Friday, March 27, 2009

Waldman Gone Wild!

This is the comment appended to the Miami Herald's article about Gary Waldman's latest theatrical venture:


Gary Waldman is his own worst enemy: first, he doesn't secure the funding for his theatre project, then the project falls apart. Then he blames someone else.

Sadly, this isn't the first time Gary Waldman and Jamison Troutman brought a group of actors far from their homes, and then abandoned them. The show was I WRITE THE SONGS, and the hall was the Imperial Palace Casino. Troutman and Waldman maintain it is the Casino's fault that the cast of the show was unpaid and abandoned in Mississippi.
I've felt jaded and turned off ever since this Mississippi debacle. For those of you who don't know, my cast of "I Write The Songs" got stiffed by our producers, a couple of old queerbags named Gary Waldman and Jamison Troutman. DON'T EVER WORK FOR THESE JERKS..
- Ryan Flanigan, actor
Those are the words of Ryan Flanigan, whom I contacted in January after Gary and Jamison claimed they didn't owe any actors any money. So I contacted Ryan, and asked if he's received any of the pay they owe him:
They sure as hell did not. They haven't paid any of us. Bunch of frauds. They are trying to do another show too.
I'm sure they've done several since the mess in Biloxi. Waldman maintains that it's because the Imperial Palace Casino reneged on an agreement, and he claims that there is an ongoing lawsuit over the matter. But the real issue is who signed a contract with these performers: the Casino, or Waldman and/or Troutman?

For the sake of argument, let's assume that perhaps Waldman and Troutman shouldn't be held responsible for leaving the cast of I Write the Songs in the lurch: maybe theey really were merely acting as agents for the casino. (And 'maybe I look good in a size two evening gown,' I know, but this is for the sake of argument.) One would think, that having been burned once by not having the funds in the bank to cover actors' wages and transportation costs, they'd make damned sure to have those funds secure for the next production.

Which brings us to The Life.

On March 10, the cast of The Life flew arrived in South Florida. Not one of them is a member of a performer's union. Like most begininning actors, they didn't have a long resumé of shows under the belt. Nevertheless, the theatre's recorded messages announced "a production starring a first-rate, blockbuster cast of actors out of New York!"

Jasmine Torres reported that the theatre was a mess when the cast arrived, with trash strewn in the house. Some performers were a little nervous that their first paycheck was drawn on someone's personal account instead of a proper company check with a paystub. But work continued. The promised transportation never appeared: the actors were informed that it was "only a fifteen minute walk."

Rehearsals continued.

The South Florida Blade interviewed the boys during that first week of rehearsal:
Waldman and Troutman, who are running the theater as a for-profit company, a rarity in the performing arts, are betting on the appeal of the play (along with a New York cast) years later in a larger community and theater.
A bold move in a troubled economy! But there's more:
Waldman said they haven’t decided what shows they will stage after “The Life” ends its run, to allow an open-ended run if the show is a hit.
The article ends with a quote from Waldman:
“The theater is a local production house, but it’s also a place to give birth to a ‘product’. We’ll run it here as long as we can then we’ll take it national (on tour) or back to New York,” he says.
Tuesday night, Jamison Troutman informed the cast that the show was being canceled because they lost their funding, and that no one was getting paid, and that he and Gary weren't sure how they were going to get the actors home. The cast hadn't seen Waldman since the weekend.

As anyone in theatre can tell you, non-union actors live from paycheck to paycheck. Not getting paid is a disaster. Not getting paid means you don't eat.

Jasmine Torres worried that Troutman wouldn't give any of the cast an idea of when they might get something to at least tide them over, or what the timetable for flying them home was. So she called her agent back in New York, to see if he could do anything. She had found the job on her own, so the agent hadn't been involved in negotiating the contract, and wasn't collecting a fee, but who was going to find answers? Her agent agreed to make some calls.

According to Torres, her agent reported that Waldman screamed a string of obscenities over the phone before hanging up. Waldman then called Torres and informed her that by going to her agent, she had terminated her contract: he was no longer obligated to pay her, house her, or send her home.

