Winter’s on the Way: The Rockefeller Center Ice Skating Rink Opens

Rockefeller Center Ice Skating RinkYou may not have carved your pumpkin or basted your turkey yet, but wintry pastimes have already come to New York City: The Rockefeller Center Ice Skating Rink has officially opened for the season, with other rinks to follow soon.
Open from October through April, the rink first welcomed skaters on Christmas Day, 1936. At only 122 feet long and 59 feet wide, and able to hold (safely) only 150 skaters at one time, it probably packs more punch per square foot than any other ice skating rink in the world. (The rink is located between 47th and 50th Streets and 5th and 7th Avenues, in the middle of a maze of buildings. It accepts cash only; 212 332-7654.)
The rink offers skate rentals and lessons, and generally charges a premium for visitors to be able to say they skated at Rockefeller Center. (The big lure, of course, is to be able to say you skated near the Christmas tree, which makes its debut early in December.)
But the Rockefeller Center Ice Skating Rink isn’t the only game in town. There’s Wollman Rink in Central Park, which opens this Friday, October 23, for the season, and is located mid-Central Park (212 439-6900); and Lasker Rink, located at the very north end of Central Park near 110th Street (917 492-3857); the rink is scheduled to open on October 27.
With winter seemingly here already, can Memorial Day be far behind?

Fela! Begins Performances On Broadway October 19

Fela Broadway MusicalFollowing a brief but buzz-generating Off-Broadway run, the new musical Fela! comes to Broadway for a run at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre. Directed and choreographed by modern dance legend Bill T. Jones (who previously electrified Broadway with his Spring Awakening choreography, for which he won a Tony Award), Fela! is about the life and music of African musician Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Bill T. Jones and Jim Lewis wrote the book for the biographical musical, which features Fela’s own music, performed onstage by local Afrobeat group Antibalas. The role of the musical’s hero is performed alternately by Sahr Ngaujah and Kevin Mambo. Fela! is set for an official Broadway opening on November 23.

The Royal Family Extends Through Mid-December

The Royal Family Broadway PlayThe Manhattan Theatre Club’s new production of the comedy The Royal Family will be reigning supreme at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on Broadway for an extra two weeks. It was recently announced that the limited-run production will not close on November 29 as was originally planned, but instead the show will continue its Broadway run on through December 13. The extension of the 1929 play about a renowned showbiz family, which was written by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber, was due to popular demand, which is no surprise given The Royal Family‘s impressive cast list. The production stars an excellent cast of theater notables, including Rosemary Harris, John Glover, Larry Pine, Jan Maxwell, Reg Rogers, and Ana Gasteyer.

Bid To See A Steady Rain and Meet Hugh Jackman

A Steady Rain Broadway ShowThe only thing better than seeing Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig live on stage at the Schoenfeld Theatre on Broadway in A Steady Rain? Seeing them in A Steady Rain then actually getting to meet Hugh Jackman in person after the show. Which you can do, if you bid on this charity auction for the opportunity to get two tickets to the show and a meet-and-greet with Jackman. The current bid is at $2,250, and the auction doesn’t end for another six days. Although the price is obviously steep, Jackman will be donating the money to a good cause, Oprah’s Angel Network. And when you consider you’re getting two tickets to the ‘hot ticket’ Broadway show of the season, as well as the chance to chat and get a photo with a major movie star, it’s not such a bad deal.

When it Comes to Restaurants, Survey Shows What We Already Knew

Tim and Nina ZagatYou probably didn’t need a survey–or any kind of official report–to tell you this, but New Yorkers are eating out less. The results of the 2010 Zagat New York City Restaurant Survey, recently released, shows what you undoubtedly already knew: Due to the shaky economy, New Yorkers are forgoing pricey restaurant meals for their own kitchens. Covering more than 2,000 restaurants, the survey, released on the website zagat.com, is based on feedback from more than 38,000 diners.
Not only are New Yorkers eating out less (3 times per week, as opposed to 3.3 to 3.4 times during the last four years), they’ve changed their entire approach to dining out as well. Appetizers or dessert? No thanks, say 21 percent. Alcohol? Nineteen percent are opting to take a pass. And corporate entertaining? Forget it. That way of life belongs to another era.
Any upside to all this? Well, if you do eat out, you can expect better service, an easier time getting a table, and maybe some good deals to boot, as restaurants try to lure you in.
And one odd note that seems totally at odds with this report: Despite the economy, last year saw more restaurant openings than closings in the city. Almost 50 more restaurants opened than closed: 157 openings, as opposed to 102 closings.
Brave or foolish? Worth the money?
Well, it’ll be easier to get a table and find out, that’s for sure.

