VIEWS: 0 PAGES: 5 POSTED ON: 4/30/2013
Behind the Scenes of the New York Review (From The Passing Show, Vol. 12, No. 2, Fall 1989) by Maryann Chach The New York Review had its genesis in the great theatrical wars between the firm of Klaw and Erlanger and the Shuberts at the turn of the century. Marc Klaw and Abraham Lincoln Erlanger headed the Theatrical Syndicate, the most powerful theatre operation in the coun- try. A trust of theatrical producers and theatre owners, the Syndicate controlled most of the hit plays and musicals on the New York stage. This control of "product" gave Klaw and Erlanger leverage in negotiat- ing favorable bookings with independent theatre owners across the country. Theatre owners who did not ally themselves with the Syndicate and agree to its terms often found themselves without a booking or unable to book the productions their audiences wanted to see. At the same time, a producer who did not like the Syndicate's terms might find himself unable to book a profitable tour, forced to play secondary houses or to make big geographical jumps between tour stops. Through the Syndicate, Klaw and Erlanger owned, operated or influ- enced many of the major theatres in the country. The Shubert Brothers challenged the Syndicate and eventually reversed the balance of power. In a few short years the Shuberts became the dominant force in the American theatre and remained in that position throughout their lives. In 1900, when Sam and Lee Shubert arrived in New York City from Syracuse, they tried to do business with the Syndicate but found them- selves like many others, treated in a highhanded fashion -- often, for example, having bookings abruptly cancelled. The Shuberts took on 2a. Abe Erlanger as Napoleon forces the reporters of the Syndicate by advocating an "Open Door" policy, a free market that the New York Telegraph to jump through hoops in this would give theatre owners and managers the freedom to do business cartoon from The Review with whomever they liked. This put the Shuberts at war with the Syndicate. The first salvo was fired by the daily theatrical and sporting newspa- per, the Morning Telegraph. The Telegraph had become closely allied with Klaw and Erlanger, boosting their shows, while vilifying the Shuberts. According to Lee Shubert, "nasty little digs at Sam or J.J. or me began to appear in the Telegraph." Lee felt that a columnist named Rennold Wolf was responsible for the unsigned comments. Sam Shubert had hired Wolf to do some press work for the Shuberts in publi- cations other than the Telegraph. Apparently Wolf was also working for the Syndicate and the Syndicate paid him better than the Shuberts. Lee Shubert described a meeting with the Telegraph's editor Bill Lewis which was meant to smooth over past differences. Lee asked Lewis to stop the Telegraph's unjust attacks on the Shuberts, to which Lewis responded that the editorial policy of the Telegraph could not be controlled by threats of withdrawing advertising. Lee then accused Rennold Wolf of being on the Syndicate's payroll and asserted that in fact the Syndicate controlled the Telegraph's policy. The Shuberts finally did withdraw their advertising. This break meant that the Shuberts had 2b. A January 10, 1910 ad for Gimbel's and New York Edison. Eighty years later, the Gimbel store is again nearing completion, this time as A&S Plaza. to look for a theatrical paper in which to advertise, express their views and defend themselves against the Syndicate. The result was The New York Review. The first issue of The Review, the weekly trade paper that the Shuberts created in response to the Telegraph and the Syndicate, appeared on Sunday, August 29, 1909. It was issued in large format in three, sometimes four sections (a pictorial section, one or two news sections and a magazine, each section separately paginated). Milton Wolf, who was married to the Shuberts' sister Dora and managed a Shubert-owned clothing store called Joseph's, was listed as President and Emmanuel M. Klein, an executive who worked for the Shuberts and was Shubert attorney William Klein's brother, was Secretary and Treasurer. Both men seem to have been figureheads and had little to do with the actual running of the newspaper. Sam Weller, the editor and, Charles Daniel, the business and advertising manager, actually operated the paper, with the persistent help of their not-so-silent part- ners, the Shuberts. It is apparent that from the beginning Lee and J.J. Shubert con- trolled the Review, although neither of their names was listed on the paper's masthead. There is no correspondence in the Archive between Milton Wolf and Weller or Daniel regarding the New York Review. There is, however, abundant correspondence between the Shubert Brothers and Weller and Daniel -- some of it particularly telling. For instance, in an effort to boost the advertising base and put the newspaper into the black, Daniel enlisted the help of an advertising