That's when Torres went on the internet to find someone who could help her and her castmates: she wrote me, The Miami Herald, several members of the Theatre League, some folks with Broadway Across America, Hap Erstein, and several other reporters.

You may recall that I spoke with Jamison Troutman yesterday, to find out what was going on, and his version of events was very different:
"They've all been met with, and they know that we're doing what we can to take care of them. I suppose it's possible that one or two of them isn't happy with that."
Today, I spoke with Jasmine Torres, and asked her if anyone from 26th Street had met with her after she and I had talked. She was very firm:
"We haven't heard from anyone. They never stated they intended to pay us, or gave us any indication they were working on flights. And now they're saying that we're the reason the show closed!"
Now that seems hard to believe, but the Miami Herald also reports:
Waldman said he intends to pay the actors' wages and airfare to return home, but he blamed them for delaying his efforts with phone calls and e-mails.
And then Gary himself appended a comment to the article:
...these people were HORRIBLE. Selfish, completely un-directable (yet needing all of the help they could get), lazy, worthless, no-nothing creeps. We closed the show because it was AWFUL. I would not put my name on it (nor take a customer's money for it) even if it meant going through this, which was no surprise. No surprise at all."
So much for his "cast of blockbuster stars." Of course, this doesn't jibe with their telling The Blade that they were thinking of keeping it running; the article appeared over week after rehearsals started. Even after a few days, they should have had an idea if the show was in trouble.

But let's say that Gary is actually being honest with us, and that his entire cast was completely inept. Who cast these people? Gary Waldman cast them. So who's to blame if they suck? Gary Waldman.

But in fact, the quality of their work is not an issue in the current debacle: the point here is that he hasn't paid the actors that he flew in from out of state. Period. Actors in rehearsal can't have any impact on a show's funding. How could they? No one can see them, no one can decide not to buy tickets on the basis of a performance they haven't seen. Either Gary had the funds in hand, or he didn't. And it's very obvious that, once again, he didn't. How do I surmise that? Because he hasn't paid his actors.

I'm still trying to figure out how it is the actors didn't have return flights available: it's much cheaper to book round trip than one way: so they should all have had return flights available. What happened to those return tickets? Were they cashed in to help the company's cash flow?

And here's another point to ponder; Gary and Jamison have produced this show (to great acclaim) in South Florida, with South Florida based actors (who were criticially praised): curious that they decided to cast mostly out of state when they garnished so much critical praise with locals last time.

Well, interestingly enough, one of the comments to the Herald article speaks to this question:
My wife was the original Queen in their first production of The Life and then in The Last Session. They are in debt to her for over $1000.00 which they will not pay. The reason they went with "out-of-towners" for this show is because no local talent will work for them. Now you know why. My wife and I will be more than happy to back you guys up. I am sure you will find more people to help.
Maybe Gary is avoiding you, but The South Florida Theatre Scene isn't. Leave us a comment.

Speaking of comments on the Herald article, Gary posted back about an hour later:

It's a shame he didn't agree to meet with the police when they were out there on Thursday. They wanted to meet with him and get his side of the story. Instead, Gary screamed at Officer Sweat and hung up on her. The good news is that NBC6 had a camera crew out there, and interviewed the cast in the living room. We can all view the tape to see if, in fact, there was a large LCD television in there. We can also watch Officer Sweat's end of the conversation as Gary told her to "butt out" from his business.

I'm really looking forward to reading that police report. I'll post it when I get a hold of it.

After that phone call, the police told the cast members that they would do some extra patrols, because they agreed that the cast probably was right to be concerned that someone "that emotionally engaged" might "act out."

The police on duty also took up a collection and bought some food for the actors, who didn't have any money on them since they hadn't been paid. According to Jasmine Torres, it was the police who "strongly suggested" that the actors contact friends and family for help getting out of the situation "as quickly as possible."

