Monday, January 19, 2009

Gene Kelly Danced!

All she said was "I want Gene Kelly to Dance".

I had just booked Gene Kelly at two mall appearances, and that along was tough enough. Dance? I don't think so. Besides, dancing wasn't part of the deal.

He had already approved the schedule and signed the contract. His first appearance would be at the newly opened Omni Center in Atlanta (now the CNN Center), and then by private jet for the opening of the Greenville Mall. And he was making more than we had paid anyone else.

The chances of Gene Kelly agreeing to dance on a portable stage in the middle of a shopping center in Greenville South Carolina, was hard to imagine. Really hard to imagine.

But, I picked up the phone and called, Mort Viner who was Gene's agent. We got along well, and I told him what my client wanted. He laughed for 5 minutes. And then, as only a good agent did, he stopped laughing and said..."He'll do it for an additional $100,000 + plus expenses".

Now, I was between a the proverbial rock and hard place. I called her back and gave her the 'good news'. I told her what 'dancing' involved, knowing full well that Mort didn't expect to negotiate...or for me to even come back with a counter offer.

Then I the asked her what she really wanted. "I just wanted to see him dance a little", she said.

Ok, that's different. I had a plan.

The first appearance at the Omni Center was a big hit. They got great local coverage, and the place was mobbed. He did advance phoners (although he did call the papers collect), and was every bit the professional that I knew he would be.

His next appearance in Greenville went off exactly as we planned.

I told them to place the entrance to the 'stage' as far upstage right as possible, and then place the microphone as far downstage left as possible. He would have to walk the full diagonal of the stage, some 50 feet. The instant his foot was on the stage, play the soundtrack from Singing in the Rain.

I was banking on the fact that it would be hard for a dancer to just 'walk' 50 feet on stage in front of an audience.

As soon as he was on stage, it happened. Gene Kelly danced.

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