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LuPone And The Saga Of The Setting Of 'Sunset Blvd'

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MamasDoin'Fine
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LuPone And The Saga Of  The Setting Of 'Sunset Blvd'
Patti LuPone, who initially had been promised the Broadway run, sued Lloyd Webber and received a settlement reported to be $1M.
Faye Dunaway, was all set to replace Glen Close in L.A, was let go because Lloyd Webber felt her singing voice was not up to the role.
She also sued Lloyd Webber.
Frank Rich, in his book 'The Hot Seat', noted that these lawsuits contributed majorly to 'Sunset Boulevard' setting the record for the most money lost by a theatrical endeavor in the history of the United States. According to The New York Times, operating costs soared far beyond the budget, and the 'Broadway production has earned back, at best, 80% of the initial $13M.
For example, during the week of July 2, 1995, 'it cost $731,304 to run 'Sunset Boulevard', including fees for: advertising- $138,352 (which had been budgeted at $40,000 a week)'
The road companies also generated large financial losses. Rich puts the final figure near or above US$20M lost, making the show what he termed a 'flop-hit' as it ran more than two years.

Here are a few articles from the press that include a few lines about her leaving the production of 'Sunset'.
She really does come over as a very unlikable, hard, arrogant person. Read what she says about the London production of 'Master Class'!
Good ridence was the general feeling the day she left the London production.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/second-first-night--hope-dawns-for-sunset-boulevard-sunset-boulevard-adelphi-theatre-1371162.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/theobserver/1999/aug/08/featuresreview.review6

More as I find them.



http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_hi4TbVj_QiY/SXiTZNaFOdI/AAAAAAAADtc/ZSI8zy5Y03Q/s320/Patti+LuPone+Remixed.bmp



Updated On: 1/28/10 at 05:07 PM
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devonian.t
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I saw incarnations of the show. I remember sitting in bafflement with version 1. It was so flabby. Do you remember the Charlie Chaplin bit?!?!

Then version 2 was much better, and the final film whirling around Betty Buckley was a thrilling climax.

Then Elaine Paige took over and for me the show really came together.

But, my word, what a painful process.

Let's not mention the national tour, though, which was farcical.
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MamasDoin'Fine
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Lupone was dreadful and as you said, that Chaplin bit!, wasn't it when they were entertaining each other or something- just bizarre.

Elaine Paige, to me, was the best of them all.
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devonian.t
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I think it was in The Lady's paying wasn't it? I remember her appearing from behind a costume rail in a bowler hat and moustache...

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hotjohn
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There must be a great book to be written about the whole Sunset Boulevard fiasco. I saw Masterclass and I was glad I did (I left the sheep at home that night, though).

Thanks for the links Mama, I look forward to more gems of information.
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Interesting reading! I'm not surprised at how La LuPone comes across but I find it bizarre that ALW made the same mistake twice in issuing a contract when he obviously wasn't 100% sure about the casting choice. :-?
Seen some shows in my time....
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I have always said that RUC have always been lousy producers, so much so that the lead producers of RUC went on to produce Lord of the Rings, the biggest theatre flop of all time, the RUC do not appear to have producers instinct like Cameroon Mackintosh or Maria Friedman for example.

I saw both versions of Sunset Boulevard with Patti and Betty, I enjoyed both, but then again I was very young. Always been a big regret I did not see Sunset Boulevard with Elaine and Glenn, but in those days I was very skint!

I enjoyed reading both articles at the beginning of the thread, cheers.
Updated On: 1/28/10 at 06:25 PM
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Princeton2
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Thanks for this, all very interesting. The book about the making of Sunset Blvd is one of my favourites, sadly it doesnt feature the goss behind the scenes lol

Regarding the charlie Chaplin bit, that was in the movie so im guessing they just tried to make it work on stage.

Phantom I think you mean Sonia Friedman lol
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The 'original' original Norma- Miss Ria Jones.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJy3qyiBLqc
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"I have always said that RUC have always been lousy producers, so much so that the lead producers of RUC went on to produce Lord of the Rings, the biggest theatre flop of all time, the RUC do not appear to have producers instinct like Cameroon Mackintosh or Maria Friedman for example."

I don't think it's fair to say that RUG have always been lousy producers. Certainly in the 80s they were **** hot; post-Biddy Hayward perhaps things started to fall apart but the company that came up with a workable reality TV casting format must have some producing nouse (even if both SOUND OF MUSIC and JOSEPH have had their tribulations.) And there's only so much you can do if no-one wants to see the show your boss has written.

Sonia Friedman knows what she's doing - she's also not operating on anything like the scale of RUG. SFP's main output are plays cast with major/minor celebs; she also mostly co-produces with others like ATG (from whom I believe she leases her office space?), ACT... all the usual suspects, whereas RUG regularly produces shows on its own. SFP, you may recall, co-produced WOMAN IN WHITE with RUG...

As for SUNSET... I love the show, I think it's one of ALW's strongest works, but it never makes money anywhere (except perhaps the last London production and maybe the current Swedish one in rep?). The original production was incredible to behold, the car chase and lead into the house on Sunset was amazing... And I have a real soft spot for the LuPone/Anderson/Benzali recording - I have no idea how it played on stage, I didn't see it until Petula Clark took over.

I read an article some years back in one of the US papers that basically stated the reason SUNSET never made any money was the royalty package - ALW took a royalty both as score writer and as orchestrator (I believe?), plus a producer's royalty for RUG, so although he personally raked in cash from the show his company constantly lost it.
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ALW and RUG realy arent't great producers - Webber is to up the air and not decieve enough - plus in the 80s/90s he drank like a fish!
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What a great thread! I had no idea about all the turmoil. I saw it quite soon after it opened the first time and there was no Charlie Chaplin bit so I guess that went quite quickly. Otherwise I liked Patti Lupone in the role. In fact I wrote to say I was sorry New York wouldnt be seeing her in Sunset and she wrote back. I didn't know she was so disliked.
I saw it after the retool and much preferred it. Also I thought Betty Buckly was great in the role and the final moment with the film around Norma has stayed with me ever since.
Great theatre. Thanks for all the research Mama.
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I love Patti Lupone. I feel pretty bad for her to be honest. Granted she might have been a bitch at times but at least she doesn't try and hide the fact. I say Viva La Lupone and bring her over with Gypsy :)
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