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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

FROM HUFFINGTON POST---

The Circus Is in Town. Hurrah?


from: huffingtonpost.com
Publisher, Jay Weston's Restaurant Newsletter
by Jay Weston
07/15/2013

My favorite clown with a joyous little girl during the pre-show.
I am a circus nut... have been all my life. Growing up in the small town of Beacon, New York, I can remember going to every one-ring circus which hit our town and parked itself in a field on the outskirts of the city. When I grew up (yes I did) and became a movie producer, I spent many months trying to do a film about the Ringling Bros Clown School in Sarasota, Florida. I visited it and then rode on the train with the circus people to 'get background.' It never happened, much to my regret. (The clown school was founded in 1968 when new management realized that there were only 14 professional clowns in the circus and most were in their 50s.)
 
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A cafe full of tigers doing their tricks to a ringmaster's cracking whip.
My Huffington readers may recall a recent review of Paul Anka's biography, My Way, in which I told about my close friendship with Paul's longtime manager, Irv Feld. Feld-with his brother Izzy- had a chain of drugstores in Washington D.C. selling records, which led to their touring rock shows and talent management. In 1967 Irv and Izzy Feld joined with Judge Roy Hofheinz of Texas to buy the Ringling circus from the family and John Ringling for $8 million. Imagine my joy, guys whom I knew buying the world's most prestigious circus. Irv Feld immediately split the show into two touring units, a "Red" and a "Blue," which could tour the county independently, enabling audiences to see both shows. Irv's son Kenny joined the circus in1970, but in 1971 they sold the company to Mattel for $50 million in stock, retaining production control. They bought it back from Mattel in 1982 for $22.8 million, continuing their 26-year reign. They took over the 1,200 performers and employees, 500 circus animals and 98 railroad cars. Irv died in 1984 and Kenny has run the circus since. In 1994 Disney co-produced a video which featured Mickey Mouse and friends taking a trip through the Ringling Circus, and two years later Feld Entertainment was created as a parent company for the circus and a skating-themed show, "Disney On Ice. " The company also produces several large-scale Broadway and Las Vegas productions. Yes, Kenny Feld is smart; the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. (I remember going to his bar mitzvah, then over the years watching the young man grow into the confident manager of this business despite family turmoil) Today the circus maintains two train-based shows and a truck-base smaller one. Each train is a mile long with about 60 cars, 40 passenger cars and 20 freight. Each train produces a full three-ring show all year long except December, when they are off. Ken's daughter, Nicole, controls the Blue Train tour; she is obviously training for her dad's job.
read more:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jay-weston/the-circus-is-intown-hurr_b_3595744.html

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