New Cast For God of Carnage

Yasmina Reza’s dark comedy God of Carnage, a breakout hit last season and the Best Play Tony Award winner, is still going strong at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on Broadway. Unfortunately its all-star cast – James Gandolfini, Marcia Gay Harden, Jeff Daniels, and Hope Davis – wasn’t prepared for such a long run, so the show’s producers are having to bring in a new cast in order to keep the show running. The good news is that they have secured some fine actors. As of November 17, the four actors playing God of Carnage‘s dysfunctional couples will be Jimmy Smits, Annie Potts, Christine Lahti, and Ken Stott (who was in the original London production of the play).

Replacement Cast For God of Carnage Announced

Jimmy SmitsYasmina Reza’s dark comedy God of Carnage, a breakout hit last season and the Best Play Tony Award winner, is still going strong at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on Broadway. Unfortunately its all-star cast – James Gandolfini, Marcia Gay Harden, Jeff Daniels, and Hope Davis – wasn’t prepared for such a long run, so the show’s producers are having to bring in a new cast in order to keep the play running. The good news is that they have secured some fine actors. As of November 17, the four actors playing God of Carnage’s dysfunctional couples will be Jimmy Smits, Annie Potts, Christine Lahti, and Ken Stott (who was in the original London production of the play).

The Domain Name BroadwayShows.com Up For Sale – Again

Just as the fall leaves come and go, the much-sought-after domain name of www.broadwayshows.com is up for auction, yet again.

Its unclear just how many times this URL has been put up at auction, although records indicate that its at least been a couple of times in the last year-once at the TRAFFIC 2008 Domain Conference & Expo and now once again at TRAFFIC at New York on October 26th 2009.
broadwayshows.com has a lot of promise, but with a reserve price of $800,000, its unclear who would want it at that price. Even at $800K, the domain comes with no brand established, no content, backlink anorexic and a pagerank of 2. What it does have going for it is a great set of keywords, two keywords in particular – “Broadway” and “Shows” that almost certainly guarantee a top slot in Google when some actual Broadway show content is finally posted.

Lets examine who in the Broadway business community would be interested in buying the url and why it doesn’t make financial sense to any of them – Analysis that the domain owner probably hasn’t done.

BROADWAY SHOW PRODUCER – The URL is too generic and the investment amount is too high – would be a great as a landing page for producers that have a Broadway show track record, but the financial backers for each show aren’t going to support a development that is not specific to their show – this means that the producer themselves would have to stump up the cash – producers don’t have that kind of investment cash, and if they do its for show investment where they can get immediate investment recoup.

THEATRE OWNER – The URL is too generic for the theatre owners, but could work for Jujamcyn which owns a number of theaters – The investment amount is unrealistic though as they don’t actually sell any tickets, which is where the assumed recoup is in this case. This would be a straight power play to establish a theatre owner on the web – But they really don’t need the retail customer to know who they are unless they have an ego to stroke.

BROADWAY SOCIAL NETWORKING WEBSITE – Great URL, but eats a massive amount of funding – social networking sites are usually about organic growth with a new brand, there is no brand here, just familiar terms which bring good traffic, but poor brand.

OFFICIAL TICKET OUTLETS – Ticketmaster and Telecharge wouldn’t look twice at this as their brand recognition is already strong and no new ticket companies can move into this space because of the ticket sales duopoly on Broadway.

BROADWAY TICKET RESELLER – Sites like ticketsnow.com and others would love the traffic from this URL , but only at a 1/20th of the price – They don’t have that kind of investment capital. The Broadway show business is not big and fast enough to recoup the investment. If the URL wasn’t so “Broadway” focused, it might have wider appeal.

DISCOUNT TICKET WEBSITES – Great traffic from this URL , but would they never have that kind of investment capital. The investment recoup would take 10+ years, in terms of internet growth and changes that may be an eternity.

BROADWAY MARKETING & ADVERTISING COMPANY – They wouldn’t know what to do with it and would probably mothball it (better to keep it out of someone else’s hands than actually develop something useful) They might be able to raise the capital though, would suit someone like Serino Coyne, that is part of a bigger group with deep financial pockets.

