idea of selling naming rights for the team. FedEx has since agreed to pay for naming rights for only the arena.