“BACKSTAGE WITH BRUCE KLAUBER”: April, 2015 Edition
BORED WALK BEAT
The situation at the shuttered Revel Hotel and Casino has gone from absurd to even more absurd. Even the judge involved in this mess has called the situation “tortured.” For unknown reasons, though Florida developer Glenn Straub has his $82 million bid for the place in escrow, the powers-that-be continue make what could and should be a simple closing nearly impossible. It’s been said that some Revel tenants and creditors want all involved to look for a better deal. But the truth is that no one but Straub has stepped forward and shown the money. Piece of advice: Give it to this guy or else count on imploding it. There is a hearing set for April 2 and it’s possible—remember the word “possible”—that the court could rule in Staub’s favor and that the deal will go through.
It appears that the troubled Taj Mahal will, for the foreseeable future, survive. A bankruptcy restructuring plan spearheaded by billionaire Carl Icahn has been approved. However, the Appeal’s Court still has to reject a union challenge to a judge’s decision last year to terminate an expired union contract that allowed the Taj to dump pension and health care agreements.
The totally unnecessary emergency management team foisted on Atlantic City by Governor and former Presidential hopeful Chris Christie has recommended the following: Cut $10 million from the budget, institute hundreds of layoffs and negotiate better terms with various stockholders, including the casinos and unions. Mayor Don Guardian would have done all this and probably more, but for reasons not yet understood, Governor Christie found it necessary to bring in two outsiders, Kevin Lavin and Kevyn Orr–and pay them, no less– to come to the same conclusions Guardian would have come to at no charge.
At the Borgata, long Atlantic City’s most successful casino property, look for two new entertainment venues within the coming months. One is an outdoor venue called Borgota Festival Park, to be booked by Live Nation Philadelphia. The other is a new nightclub.
Also given the go-ahead is Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein’s plans to totally remake the Pier Shops mall, the former Million Dollar Pier, after temporarily being blocked to do so by Caesars. Caesars, which owns the land but not the structure on top of it, claimed they did not approve the $2.7 million sale. It’s been reported that Blatstein, as well as some disgruntled current tenants, has settled with all involved, and as this is being written, will hold a press conference for his plans for the property.
MOVIES ARE YOUR BEST ENTERTAINMENT
Center City Philadelphia has been without a movie theater for years, but that’s soon to change via two “new” houses of cinema. In a surprise move, the beleaguered Prince Musical Theater has been acquired by the Philadelphia Film Society; and the controversial, closed-for-decades Boyd Theater is now in the midst of demolition to make way for a multi-screen venue, likely with bars and restaurants within it as well. To appease the preservationalists, the Boyd façade will remain intact. The new Boyd will likely present mainstream movies. Film-wise, the Prince will probably present its usual art-house stuff, as well as live theatrical performances and concerts via Curtis Institute, Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus, Philadelphia Dance Academy and other groups.
The once-thriving but now-on-the-comeback-trail 69th and Market Street shopping district was once home to, count ‘em, three movie theaters: The Terminal, The 69th Street, and The Tower, the latter a rock palace. News has come that 69th Street will again have movies in their retail mix by way of an organization called Movie Grill Concepts XXV. Movie Grill, which combines the movie-going experience with the dining experience, has appealed to the Zoning Hearing Board for a variance, in order to build and take over a vacant property at 53 South 69th Street, steps away from the Tower. If this happens, and it should, it will be called “Studio Movie Grill.”
Newest documentary film subject? The one and only, always colorful and sometimes cantankerous restaurateur named Georges Perrier. The film, aptly titled “King Georges,” tells of this history, rise and fall of Le Bec-Fin. Oddly the film’s April premier will be in Durham, North Carolina at film festival. Seems this project should have premiered at the Philadelphia Film Society-owned Prince.
ALL THE NEWS THAT FITS WE PRINT
The Metro-owned Philadelphia City Paper has gotten a major makeover, described by senior designer Brenda Adams as having a “grown up look.” That’s very appropriate as City Paper’s readers are grown ups, as opposed to the other free weekly’s readers—and writers—who clearly are not grown ups.
SIGN OF THE TIMES
Here at “Backstage,” we only report the most pertinent and socially significant news stories. It is therefore fitting and proper to let “Backstage” readers know that after 30 months, the “D” in the Ardmore sign on Anderson Avenue on The Main Line—the one that’s been reading “Ar more” since May—is being replaced. Welcome “nes” indeed.
HO JO: NO MO’
They served 28 flavors of ice cream, had the greatest fried clams ever, grilled their frankfurters in butter and at one time, had over 1,000 restaurants all over the country. Sadly, the three remaining Howard Johnson’s restaurants are now down to two, with the recently-announced closing of its Lake Placid, N.Y. location, a staple on the scene for more than 60 years. If you have to have a HoJo cone, dog or whatever, you’ll have to travel to Bangor, MA or Lake George, N.Y. We’ll see you there.
In 1978, Jonathan Takiff of the Philadelphia Daily News first wrote about me. The item focused on the jam session I was leading at Grendel’s Lair on South Street (!), just after I lost my gig as an editor of the Drummer newspaper because of the Drummer’s doing an el-foldo. That was 37 years ago, and I know Jon was at the News, as a music and tech writer, for several years before that. Jon has just let one and all know that he’s leaving the News and headed to the Philadelphia Inquirer, strictly as a technology writer. The is the second time in just a few months that the Inquirer has raided the News’ staff, the first being entertainment columnist Molly Eichel. Congrats to the Inquirer, as they know talent when they read it, and good luck to you, Jon.