I spoke to Jasmine Torres this afternoon: she was calling from an airport during a layover on her flight home. A flight her family helped pay for, and she arranged herself.
"We, the rest of the cast and me, we just want to do whatever we can to make sure these guys can't do this again. They're crazy! The things they said to us. They told us that since we complained, that meant we terminated our contracts and they didn't have to pay us! That they no longer owed us anything! This isn't how producers are supposed to treat people. We just want to make sure that everyone knows about these con artists. They shouldn't be allowed to do this."
You're right, Jasmine. They shouldn't be allowed to do this. Not again and again and again. Everybody makes mistakes: but these two are making the same mistakes over and over and over again, and they are doing damage, real damage.

I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that transporting people to another state with the promise of employment while knowing that there isn't money in the bank to cover their salaries must constitute fraud at some level or other. And if it doesn't, it ought to.

The good news is that word is starting to get out. My articles on Gary and Jamison have been in the top ten most-read pages on The Scene since they were published. Now it's time to make sure that theatre professionals know to research producers who want to transport them far from home before accepting those non-union out of town gigs.

Tell your friends.
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17 comments:

  1. I gave up with those crooks. The contract for I Write The Songs was between the cast and Waldman/Troutman, with no out clause for unseen circumstances. Whatever beef with the casino they have was irrelevant. Lawyers advised me that even if I sued the corporation they set up for the show, it would be fruitless because it was bankrupt. Some justice system right? They set up a corporation for every show they fail. Waldman tries to play the whole holier than thou bit about what a hard luck guy he is trying to produce theatre that he loves, but it's all bullshit. They are a bunch of scumbags who abuse the law. One day they will get their just desserts, and I hope it is soon. Feel free to employ my help in efforts against them. I warn them not to come to NYC again. Us dumb actors won't be caught off guard again.

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    1. hello!!! how do we contact you? please

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  2. Why is it these guys aren't buying their safety on cell block C with smokes while they pay off their debt to society for the very real fraud they continue to perpetuate? Seriously, someone must know a guy who knows a guy that will guarantee this NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN! This is Miami for crying out loud.

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  3. My name is Ron Hutchins. These guys offered me a contract as choreographer for The Life and wanted me to recreate the previous choreographers work. He is a wonderful choreographer and I refused to copy his work and informed these producers that I was a member of Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. They never contacted me after that.

    As a Carbonell Award recipient for my work in Five Guys Named Moe, I have been fortunate enough to Direct and Choreograph several shows at 26th Street Theatre. The theatre itself is a wonderful venue. The location is perfect and it is an ideal space for producers who will respect it's exsistance.

    I am saddened that these talented actors came from New York and had to endure what is NOT representative of South Florida Theatre. We are a rich community with wonderful producers, actors and theatre's: Actors Playhouse, Florida Stage, Caldwell Theatre, Mosaic Theatre New Vista and Gable Stage to name a few . Obviously the producers under the microscope are unscrupulous and don't deserve to produce theatre or to have the space.

    I stand by my fellow actors . We must all have a clear understanding that performers are guided by passion and most live from paycheck to paycheck. It is unfair for any producer to treat an artist with anything less than integrity and respect. It is imperative for artists and producers to have a healthy relationship.

    As artists we must communicate with each other and give fair warning about unsubstantial producers. With technology as present as it is today, we now have the tools to provide this information. We should not slander a persons name and reputation, on the contrary, we should be very clear about what to expect.It is our responsibility to each other our arts communities and ourselves.

    I hope this situation does not tarnish the reputation of South Florida Theatre for these actors. It is my hope that we as a community work together and acknowledge our common thread as artists.

    Best Regards,
    Ron Hutchins
    SSDC
    Hutchinsproductions@mac.com

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  4. To call these assmonkeys a couple of fuctards would be an insult to fuctards all over the world.

