Sunday, January 11, 2009

Oh, What A Tangled Web We Weave!

Last month, I noted an blog entry by Christine Dolen about the return of Gary Waldman and Jamison Troutman to South Florida. In my article, I noted:
Waldman and Troutman have a ..colorful...history in South Florida. Insiders might describe them as having had a string of failed companies, and would probably ponder the list of designers and technicians left unpaid in the wake of unannounced closings. One hopes that those tales are exaggerated.
This resulted in some remarks made to me off-line by friends and co-workers, along the general lines that maybe I was being unfair to the producers. I do not believe that was the case; those stories have long been out there, and several former employees and associates have mentioned the nature of their relationship with Waldman and Troutman. And I did say that I hoped those stories were exaggerations. That's because I really was hoping that the stories were exagerrations.

It appears that they are not.

About the same time I was writing my article, Hap Erstein echoed similar sentiments to my own:
These two producing partners used to run the Atlantis Playhouse, which closed abruptly three years ago, leaving in its wake many distraught subscribers...

May I suggest you only buy single tickets?
Since then, the comments on Christine's original blog entry have drawn a number of commentators, and a lot of facts. And some angry bluster from Gary Waldman:
Why are the VAST, VAST majority of the actors, designers, etc., that we have worked with over the years working with us now, discussing future projects and flocking to our auditions?
Well, it's likely that none of those "vast, vast" numbers of actors will be members of Actors' Equity Association, where Waldman and Troutman apparently have been listed on the Fraudulent Producers list(unable to verify as of Jan 11, 2009). Nor will they be hiring any members of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, where Mr. Waldman appears on the Strike List, as updated on December 29, 2008.

STRIKE LIST
Members may not accept
employment from any theatre or
producer on the SSDC Strike List.

Drama Center, Inc.
Gary Waldman, Producer
Florida

In the April 20, 2005 edition of the Sun-Sentinel (complete article), the two were the subject of a story by Jack Zink entitled "DEBT CLAIMS, CLOSURES, ENMITY TRAIL THEATER PRODUCERS DUO SETTING UP SHOP AT HOLLYWOOD PLAYHOUSE." It recounts several failed ventures.
In a series of moves since 1995, Waldman -- with Troutman since 1999 -- has left behind disgruntled ticket holders, vendors, business associates or landlords.The list includes the Kaplan Jewish Community Center and the Cuillo Centre in West Palm Beach, the Rod & Gun Restaurant in Delray Beach, the Drama Center in Deerfield Beach, the Hollywood Playhouse, and former associates in New York, New Jersey and
Illinois.
In his responses on Christine's blog, he states that he was welcomed back by the theatre community. But he didn't mention if that included his former business associates:
The Glists, who continued their business relationship with Waldman, and another associate, Jay Harris, said they lost more than $100,000 in the year Waldman and Troutman ran the Wilton.
If Gary really wants to drive his point home, all he needs is a letter from the Glists or Jay Harris saying that they are delighted he's back, and they look forwared to working with him on something. How about it, Gary? Have Kathy or Alan give me a call; they have my number.

A poster known as "ssdcer" posted more quotes from the article. And how does Mr. Waldman respond?
To add, Mr./Ms. SSDCER, you have broken the law by plagiarizing a major daily newspaper and a published opinion page.
It's nice to see that Mr. Waldman has beens studying Copyright Law; it would have saved him recieving that "cease and desist" letter for using songs he hadn't licensed a few years back. I assume he resolved that matter, since he's since produced the show. Congratulations on that, Gary!

But what Gary didn't do is refute any of the points made by the article. Instead, he's threatened ssdcer with a lawsuit!
I have written a note to the independent counsel for the Sun-Sentinel/Tribune Publications. We were asked specifically by their attorney (after this matter was settled) to inform them of copyright infringement regarding any unauthorized copy and re-publication of their article, and were guaranteed that any such infringements would be pursued with legal action.

I will do the same when I determine the owner of the opinion page.

Of course, Waldman doesn't have the grounds for lawsuit; he doesn't own the copyright, so he has no legal standing in the matter of allegedly plagiarized material.

Now here's the interesting angle on this: if he's planning to sue for defamation of character, he might be able to file against ssdcer and the Herald, but he'd also have to sue the party he's gone to for help: the Sun-Sentinal/Tribune Publications. After all, ssdcer is only quoting the Sun-Sentinel article.

Which, by the way, ssdcer is allowed to do under the "fair use" exclusion in US Copyright Law.

Here are the four considerations for exclusion under Fair Use:
  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
Maybe Gary hasn't been studying copyright law after all. If he had, he'd know that it's perfectly legal to quote published sources with attribution in the manner we find on Christine Dolen's blog.

