Erase from your mind the classic Kenneth Feld image -- obsessive nerd with adding machine at desk awaiting daily phone-ins from fretting event directors reporting on the day's ticket sales.
Enter the new, artistically repentant Kenneth Feld, the Big Show's Big Picture Man. Hey, I read all about it in The New York Times. To breathlessly quote:
"My strengths are really in the creative side, coming up with big ideas, knowing how to get them done. But the day-to-day and the administration are something that I wasn’t good at, because I didn’t have the interest. I started restructuring the company around ’94, and I found out that you never stop. And I now have an outside president and chief operating officer who take care of all of the day-to-day, and we have constant communications and meetings. But I don’t get involved in the detail the way I used to."
This he explained to the Times Adam Bryant for a Corner Office Q&A profile in last last Sunday's edition. Interesting story worth a read. We might have a little more fun with it here somehwere up the road.
I am fairly shocked, after all the years reading about the Feld of Felds referring to his happiness at the desk pouring over stats and invoices, ordering up fireworks between hiring and firing. Just being a common ordinary anonymous producer in the background, humble worker bee operating a huge honey hive, if you will.
"As a result of that, I’ve been able to become a lot more objective in looking at the business — what’s happening today, but more importantly, what do I think is going to happen next year and in the next five years. "
He paid tribute to his president and chief operating officer, Michael Shannon, hired only a few years ago following a 10-month search, whose name appears directly under Feld's on the corporate masthead.
I know people buried out there in cyberspace, pro people in the "know"who would have me believe that this Mr. F. is a career iceberg doomed never to change course. That he lacks the infectious enthusiasm and, well heck, the warm fuzzy humanity of his late father Irvin.
I don't know. I've always seen KF as a sinister version of detail-obsessed James A. Bailey. But in his own reigning right, he is one shrewd operator who absorbs exterior trends into his own shows, something like Billy Gates imitating Steve Jobs. 'ya know, that mouse thing. He may have found a new role model in Cirque du Soleil's Guy Laliberte, who is well known for having a very strong CEO at the desk while, he, Guy, serves as "The Guide" in birthing new baby Cirques.
The biggest status quo buster to the Feld empire was that one-ring thing, a crushing occurrence under U.S. big tops which forced the Felds -- one father, three daughters in all, so far -- to regroup, rethink and reproduce, out of which emerged one brilliant solution in last year's Boom-A-Ring fling in Coney Island. I'm waiting for another Boom-A-Ding-A-Dum-Drum thing as talented and tight and taut and straight ahead and ticklingly fresh ...
A fresh metrosexual makeover for the numbers cruncher-turned-impresario? Perchance a cape? Perchance a photo sit for Maxwell Coplan?
Enter Ringling's new "Guide" -- Kenneth Feldiberte.
[photo above by Tony Cenicola/The New York Times]