Friday, April 4, 2008

Episode 10: The Sting

In January 2008, the New Line Board of Directors had a meeting with the Ivory Theatre's two owners -- both commercial real estate developers. I heard from one of the people in that meeting about what happened:

The New Line people told the owners that they just could not stay in the theatre if Horror Show remained as theatre manager. They had been lied to, screamed at, threatened, manipulated, conned, and generally treated like crap. At first, the owners tried to convince them to give Horror Show "one more chance," but New Line reminded them that they had been giving her "one more chance" repeatedly for more than a year, and things were getting worse, not better.

Finally, the more powerful and richer of the two owners -- we'll call him the Big Owner -- told New Line that if it was really that bad for them, he would agree that he would be their direct contact from then on, that they would never have to talk to Horror Show again, that she would not be allowed in the theatre during New Line's time there. He told New Line to call him with any problems or concerns, to call him if they needed anything at all. He gave them his home phone number, his wife's email address, his wife's work number, and his secretary's extension number. He even told them that if they called and he was in a meeting, they should ask his secretary to interrupt that meeting. The New Line people told him that last bit would not be necessary.

At the end of the meeting, the two owners stood up shook hands with each board member, looked each of them in the eye, and promised that everything would be different now, and that Horror Show would never bother them again. Then they all went across the street and had a drink together. The New Line people felt pretty good.

Of course none of them knew yet that Horror Show had already taken bolt cutters and broken into New Line's musical equipment back in the theatre. That little gem had not been discovered. And of course none of them knew yet that the owners would go back on their word barely two months later and back out of their pledge.

Then a couple months later, the NonProphets had a similar meeting with the two owners. The difference was that the NonProphets already knew by this time that the owners were not to be trusted. The Big Owner started by telling them what a huge success the Patsy Cline show had been (which they already knew was a lie), and what a terrific theatre manager Horror Show had turned out to be (despite the lies, bounced checks, temper tantrums, and general incompetence).

The meeting went basically like the earlier one with one exception -- the NonProphets called the Big Owner on each of his lies, telling him that they knew these things weren't true. That seemed to throw him momentarily but not for long. Finally, the Big Owner excused himself to go to another meeting, and then the other owner -- we'll call him the Lackey Owner -- presented the NonProphets with an invoice.

If you've read this whole blog from the beginning, you already know that the NonProphets had been promised a big rent reduction for their fall show because of the damage done to their set and props by Horror Show. Since then, they had repeatedly asked the owners and Horror Show to tell them how much they actually owed in rent. No one ever gave them an answer.

But now that the Big Owner had escaped their meeting, the Lackey Owner gave them this invoice. First of all, the NonProphets had only been in the theatre for four weeks, but they were being charged for six weeks. Second, there was no discount as had been promised over and over. Third, and most bizarre, there was almost $1,000 in "late fees" on the invoice. They realized they had to get a lawyer.

Back in the New Line camp, the New Line people had moved in for their spring show to find the most disgusting, filthy theatre they had ever walked into. When they emailed the Big Owner with a long list of the terrible conditions they had found in the theatre, he wrote back,
From this point on I would appreciate it if you can deal with [Horror Show] on minor issues like this. As earth shaking as it might seem to you, it’s not something I am able to deal with and that’s why we have a theater manager. I've gotten the point ad nauseum that you don’t think [Horror Show] is a professional theatre manager and I could care less what you think about her. She is, and will continue to be, the theatre manager. As I've told you in the last three emails if you don’t like it, then get out. As you can probably tell your latest whine is the cherry on the top of our relationship. Do not darken my email again.

Really? "Darken my email"...??? Yes, that's what he wrote. Almost overnight, he had gone from a friendly puppy to Bill O'Reilly. What had happened to the promises and handshakes?

Pretty much everyone was figuring out they had to get the hell out of there, and fast!

Sic Semper Tyrannis!
An Ivory Survivor