Wednesday, May 21, 2014

“Greatest Show in Court” Wins Another Big PR Battle Against Animal Rights Activists ... Cirque du Soleil’s Founder Poised to "Rejuvenate" Show's Lagging Fortunes

From the gift to Kenneth Feld that keeps on giving -- notoriously untruthful witness, the late Tim Rider -- another big victory amounting to millions.  Latest to get stung with steep costs are the Humane Society of the United States, and other related groups, who have been ordered to pay Feld Entertainment $15.75 million.  For those firmly in the Feld camp, it’s Good News.

For others not quite so convinced, well, in the Court of Public Opinion, the jury is still out.  In a pair of seasons, if a Los Angeles city ordinance voted in holds, you won't see any elephants cavorting at Staples Center – that is, if Ringling still comes to Tinsel Town.  On a wobbly fence I sit, watching this whole thing play out, noting, at this juncture, the monumental stupidity of these animal rights activists that banked on the words of Ryder, a one-time Ringling elephant trainer, who made quite a bundle posting as a witness for the activists.

Onto the circus of no animals.

Cirque King, Guy Laliberte, telling Sophie Cousinea of Montreal’s The Globe and Mail, that, yes, he’s been knocked about by some big failures in recent years, and, yes, the profit margin has retreated to near nothing.  He hastens to add that his shows, on balance, are not losing any money.   He sells “between 14 and 15 million tickets per year.”

He's now, headlines the story "on a mission to rejuvenate his Cirque du Soleil."

“We fell into the trap of thinking we could do all things entertainment-related,” said the 54-year-old dynamo, ready to sell 20% to 30% of his live entertainment group, the funds to be channeled into continued expansion into other areas.

So, back to circus concentration, hardly.  Laliberte still covets a  durable and respected slot on the Great White Way.  Funding now being sought will underwrite yet more Broadway shows (or attempts at).  The man at the top still harbors a dream of “finally cracking the New York market.”  Given Laliberte’s paltry track record competing with giant ticket draws like The Lion King and  The Book of Mormon, I fail to see much hope here — unless he can join money with the right Broadway talent to bring in that one-in-a dozen miracle: a Hit Show. 

Declining CDS fortunes are blamed, partly, on the overly high tickets prices of the failed Iris in Hollywood (iffy excuse), on Z in Tokyo going down under the crippling 2011 tsunami (I can buy that).  Most critically along the Vegas strip, wracked by the financial crisis, hotels were driven to offer discounted tickets, “forcing” CDS to follow suit. 

Now, if you, like I, have grown tired of overproduced mediocre “circus” shows under the Grand Chapiteau, you may opt for a newer Cirque venture soon to be coming your way — maybe – such as your own glitzy wedding reception organized by 45 Degres, with whom CDS has formed a partnership.  And then, on the theme park horizon, there too may rise another incarnation of Cirque du Soleil in the form of  “multi media theme parks.”
Once, they employed 5,000 staff. Now, the number is 4,000.  “I am a warrior,” declared Mr. Laliberte to Ms. Cousineau. 

And so I, a naive dreamer, still await the Cirque du Soleil with animals.  Don’t count it out, kids.   If they can just get the right deal with Peterson Peanuts.

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