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  5. Ron,
    it's funny that you say that because the choreographer that ended up doing it said that Gary asked him to do the same thing to copy the old choreography and he refused because he actually knew the guy. He called him up and told him what Gary was trying to do. He ended up creating all new choreography, which sadly will never be seen by an audience it was soo great too he took the show to an all new level the dance numbers were amazing!..BTW the choreographer offered to take over and director if Gary couldn't handle wearing soo many Hats and Gary refused...when he would try to block even a scene..Gary would panic and say "help help help" and the choreographer would have to step in and do his job..Gary is a joke. We as a Cast had decided together as a group that if we were going to pull this off it would have to be all on our own accord because it was Clear that Gary was completely useless. The Musical Director would roll his eyes when Gary would even open his mouth. The MD on many many occasions told us to ignore Gary. It's quite bizarre how unaware of their surroundings they both are.

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  6. Excusem e, to the writer with the name vagina (missed you on the contact sht). Do you not realize that there were about 20 people in the buildingbeside you. YOU ANDTHREE OR FOUR OTHER SO-CALLED ACTORS COST US OUR JOBS! NOT GARY! NOT JAMISON! YOU, youbastards! Gary's only mistakewas to not spenmd more time in ny and put this cast through the ringer. Powerfulvoices do not alone make muwsicaltheater performers. not one of the leadscould walk & talk at the same time. REMEMBER, very fewpeople read these stupid 1-sided blogs, but a lot of people were there. We sawwhat happened. YOU made the job impossible because YOU couldn't remember blocking well enough to run a singkle scene twice! I saw Gary give up and leave early!I would have too. I must have missed the conversation about the caST "pulling this off on there own" BECAUSE MY HEAD WAS UNDER MY SEAT andIwas scared shit because I knew I wasn't going to have a job soon! I agree the choreographer was great, but it didn't matter because only a handful could dance! Half the rehearsal time wasspent with him screaming at the cast and rightfully so. MAYBE 25% of thiscast wasoffbook the day before what was going to be our first preview and YOU THINK YOU DID YOUR JOB andwant to get paid for it!I want your salary to make up for the job you cost me you disgusting creeps. Gary, retire already. You don't need this!

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  7. my name is not jason! Who runs this shitty site?

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  8. "Not-Jason", you had to enter a name, the blog doesn't generate one for you. Perhaps someone else using your computer has a Google account. Whatever, you could have changed it before posting.

    Whatever your name is, "Not-Jason," the fact is that no matter how you examine it, the blame comes back to Gary - or whoever the director of the play is. That's how it works.

    I can tell you've been talking to Gary and Jamison by the way you mindlessly parrot them with phrases like "1-sided blog." Aren't you here adding your 2 cents? Guess what? That's your side of the story!

    But you make a telling comment:
    "Half the rehearsal time wasspent with him screaming at the cast"

    Maybe he should have been using that time to, you know, direct the show. And you are also right that Gary should have spent more time working with them in NY.

    But even if they really did the job as badly as you and Gary and Jamison would have us believe, they still have to be paid for their time.

    Consider: all of the area's theatre producers are fully aware of this story. Not one has stood up to say that Gary might have a valid point. Not here, not on the Herald, not in email. In fact, a number of them sent me notes suggesting I blog about this.

    Sorry about your job; really, I am. This seems to happen a lot to people who work for the boys, as you'll find out as you work with people in the area's professional theaters.

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  9. I am on someone elses computer, who give two?

    Have I been in contact with "the boys" (jerK), of course! Do you think you need a passworrd? Biut I also didn't invent the term 1-sided blog... is that the best you can can come up with!

    Learn to read! I neversaid that gary was yelling at the cast. He never did! The choreograhper was! He had to!

    As far as pay... they can do as they please, but I wouldn't give those creeps a dime. They didn't do their freakin jobs & then they stole or destoyed thousands of dollars worth of shit! And don't assk producers whgo live off grants and dontions their opinionm, ask business people! I had to get an advance last week (that was given to me in a 2nd from these "fuctards")so they dont owe me anything.

    I did speak w/jamisonm yesterday &he laughed about you asking for paperwork! Not one person has even given their name let alone proof that they are owed anythng, but they should give paperwork/1=

    lets keep crying about how little work there is while we trash the few companies who have any

    Big businesses cant make it without tax money.what do you expect from a theater!

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  10. As far as pay... they can do as they please, but I wouldn't give those creeps a dime.

