Don’t be fooled by Broadway producer Scott Rudin’s sudden act of contrition this morning. He’s not stepping away from anything. He’s saving his mega expensive production of “The Music Man” starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster, set to open next winter.
Rudin sent an email to The Washington Post’s Peter Marks saying he was “stepping away” from his company after reports of his atrocious behavior for years to everyone who worked for him, with him, near him, within miles of his presence. The Broadway actress Karen Olivo, who isn’t even in one of his shows, said she was leaving “Moulin Rouge” because of the silence after the reports.
Rudin sent his message not to the New York Times but to an out of town paper, on a weekend, for a reason. He is cynical enough to figure out it means nothing. It was a dodge. But for a reason.
There were reports in the last week that Jackman was going to drop out of “The Music Man” if Rudin didn’t do something. Foster certainly would have, she doesn’t need the money. Neither of them does. Members of the “Music Man” production were ready to leave also, I’m told, if Rudin didn’t acquiesce before there was a mutiny on his bounty.
So now he says he’s “stepping away.” I call b.s. His first lieutenant, Eli Bush, who knows where all the bodies are buried, will just keep running things. Rudin will tell him what to do. Rudin will carry out his vendettas using others from his company and nothing will change. If you believe his statement, I have some land for you in Kabul.
He wrote to Marks:
“Much has been written about my history of troubling interactions with colleagues, and I am profoundly sorry for the pain my behavior caused to individuals, directly and indirectly,” he wrote in a three-paragraph statement emailed to The Post.
“After a period of reflection, I’ve made the decision to step back from active participation on our Broadway productions, effective immediately. My roles will be filled by others from the Broadway community and in a number of cases, from the roster of participants already in place on those shows.”
“My passionate hope and expectation is that Broadway will reopen successfully very soon, and that the many talented artists associated with it will once again begin to thrive and share their artistry with the world. I do not want any controversy associated with me to interrupt Broadway’s well deserved return, or specifically, the return of the 1500 people working on these shows.”
There isn’t a person involved with Broadway who didn’t do a spit take today when they read this statement.
“The Music Man” is a big ticket project. Delayed for a year, it must go on. The stars cannot leave. Rudin is charging hundreds of dollars for tickets, just as he did with “Hello, Dolly!” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Absolutely nothing will change except maybe his name will come off the marquee, for now. But don’t be gullible: Rudin will be there in the dark, in his cream colored sweater, taking names from the first night of rehearsal.
Like Harold Hill, the snake oil salesman of “The Music Man,” he’s never going to stop causing trouble with a capital T right here in River City.