The cynic in me says that this auction is nothing more than a lazy way of promoting the URL without actually doing anything useful. It may increase the URL awareness, but domain speculation is so 2001. The current domain owners should be careful because if the eminent domain law ever gets passed they would lose the URL in one second flat – like the proverbial empty house right in the middle of the path of the road construction.

For example, if the famous broadway.com (Which is a secondary market ticket broker) was just beginning today, it wouldn’t have invested in an expensive URL and probably would have been called secondarymarketbroadwaytickets.com, thus losing its edge, fame and success. broadwayshows.com won’t be sold to a Broadway.com after-market competitor because the initial investment far outstrips the potential recoup in their line of business, unless they can cross sell it to another part of the business, like concert ticket sales for instance – Problem is the URL says Broadway shows, not Miley Cyrus.

So what’s the true value of broadwayshows.com – Probably $100k if it gets sold to another domain speculator or $50k if its sold to an actual Broadway company that does something with it.

So who will ultimately buy this white elephant ? My bet is that if its ever gets sold, its going to be another domain name speculator who, you guessed it, ends up trying to auction it at TRAFFIC 2010 Las Vegas as a white elephant with a suntan.

Yes, It’s Been Half a Century: Lincoln Center Turns 50

The Fountain at Lincoln CenterHow old have we all gotten??? First comedy troupe Monty Python turns 40, now New York’s Lincoln Center turns 50. To celebrate, the arts organization is throwing itself a party, of sorts. “Lincoln Center: Celebrating 50 Years” will be on view at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center (40 Lincoln Center Plaza; 212 870-1630), running today (October 15) through January 16, 2010. This is the first major exhibition to focus on Lincoln Center’s impact on the arts, the city, and the world, from its beginning in the mid-1950s through today.
The exhibition includes approximately 400 objects, among them costumes, photographs, video recordings, props, and set pieces. Among the offerings? The elaborate gown that Beverly Sills wore at her farewell performance; an Andy Warhol-designed poster for the 1967 New York Film Festival; and Leonard Bernstein’s concert tuxedo.
Visitors who haven’t been to Lincoln Center in a while will get a nice surprise; the fountain, under renovation for quite a while, has returned in a blaze of glory, or at least, sprays of water. The redesign has turned the fountain into a sort of floating ring, with open views across the plaza. A little bit of Disney-type magic has crept in as well—new nozzles and lighting systems will allow for special-effect light and water displays. At night, white lights will illuminate the various watery effects.
Trivia quiz: The fountain is something of a movie star—do you know any of the films it has appeared in?

Ghostbusters, The Producers, and Moonstruck, to name a few.

Let the Wild Rumpus Begin: It’s Wild Things Week in New York

Where the Wild Things AreStop gnashing your terrible teeth–the wait is almost over, and the filmed version of what is perhaps the most iconic children’s picture book of all time opens this Friday, October 16. In preparation for the Spike Jonze-directed version of Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are,” New York is going a little wild itself with a “Where the Wild Things Are” week to celebrate Max and his nighttime adventures.
Events are happening all over the city—museums in particular are creating a rumpus. You can start off with a look at Sendak’s original artwork at the Morgan Library and Museum, on view through November 1. The exhibition includes early drafts of the book, as well as a preliminary sketch for the cover. (225 Madison Avenue; 212 685-0008).
Over at MOMA, you can see “Spike Jonze: The First 80 Years,” the first retrospective of the director’s career. The series runs through October 18, and includes a look at his earlier work (skateboard videos—who knew?) as well as films like ”Being John Malkovich.” (11 w. 53rd Street. 212 708-9400).
Oh, right—kids like the book, too. So take them to the Children’s Museum of the Arts, where they can take a stop-motion animation workshop and bring wild things to life (182 Lafayette Street; 212-274-1776).
Finally, you can get into the action—literally—with the Kodak photo booth, which allows families to superimpose themselves into scenes with the Wild Things. Booths are located at The New York Public Library’s Children’s Center (42nd Street and Fifth Avenue; 212-621-0208) on Oct. 14 and 17; and at the Official NYC Information Center (810 7th Avenue; 212 484-1222) through October 16.
And when you get home, if you’re very lucky, your supper will still be hot.