The thing is, I've never worked with Gary. He doesn't owe me anything. I have no stake in this whatsover. I'm not out to "get him." My agenda is and remains the advancement of theatre in our community.

And in these shaky financial times, another venue opening means more jobs. But those jobs only have value if you get paid for them. I'm not saying "don't work for Gary or Jamison." And I'm not saying "don't see their shows." I will cover them along with every other theatre in South Florida, and on the same terms. And I honestly do hope that they succeed. Successful theatre reflects well on the entire theatre community.

But we do have the right to know who we are dealing with, so we can take appropriate steps to protect our own interests. Prospective employees have the right to know that their prospective employers have defaulted on bonds intended to ensure that their actors and directors get paid. Patrons have a right to know that these producers have left advance ticket holders with no show to see.

And if Gary and Jamison are unhappy about that, well, they have only themselves to blame.

14 comments:

  1. Chris you say that we have a right to know who we are dealing with and I believe that you are correct, but why limit the scope to only Mr. Waldman and Mr. Troutman? Can you say that you have never lied or have been unable to pay a debt that you have owed either to an individual or a company? If you can answer that question yes, then count your lucky stars because fewer and fewer Americans are able to answer yes to that question in these financially unstable times. Have Mr. Waldman and Mr. Troutman had business ventures in the past that have failed? The answer to that question is a well documented yes, but it seems to me that a number of people that were working for them at the time that each of these businesses collapsed want to paint them with the same brush as the Enron Corporation. However is that the real story or even close to fair? Or is the truth that when their business collapsed each time that they were left with literally nothing and left in an even worse position than their employees?

    As far as Mr. Waldman's "angry bluster" as you phrased it. How would you react if some of the largest failures of you life kept being repeatedly brought up and broadcast to anyone who would listen? To be honest with you Chris I think that you would be just as touchy about this as Mr. Waldman is, if not worse. While Mr. Waldman and Mr. Troutman may have made some mistakes in the past I personally applaud their courage and determination. After all I believe the saying goes "you may have fallen on you face but at least you are moving in the right direction."

    Chris I think that it is also important to point out that some of the most notable people in history have the same or greater failures to their name in number magnitude or both. Don't believe me look up the history of Lincoln before his Presidency, Edison before the light bulb, and the list goes on. Point is it is unwise to pass judgement to early, especially with only one side of the story being told.

    I was the in-house Designer and TD when the Atlantis Playhouse closed and I will admit my life was turned upside down and I was angry about that for awhile. However I had to admit that Gary and Jamison did everything that they could to keep things going, including selling off personal possesions and taking out loans on their own personal credit. So to all of those that still hold a grudge over how you believe you were wronged please understand that, while you may not have seen it as up close and personal as I did, they really did everything they could to try to make it work. Also please grow up and take some responsibility for your role in what happened it is not like you did not know that they were a for-profit theatre and you could see the house sizes for yourselves if your bothered to pay any attention. My advice to all of you is to learn what you can from your experience, and move on with your lives. Or do you really believe that whining about how you were victimized and feeling sorry for yourself for another couple of years will make your life better?

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  2. Matt, if you'd read a little more carefully, you'd know that I have no axe to grind; they don't owe me money.

    And while you are correct in saying that some great business leaders have a failure or two behind them, Gary and Jamison have quite a large number of failed ventures to date. Gary is very talented, no one is disputing that. They've put on shows that audiences enjoy, and no one is disputing that either.

    The thing is, Matt, that Gary and Jamison haven't learned from their mistakes. That's why they keep going out of business over and over and over again. It's nothing less than business malpractice.

    Maybe they have, finally, turned over a new leaf. More power to them.

    I think that we have a right to know who we are dealing with. Actors have a right to know about what happened at the Imperial Casino, about what happened to the cast of I Write The Songs. Prospective business partners have a right to know what happened to the Glists and Jay Harris. Directors deserve to know that the SSDC has blacklisted Gary.

    I support theatre. It's my life, it's my heritage. But those who pursue this "theatre at any cost" mentality harm the entire theatre community; beyond the actors, technicians, and designers, it also affects how the business community views every theatre, and how vendors treat prospective clients in the arts. Every time Gary and Jamison crash and burn, they undermine our credibility with potential donors and partners.

    In these difficult economic conditions, we can't afford to rally around producers whose idea of financial planning is having a lot of stuff to hock.

    They have earned every criticism levied against them.

