Inheriting the Greatest Show on Earth:Three sisters prepare for the day their father will hand them the reins to the famous Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus company.
By Thomas Heath, Published: June 15
Nicole Feld got an early jolt in the hardball world of live entertainment — where her father and grandfather built legends — with the production of the 2006 Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus show.
Feld, then a 28-year-old vice president in her father’s sprawling company, had blown up the traditional three-ring circus model in favor of something hip. She threw out the tiger act. She threw out the cannon act. She threw out the trapeze artists. Even the three rings were tossed in favor of wall-to-wall music and massive, high-definition screens.
Critics savaged the show, calling it “Ringless Barnum and Bailey.” The circus salespeople rioted.
“It was a big waste of money . . . an enormous mistake,” said Dominique Jando of the San Francisco School of Circus Arts, who for years worked with Ringling rival Big Apple Circus. “Everybody was appalled. You don’t go to the circus to see technology. You go for the spectacle. It was such a poor reading of what their audience was and what [Ringling] was. Without the rings, it looked like a show on a parking lot.”
Nicole Feld’s father, Feld Entertainment Chairman Kenneth Feld, whose motto is “make your mistakes early,” stepped in. A director revamped the production. Within days, something resembling the three rings returned — along with the tigers, tread more at:apezes and tradition.
Looking back, Nicole, 34, acknowledges that “we messed with expectations.” She takes blame for the show, which came after extensive marketing research.
She chalks it up to a lesson learned on the path she and two sisters, Alana, 32, and Juliette, 28, are navigating as they prepare to assume control of the family’s Tysons Corner-based, billion-dollar entertainment empire.
read more at:http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/feld-entertainment-head-prepares-to-pass-his-empire-to-his-daughters/2012/06/14/gJQAYwN0eV_story.html