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An Interview with the Infamous Michael Riedel

"I'd like to see the theater become part of contemporary culture again. I think that it's a real problem for the theater, and these shows. You see that they are not tapping into anything that's going on in the world today."

I recently sat down at Angus McIndoe for lunch with the New York Post's always controversial columnist - Michael Riedel. It was an interview interrupted many times by theater notables stopping by to see him, then returning to their tables to send him drinks. Michael's in a unique position in the theater world, leading him to wonder aloud – were the drinks laced with poison?

Let's start at the beginning – when did your interest in theater begin?

I did some plays in high school which I had a good time doing. I remember doing the all-Christian version of The Diary of Anne Frank. I went to a small Catholic school in upstate New York with no Jewish people in the town, so it was all Catholics and Presbyterians playing Otto Frank, Mr. Dussel, everyone, but I remember enjoying doing that play very much and enjoyed my first time up on stage.

It must have been 7th grade and I played Dussel the dentist. Of course if you've read the later writings about Anne Frank it turns out that he was also a pedophile and molesting them but we were doing the nice cleaned up Broadway Frances Goodrich, and Albert Hackett version of the show.

Growing up, I saw a few of the shows that would come through Rochester, New York where I'm from; so it was some of the traveling shows that I saw like Barnum, and I think that I saw Hello Dolly! with Carol Channing.

I can't say though that they made any tremendous impression on me, or that I was wildly interested in the theater or that I wanted to be in the theater myself. I was interested in politics very much when I was growing up and that's what I think I really wanted to be – either a senator, or a Supreme Court Justice, and I always wanted to be a lawyer. I think that I began to get interested in the theater when I came to New York on a trip with my mother when I was in high school and I saw

42nd Street
, which I thought was your typical kind of old-fashioned Broadway show, and the next night I saw the original cast of Nine. Nine was the first Broadway kind of show where I thought "hmmnn – now this is intriguing!" It seemed incredibly sophisticated to a kid from a small town to see this glossy, sheik Tommy Tune production with all these sexy women. I remember Anita Morris in a skin-tight dress rolling around on that spa block and a lot of my early interest in Broadway theater stemmed from that experience.

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Robert Diamond Robert Diamond founded BroadwayWorld.com in 2003, which has now become the largest theatre web site in the world. He also serves as the site's Editor-in-Chief, covering Broadway and beyond, with specific local coverage for 100 cities in the United States, 30 countries worldwide and 15 other related areas of entertainment - including dance, opera, fashion, concerts, comedy, films, television and more.

The 2001 Syracuse University graduate (School of Information Studies) is also the owner of Wisdom Digital Media, an award-winning leading design company for entertainment and technology web sites. In his previous life, he held an executive position for the world's leading publisher of technology magazines, web sites and conferences and, as a result, was named among the "Top thirty magazine industry executives under the age of 30" by FOLIO Magazine.

Diamond got his start in the entertainment field, accidentally, when he created the 'official web site' (while in college) for Michael Crawford, the popular actor and original Tony and Olivier Award-winning star of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. (He still blames Crawford - and credits him - for anything that goes particularly right or wrong during an average day.)

As a respected member of the Broadway and theatre community, Diamond also served as Lead Producer for a series of sold-out shows using the BroadwayWorld.com 'brand' for a set of 'Standing Ovations' concerts, which also branched out into titles that included Holiday Shows and even more specific concerts like 'From Stage to Screen and Back Again' in tandem with publishers and movie studios. All proceeds were in turn donated to Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS, the industry's leader in aid for performers in need.

Robert lives in Manhattan with his wife and two dogs, growing the business and getting little sleep. In addition, you can usually find him in a theatre many nights a week.

Robert's very popular blog, 'The Broadway Pulse' appears daily on BroadwayWorld.com and he also writes weekly about theatre for the USA Network's Character Approved blog.

In December of last year, Diamond was one of 5 Syracuse University Alumni, all having achieved success in the world of start-ups, business growth and venture capital, participating on a panel addressing young alumni who are currently pursuing their dreams of running their own business and experiencing the day to day challenges of a startup. It is part of the university's new Student Accelerator Program, for which Rob was recommended by Syracuse University's i-School.