    Well, that's why we have labor laws.

    lets keep crying about how little work there is while we trash the few companies who have any


    And I advise only pursuing work at companies that have a history of paying everyone they hire everytime. Otherwise, there's not much point to it, is there?

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  11. 1. and stolen tvs are why they have cops!
    + Labor laws, i would think only cover people who have names &are actually covered by them,not people woh make things up on websites;ever hear of innocent until proven guilty?
    3. Go pursue work anywhere right now/good luck! funny i didn't see the hwole auto industry quit when they were forced to renegotiate their cocntracts

    this keybaord sucks

    u accuse them of twisting the truth--------you are on another planet---

    PS---theres more news in teh Herald (who just laid off a ton of people + rasied their rates so thty could pay them w/money they borrowed in the interim). Try the businesssection or the front page!

    Don't answer me, pls. I'm outta here!

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  12. and stolen tvs are why they have cops!

    I'm interested to hear how these actors could have stolen the TVs when they were without transportation. Or perhaps the story is that they stuck them in their suitcases and flew home with them?

    I wonder if these TVs were insured? Hm. Probably not. Insurance costs money.

    Labor laws, i would think only cover people who have names &are actually covered by them,not people woh make things up on websites;ever hear of innocent until proven guilty?

    Is it your contention that The Life had no cast? So who was it that the Herald interviewed?

    Or maybe you're insinuating that I made up the story about the cast of I Write The Songs not getting paid.

    Several people have come forward, and used their actual names: it's a very easy thing to confirm.

    i didn't see the hwole auto industry quit when they were forced to renegotiate their cocntracts

    Are you telling us that Gary and Jamison tried to force a new set of contract terms on these actors? Gotta tell you, it doesn't help their case.

    this keybaord sucks

    Sure, blame the keyboard. Why not?

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  13. and P.s Gary had no problem firing people from nyc and local actors that weren't working out.
    2nd..part of our audition process wasn't even to dance at all..why would you hire a bunch of actors never see them dance and then bring them down and expect them to be 100 amazing dancers sorry..and 3rd of no one besides Jamison or Gary were at rehearsals unless you are the stage manager and if that is the case I'm sorry that you lost your money they got you man..

    the actors were never given a deadline to learn their lines
    3rd..blocking in the theatre world u have your script in hand with a pencil and you write it down
    and the "director" never scheduled working on the actual acting..soo yea..

    bottom line black and white..doesn't matter if we sucked he still owes us money and it was his responsibility to fly them home. In any job if the person is fired from their job their money is paid that they are owed because its against the law not to.

    what about the cast in Mississippi? they didn't suck and they've gotten paid!????

    "jason" aka Gary aka Jamison..get a life and good luck trying to put on another production there are tons of people who are going to make sure tou never victimize anyone ever again!

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  14. Join Florida Theater (spelled with er ) on face book so we can keep all informed......

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  15. @WhisperingEye

    I wish I had come upon this article earlier.... much earlier.

    I was in the Mississippi production. We got a total of two paychecks, and we only got them because of another cast members sacrifice.... we were not paid for the run of the show. We only had one performance. They promised us they would pay out our contracts, even have written documentation. I am so sorry that the actors in this production were stranded..... we were lucky enough to be flown home.

    I spoke with representatives at the IP when all this shit went down. The person in charge of entertainment there was appalled at the situation. Gary and Jamison never told the Casino we weren't going on. People paid to see the show that night, and there was an audience ready to see a show. They come to our rooms telling us the show is canceled because the Casino isn't paying...... which makes no sense at all, since our contracts were not through the Casino, but through Gary and Jamison and the 'Arthur and Irvin Corporation'. The Casino had no idea what was going on with them, and was not expecting what happened. I went to a lawyer, he said nothing could be done because they didn't have any money. I called the local ABC news station, but never heard back from them. They fired our stage manager the night before opening so that they wouldn't have to pay her. I don't think she got paid a dime.

    Just thinking about the whole ordeal makes me cringe. Gary Waldman and Jamison Troutman should be locked up. They are no good, they are liars, they are cheats, they are CROOKS.

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