man, Sigmund Klee of Ward and Gow, who wrote letters to clients on behalf of The Review. In a letter dated October 5, 1910, Klee wrote: "My friend, Lee Shubert, of the Shubert Theatrical Company, controls the New York Review, a weekly paper with illustrat- ed supplements devoted largely to theatrical and sporting news..." On seeing Klee's letter, Lee sent this memo to Daniel: "I note in Mr. Klee's letter to Mr. Sandlass that he mentions the fact that I control the New York Review. Hereafter please do not make this statement. I simply want you to say that I am interested in this publication." Lee also wrote letters to the managers of Shubert houses and inde- pendent houses urging them and their staff to subscribe and support the Review. Joseph's, Milton Wolf's company, of course advertised in the Review but Charles Daniel, the business manager, had much diffi- culty collecting payment. He wrote many tactfully worded letters to Lee and J.J. to enlist their help in settling the bills. 2c. A letter detailing a proposed Ex-Lax promotion. This company also advertised in The Review. Lee and J.J. both helped with procuring advertisements for the 2d. The automobile girl from the "City Girl" number. newspaper on a quid pro quo basis. Frequent advertisers in the Costume by Homer Conant. Review were often accorded free tickets to a show, but some advertis- ers expected something more substantial. One famous shoe manufac- turer advertised and, in return, got orders for shoes from the Shuberts. Cammeyer, another shoemaker, was reluctant to continue advertising because "your promise...that theatrical business from the firm of Shubert would be very shortly forthcoming" had not been kept. Eventually, Cammeyer received some Shubert business. Advertisers expected to see the name of their product or store advertised on drop curtains or displayed prominently in productions. Daniel, for example, wrote to J.J. Shubert on October 17, 1911: The New England Button Shoe manufacturers are pressing me for something definite in regard to the button shoe number at the Winter Garden. They have asked for a conference in the matter on Wednesday afternoon at which time they are prepared to execute formal contract for the $2,000 in advertising provided you have song and dance num- ber in satisfactory shape. Gimbel Bros. paid for an ad in the Review in exchange for a drop curtain in the new Winter Garden Show. Daniel had to stall the adver- tising director at Gimbel's while he pleaded with Lee to let him know if the drop curtain would go into the show. He pointedly asked Lee "not [to] refer this to Mr. J.J. as he gets mad at me every time I men- tion these drop curtains." Another type of advertising was the theatre giveaways -- samples of products which different manufacturers provided free to theatre audiences. Among the companies which participated in this merchan- dising were Lindt chocolate, Djer-Kiss perfume and Ex-Lax laxative 2e. Howell's portrait of Shubert star Alla Nazimova products. from the Dec. 9, 1909 issue. One advertising tie-in which the Shubert Archive can document clearly is a "City Girl" number in a Winter Garden revue (probably, the Passing Show of 1916). The idea for the musical number was to have each girl represent a city and her costume reflect a product for which that city was famous. J.J. wrote to Daniel on May 11, 1916: We are getting out the following dresses for the girls in new show: San Francisco, orange girl. Los Angeles, film girl. Detroit, automobile... Philadelphia, quaker girl. Pittsburg[h], iron and steel... Milwaukee, blue ribbon beer girl. We can change these to suit the cigarette girls or blue ribbon beer, automobile of some kind made in Detroit, and for railroads Phoebe Snow girl, so please see Mr. Simmons as quickly as possible and he will give you full information. Daniel responded to J.J. Shubert on May 20: The Lackawanna Railroad wants the Phoebe Snow Girl [the company's symbol] in the number at the Winter Garden to represent Buffalo...I think the Detroit Cadillac Automobile Co. will take the one representing Detroit... At first, it was hoped that once its subscribers and advertisers had placed the Review on a firm financial footing, the newspaper might eventually become a daily or at least semi-weekly. But that never happened; the paper remained a week- ly for its entire 22-year run. If the initial impetus behind the Review, however, was to combat the Syndicate and all it stood for, then it certainly achieved its chief goal in the early issues. Nearly every news section featured a barbed anti-Syndicate cartoon by an artist named Howell. Many of these are extremely inventive. Abe Erlanger who collected Napoleana and who, some thought, envisioned himself as a conqueror, is portrayed in a baseball suit, swinging a bat and wearing a Napoleonic hat. In another, Ringmaster Erlanger is forcing Bill Lewis, the editor of the Telegraph, and Rennold Wolf to jump through hoops. Howell also