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  3. I was well advised, by none other than Kathi Glist herself that if I simply ignore you, you will go away, like the flu. I did, I ignored you all day and night and went on with my busy day. Kathi will not write or call you. Give it up. Can't let this one go though. Not when there were so many people who were so helpful to me today. But I will not read your page ever again. It is far too stupid for my taste;

    1. You know nothing. You have done no research to support your "facts" or you would know full well why the SSDC has beefs with me (don't know what you mean about me and Equity, sorry). The SSDC is an organization that I could "join" if I wish... just not employ. Why don't you invest in and produce a show, fire the director after he is paid in full for a HORRIBLE JOB and then be forced to re-employ the same director five years later even though you know FOR SURE that he is #1 unavailable for all but a few rehearsals and #2 STATED VERY CLEARLY that he would ensure that the new production was a complete disaster. I'll take the Producers' Strike listing over that again and again as would ANY producer. My customers (remember them? the ones who pay our rent) couldn't give a hoot. Jack Zink knew all about it and gave me these "very useful" words: "the man is such a putz." Believe me or don't believe me but if you, even for a moment believe that I would dare lie about the memory of one who so recently left us then you are the Devil Incarnate + an ass of the highest order.

    The bill to buy this horrendous director out of his contract was $1,500. PENNIES, especially in a pre-production period. It was purely principle. Post away... put it on a billboard. You know what, print the story as it actually happened and I'll put it in one of the exterior light boxes in front of my building. I am proud of that decision and Mr. Andy Rogow knows it.
    2. The stuation at the IP Casino (not the Imperial Casino, do some research Mr. Know it All)? WE DID NOT GET PAID! THEY WERE THE PRODUCERS ... look at the damned billboard idiot! That was the booking of a lifetime for us that might have allowed us to retire young if we so wished (we didn't). They stole our money. ALL OF IT. There are nine law firms in the glorious Bible belt trying to work this case out for us before the Statute of Limitations expires this coming May/June. We're fighting a private casino. Do you know who runs most "private" casinos. Go get your legs broken.

    4. Your parting words are vile, inhumane and sick. I will not justify them with any defense whatsoever. Anyone who can read those comments and continue to even so much as bookmark your page (unless they are seeking a way to shut down your filthy site) is equally demented.

    You claim to support theatre [sic]. Theater is, by nature a very risky business and it is on the verge of death because there are far too few of us willing to face the huge financial risk. Unless, of course, they get tons of free money from the government and private contributors. You consider yourself a professional yet do not accept that?

    On exactly which planet do you reside and is there a cozy litte house there for us? Have your agent call us, please.

    GARY WALDMAN signing off forever.

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  4. You really should take Kathi's advice. She gives great advice.

    The truth is, Gary, that you've made yourself look far worse than anything I've said, or ever intended to say. I've never called you one name, and I've never hurled anything like the invective that you've been spewing. You made it personal, not I.

    Maybe, instead of yelling at me because I remember the last 15 years and know a dozen of your former employees, you could tell us what steps you are taking to avoid a repetition of all these past ventures. Show us all that you've learned valuable lessons, and that you're taking steps to protect not just your audience, but your employees, too.

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    1. Well said and they continue to burn actors and employees they are horrible people that will get what they deserve

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  6. First of all Chris I did read your points all very carefully. Secondly I am already seeing that we can both do the condescending routine with each other, while that might be entertaining I really don't think that it is either mature or enlightening. I do remember even from the first reading of this blog that you stated very clearly that you have never worked for Gary and Jamison.

    I find it very interesting that in your response to me you managed to skip over the two questions that I asked you directly, in favor of once again pointing out the failures that I already conceded to. In case you do not remember the question I will ask them again:
    1. Are you saying that you never lied?
    2. Are you saying that you have never been unable to pay a debt to an individual or company?

    By your own admission you have spent a great deal of time around the art of theatre and, actor or not, I am sure that you are aware that the subtext between the lines is just as important as what is said. I personally believe that you do not want to admit to failing to tell the truth or repay a debt because that would take you down off of your pedastal, and persecution is so much harder to pull off sucessfully when you are no better than those you are accusing.

    Now before you go off on the entire rant of "I do not have an axe to grind, because they do not owe me money, blah, blah, blah" Considering you have admitted that these stories of Gary and Jamison are well known in the theatre community already, Why did you feel it neccessary to post as much on this as you have already? Again we are doing the between the lines thing. If these stories are wide spread as you claim then there must be another reason for you posting what you have.

    I have noticed something else, I will admit this is the 'Script analysis' part of my brain at work. You keep saying that you think that we have a right to know who we are dealing with. So who is it that you think you are dealing with? You seem to be having a very strong negative emotional reaction to two men you have never worked for, so who or what do you think they are? Some incarnation of evil? demons perhaps? what?

