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Broadway Will Be Dark For Thanksgiving After Talks Break Down

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They'll be no Broadway shows for tourists this Thanksgiving weekend.

Broadway producers have cancelled performances through Sunday following a breakdown in talks over the weekend between the stagehands union and the League of American Theaters.

The two sides negotiated for 24 hours over the weekend but failed to reach a deal Sunday night.

More than two dozen shows are affected, making this the first time that much of Broadway will be dark during the lucrative Thanksgiving holiday.

However, the producers of "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" say they want their show to go on.

The producers of the show, which is running a limited engagement at the St. James Theater, say they have a separate contract with the union and they're ready to re-open the show — but that the Jujamcyn organization, which owns the theater, has locked the doors.

The show's producers plan to head to court on Tuesday to try to get the show re-opened.

The main sticking points between theater owners and stagehands include the number of stagehands required to work on "load-in days" -- set-up days when a show moves into a theater -- as well as the list of givebacks the union is looking for.

"We're trying to get rid of hiring people for jobs that don't have anything to do," said Charlotte St. Martin of the League of American Theatres and Producers. "It's not about lost jobs, it's about reducing jobs in positions that have nothing to do. It's a comprehensive proposal and we've addressed a number of issues that relate to paying people for work that they don't do, which our members just can't afford to continue to do."

"We are extremely disappointed that talks broke down because we offered a comprehensive proposal that we believed addressed their concerns about loss of jobs or loss of earnings and at the same time gave us more flexibility in hiring the people we need when we need them," continued St. Martin.

The stagehands union, Local One, had very little to say last night.

"I can inform you that the talks have broken off and the producers have informed Local One that what Local One had offered was not enough and that the producers have left the negiotation," said Local One spokesman Bruce Cohen. "Behind that, I have no comment."

Sources say the union's president returned to his California home following the breakdown Sunday night. While talks could continue without him, although none are scheduled and sources say his departure is a sign of how far apart the two sides are.

(For a recap of the issues, watch the press conferences held last weekend by the Theater League and officials of the striking stagehands union.)

Today marks the tenth day of the strike, which officials estimate is costing the theaters and surrounding businesses $2 million a day in lost revenue.

City Comptroller William Thompson says the economic impact of the strike could grow to six million if the strike is not settled soon and that it's not just the people who work on the shows that are affected.

"It's waiters, it's waitresses, it's everybody that really is touched by Broadway, at least in the short term,” said Thompson. “But, if you look at the longer term, that's where we have even bigger concerns, that if this strike stretches out, say for five or six weeks, what you may start to see then is, you know, people coming into town, who were going to take vacations to New York City starting to cancel their vacations."

More than two dozen Broadway shows are affected. Eight shows remain open under separate contracts with producers.

Theater-goers say they are disappointed by the cancellations.

"We just kind of made alternate plans, saw things that were going on,” said one theater fan. “I don't know. It's kind of disappointing. You know, you get here and it's like Îgee, what's up?’"

"It's quite disappointing really because it's the first time that I've actually booked tickets,” said another. “Although I've been before, it's the first time I've booked tickets for Broadway, so I did it all via the Internet before I got here."

Meanwhile, some of the restaurants currently struggling to draw crowds in the Theater District are offering a new incentive for patrons.

Twenty-five eateries are offering a 15-percent discount on lunch and dinner. The discount, which runs until the 25th, won't be available on Thanksgiving.

"Last night there was no discernable difference whatsoever,” said David Schmitt, a waiter at Broadway Joe Steakhouse. “We did have over 200 people in this little restaurant, so you know I'm not quite sure what the difference was. I was assigned to serving food and I know I kept serving food and people kept coming in the door and it was a normal November Saturday night.”

“[It’s been] terrible during the strike and a little bit of an impact with the discount,” said La Revista manager James Marchiognoli. “Some people asked. Last night, maybe seven or eight tables asked for the discount, but it was good. It was helpful."

The following restaurants are participating in Dining in the District:

  • '21’ Club
  • Bangkok House Restaurant
  • Barbetta
  • The Blue Point
  • Bombay Palace
  • Bond 45
  • Brazil Brazil Restaurant
  • Brooklyn Diner—Times Square
  • Broadway Joe Steakhouse
  • Charley O’s (713 Eighth Avenue and 1611 Broadway)
  • El Azteca Mexican Restaurant
  • Etcetera Etcetera Restaurant
  • Kyotofu
  • La Rivista Ristorante
  • Le Tre Venezie Restaurant
  • Metro Deli & Ranch 1
  • Murals on 54
  • Nocello
  • Osteria del Circo
  • Pergola Des Artistes
  • Rene Pujol Restaurant Cooperative
  • Restaurant Charlotte
  • Scarlatto Restaurant
  • Sofia’s Restaurant
  • Trattoria Dopo Teatro
  • ViceVersa Restaurant

    The following shows are dark due to the strike:

  • August: Osage County
  • Avenue Q
  • A Bronx Tale
  • Chicago
  • A Chorus Line
  • The Color Purple
  • Curtains
  • Cyrano de Bergerac
  • Drowsy Chaperone
  • The Farnsworth Invention
  • Grease
  • Hairspray
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  • Is He Dead?
  • Jersey Boys
  • Legally Blonde
  • Les Miserables
  • The Lion King
  • The Little Mermaid
  • Mamma Mia
  • Phantom of the Opera
  • Rent
  • Rock n' Roll
  • The Seafarer
  • Spamalot
  • Spring Awakening
  • Wicked

    TICKET REFUNDS

    NY1 offers refund information for shows affected by the strike.

    Theatergoers can also visit www.ILoveNYTheater.com for additional information.

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