Post Post Update, Sunday, 12:30 PM: I encourage you to read the comments, very diversified and offering a number of takes on the concession pitching issue you may find of great value. And thank you, Steven, for your nice message to me on your blog.
It's a swampland of half-truths and spin, of misinformation and veiled get-even messages out there when you try navigating your way through circus blogs. What is so interesting is that most of them are hosted by inside professionals, and they no doubt harbor all sorts of hidden agendas. Sometimes I feel like an innocent in the middle of it all, watching comments fly this way and that and wondering who has a grudge to bear or a friend to puff. Spurned? Fired? Told your act is over the hill?
But, how else to get information. The White Tops? Circus Report? In this country, aside from the old Billboard that once tried to impart objective news, we have had to rely on fans and press agents. Good luck.
Jim Royal, who manages Kelly Miller Circus, has commented to me about the problem he has with bloggers who pass along rumors he feels compelled to quell. How ironic that Kelly Miller, at least since John Ringling North II purchased the show, seems to attract to its staff bloggers who just can’t stop blogging — about Kelly Miller.
Last season we were feted for a time by media relations man Ben Trumble’s almost daily accounts of business, much of it not good, and of his second guessing the advance. The same Trumble who now, before even seeing the new Kelly Miller show, will declare it practically the greatest tent show since, well, what was the last show that Trumble trumbled for? One day soon, circus owners may stipulate in contracts what bloggers who work for them may and may not say.
Where’s the laughter, there’s truth? Now comes, for the 2009 tour, a new touring-with-it blog of Steven Copeland, who is clowning this year on Kelly Miller with his partner, Ryan Combs. His detailed postings promise a daily dose of rich insider information, which is why I believe it could become the hit blog of the season. So far, two days into the tour, we learn of packed and turnaway houses. (What say ye to that, Mr. Trumble?) When the crowds don’t come, will Copeland complain? When nasty arguments suddenly break out in the backward, will delicious dirty laundry make it into Copeland's daily open-book diary?
I too am the victim of misinformation that I stunmble onto when now and then touring the blogs, such that I have become very leery. One of them, for example, gave me a solid impression that Copeland and Combs were in a relationship of the kind that is now legal in Massachussets. The information was delivered in a warm celebratory air. So, when about to mention their names in connection with a Kelly Miller story, I gave a lot of respectful thought to how I might identify the two. I decided on the term “life domestic partners.” How royally wrong I was.
Within an hour or so of my posting going up and the multitudes rushing on line to read it (well, all three of you out there), came a stinging rebuttal complete with lecture on proper research etiquette from Steve, informing me in an e-mail that “We are friends and we work together, but that is it.” Moreover, added he tersely, “Please check your sources before you post things in the future.”
Now either Steve, while working for media master Kenneth Feld, picked up a tip or two on how to manipulate a writer, or the source from which I derived my information is itself full of buffonic baloney. I sent Steve and apology, disclosing the source, immediately deleted it from my own posting (thus nullifying a marriage that never was), and returned to re-check the source, feeling like a careless kid whose hand had just been slaped. How could I get something like this so so wrong?
How? By simply spending some fun time a while back inside Pat Cashin’s well regarded (I assume) Clown Alley. After finding not just one but two postings alluding to a full-scale relationship between the two partners, I e-mailed Steve, suggesting that since he is so bothered by the false impression lent, that he make the same remove-it request to Pat that he made to me. So far, those two postings remain.
Perhaps there is a double standard at work, or maybe I’m clueless on some inside joke. Wrote Steve to Showbiz David, “No hard feelings. Pat is always kidding us, I figured at some point that comment would be misconstrued.”
That “comment”??? There are two postings replete with many comments, and by others too, all of them in a very upbeat mode.
Under these bloggy big tops, the rules change from performance to performance.
I wish friends Copeland and Combs no harm, only luck on the tour ahead. And I cry for these clowns, having learned to my alarm that they too, are pitching coloring books, which I regard as a supreme insult to any self-respecting artist. John Ringling North II: Is this the sort of a circus owner he intends to be? What a devastating clue to his showmanship. To be a real Ringling, he has yet a far distance to travel.
I’m going back to Pat's Clown Alley for a little inspirational relief from the Dali Lama. But, please, don’t tell me that he too is now flacking for Peterson Peanuts.
First posed February 14, 2009