    You mentioned what happened at the Imperial Casino. If you mean the Imperial Palace in Biloxi, Mississippi, I think you are right, the actors do have a right to know, but considering I was there for the set up, and know first hand what happened at the IP. I can tell you it would not help your argument, but you could make a case for talent avoiding the IP.

    As far as Kathy and Alan Glist and Jay Harris and any other potential business partners are concerned I am sure that they are capable enough to do any research and draw up any contracts that are necessary to in order to make the best business deals possible. Again we are going to do the between the lines thing here so you can see your attitude is not flattering. Your assuming that you need to protect them which is insulting, especially considering the majority of information you have is either inaccurate or incomplete.

    As far as the directors are concerned if the director in question is part of the SSDC then I am sure that the union will inform their dues paying member of said status. If the director in question is not part of the SSDC their is probably a reason why, and more than likely will not care that Gary has been blacklisted. Now I know I am going to start sounding like a broken record here but, Why do you believe that these individuals can't make good decisions for themselves? I know that you did not say it but again if we are reading between the lines, pompous assumptions seem to permeate your argument.

    Let me show you what I mean:

    In the very beginning you assumed that I did not read what you had to say carefully.

    In the second section you assumed that Some great business leaders have one or two failures behind them. In fact most business leaders have far more failures than sucesses.

    In the third section you made a couple of assumptions. The first of which is that each of their business attempts failed for the same reasons and second that they didn't learn from each and everyone of those attempts. If you know anyone in a successful business, it might be a good idea to sit down with them and ask them exactly how many things could cause a business to fail.

    The fourth section is something I don't feel the need to comment on.

    The fifth section the you mention the "Imperial Casino" I have already devoted space to picking apart why you may be misguided.

    The sixth section you again make some pretty big assumptions. You assume that Gary and Jamison have the "Theatre at any cost" mentatlity. You assume how the community views not only the theatre in general but the closing of a specific theatre. You also assume that your credibility is affected by the closing of a theatre that is unrelated. That is like assuming every twenty-something year old black male is a criminal.

    The seventh section You assume that Gary and Jamison want the community to rally around them, and you assume that you know the extent of their financial plans of the past and present.

    Finally by saying that they earned every criticism against them. You assume that you know all the critcisms against them and also the criticisms that you do know of are all true and not blown out of proprotion.

    I do not know where you get your information but you might be able to learn something from a saying my mother told me.

    "there are three sides to every story; yours, mine, and the truth."
    Please think about it.

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  7. Matt-
    Of course I ignored you questions, because they are frankly irrelevant. But I will answer them to shut you up:
    1. I have never lied.
    2. I have never been unable to pay a debt.

    The rest of your comment basically falls under "you shouldn't report news." Sorry, Matt. None of the rest of your argument flies.

    It's great that they have one defender in the theatre community. That they can inspire such loyalty says more about them than anything I write. Good for you!

    But when people are so afraid of history, well, that only pushes me to dig.

    Here's the thing; if I dig around and find that they really have simply been the victim a dozen times over the last 15 years, well, that's what I'll report.

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  8. Ok Chris I have explained in detail exactly what problems I have with your argument. I went through point by point in order to be very clear. Yet instead of answering my points and telling me why you think I am wrong on each count you tell me that "none of the rest of my argument flies"

    If you are trying to get to the truth, don't you think that having a conversation with someone who worked for them for more than 2 years and who obviously has a different opinion than the dozen others that you have spoken to might be a good lead to accomplish that end. At bare minimum it would give you a more well rounded view of the situation.

    As far as being afraid of history, to be honest I think that is BS. Who is afraid of what has already happened? Doesn't it make more sense to be afraid of what is to come?

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  9. Matt, your comments are there for all to see. I'll address them as I add to my findings, but I'm not going to do it in the restrictive space of the comments section.

    And that's how it's going to be.

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  10. These crooks need to go to jail. They abuse the system and they abuse unsuspecting actors. True scumbags, and I will not be convinced otherwise.

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  11. The IP Casino was not the producer of "I Write the Songs". We, the actors, never got paid by the Casino because they were not producing. Our only two paychecks came from the "Arthur and Irvin" corporation (I still have the stubs if anyone cares to see them), and the money was only paid to the actors because one of the actors in the production sacrificed their paycheck. Gary and Jamison cried to said actor that they didn't have enough money to pay anyone, and they would pay said actor as soon as they could. Oh, and the $10,000 that was put into the project by someone I won't name.

    We weren't paid for our last week of rehearsal, and our contracts were not paid out. These two deserve to rot in jail.

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  12. I just worked for these two. VERY BAD EXPERIENCE. Still waiting on my last check. Chris, you put it in perspective

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  13. Crooks crooks crooks- Please do not support them - they are LIARS and will steal anyone's money- KARMA will get them!!!!

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