did more flattering caricatures of Shubert performers. Of course, Shubert shows, shows produced by their allies, and performers in those shows were featured in articles and photographs in the Review. Articles about the latest Syndicate outrage or any scandal touching its partners made the front page of the news section. One series of articles set- tled the score with Rennold Wolf. Wolf's wife, Hope Booth, was destitute in Italy and the Review repeatedly informed read- ers of the situation and of Wolf's callousness. One headline reads "Hope Booth, Ill And Penniless In Italy, Will Be Given Benefit At Casino Next Sunday Under Auspices Of The Review" (October 31, 1909). Many articles were not signed, which may indicate that they were press releases which the Review simply reprinted with- out editing. Some pieces were clearly orchestrated by the Shubert brothers. Lee Shubert wrote to Charles Daniel on July 16, 1916: "In the future when you have a front page, ask me what to use. Do not use people like Alice Brady who don't do us a bit of good. Use only people who are working for us." In a letter to J.J. Shubert on November 6, 1911, Colgate Baker, an interviewer and journalist for the Review, wanted to do a story which would hint at the real reason for Fannie Ward's law suit against Marc Klaw whom she claimed was violating her contract. In fact, Baker said, Klaw was angry at Ward for discarding him for another lover. Memos suggest that J.J. and Lee discussed whether or not to publish the Fannie Ward story but there are no surviving Reviews for that period which can supply the outcome. Several staff members of the New York Review brought a certain flair to the paper. Samuel MacLeary Weller led a color- ful life before settling down with the paper. He was born in Columbus, Texas, around 1876, and joined Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War. As a journalist on the New York Telegraph, he recounted the exploits of the Rough Riders based on his own experiences. Later he covered stories in Canarsie for the New York Journal and sent his copy via carrier pigeon back to the office. Weller remained with the Review until its end in 1931, after which he worked as a publicist for the Lunts, Maurice Evans, Walter Huston, and Walter Hampden. Weller often wrote the lead anti-Syndicate article in the Review news section. Colgate Baker was born in Kobe, Japan, around 1872. His father was a tea merchant and his mother, an Episcopal mis- sionary. Baker attended Phillips Andover Academy, and then studied at Yale for a year before entering West Point. Ill health forced him to withdraw from West Point, but he later joined the regular army and fought Indians in the West. All this, no doubt, primed him for his battles against the Syndicate and with the Shuberts. Baker was married to actress-singer Freda Gallick whose career he never failed to promote with the Shuberts. As Baker wrote to Lee Shubert on August 9, 1911: "If Miss Fay Templeton does not accept your offer to her to play Little Buttercup in 'Pinafore,' I respectfully suggest that you consider Mrs. Baker for the role. She has made a great success in eccentric characters and I know she would be an ideal Buttercup, she acts better than she sings, and you know what she can do vocally." Others who regularly wrote major editorial pieces for the Review included A. Toxen Worm, the eccentric Dane who served as a Shubert press representative and manager for 20 years until his death in 1922 (See The Passing Show, v.6, no.2, p.3). Leander Richardson, who also contributed articles to the Review, had previously held editorial positions with the New York Dramatic News and the Morning Telegraph. Little is known about the personal or professional life of business and advertising manager Charles Daniel. From his memos, it is clear that he was a stickler for details and ingenious in coming up with advertising tie-ins and in hounding advertisers with unpaid bills. Daniel left the Review in 1926 for a job with a Wall Street firm. The Review ran from 1909 until sometime in 1931. (The Union List of Serials suggests it ceased publication in 1937 but several sources in the Shubert Archive put .the Review's demise in 1931). The Archive has an almost pristine bound copy of the first year and a half of the Review (August 29, 1909 to February 18, 1911). Because the bound volumes are newsprint and in fragile condition, they have been microfilmed and researchers are required to use the microfilm. The only other source for the New York Review is the Billy Rose Theatre Collection, PARC, New York Public Library, Lincoln Center. Billy Rose has no originals but it does possess six reels of microfilm covering the period between 1909 and 1919 (Volume 1 and Volumes 6 through 19), although only about half of the material from each volume actually survives. The Archive hopes someday to find the missing volumes.
Pages to are hidden for
"behind"Please download to view full document