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Joined: Dec 22, 2009
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March 4th, 2011 at 6:05:54 PM permalink
Sorry for a long post but I have this problem involving Queen, the rock band. I'm the underdog here, so if you like rooting for underdogs, then read this post.

Many of you know me as the author of sci-fi gambling stories posted on here. Well, I also wrote a rock opera using 23 songs from the band Queen. Think "Mamma Mia" only with Queen instead of Abba. The name of the play is "THE FAIRY FELLERS MASTER-STROKE". I wrote it 20 years ago, but being a junior in college with no connections it just became this dream project and I buried it in my draw.

Now, however things are different(I still don't know anyone in the industry) but the climate for these musicals is ripe. Mamma Mia, Jersey Boys, etc. They even call them "Jukebox musicals" which they didn't when I first wrote it.

So, I dug out the material(script and demo cd which still works) and decided I have to try to get this produced. It's fabulous and its now or never. Using the internet(another thing that makes this possible from 20 years ago) I contacted Jim Beach, the attorney/manager for Queen. He lives in Switzerland and he spoke to me(very polite) when I cold called him about the rights. I figured if I can ascertain the availability/feasability of such a project, I could then approach Broadway producers about the legal wrangling, etc.

Now, I guess I need to backtrack just a moment. Here's where it gets tricky. In 2002 Queen had the idea to do a rock opera using their songs as well. They produced this show of theirs called "WE WILL ROCK YOU". Now before you say anything, the two shows are completely different(aside from the basic concept of using Queen songs.)

The songs are different(2 songs from my 23 are shared). The characters, story, setting, everything is different. WWRY (which is playing on Londons West End) is a Orwellian future where rock and roll is banned and a group of Bohemians goes on an adventure to bring the magic of the music back. After fighting the evil "Killer Queen" who controls the government, They discover the soul of Freddie Mercury and rock and roll is returned.

Now my story-FFMS-is a fairy tale set in the dark ages, in a mythical kingdom called Rhye. The Prince of Rhye is being forced to marry the White Queen who he does not love and he runs away. He ends up falling in with a group of Fairies(a gay metaphor but they are represented as winged mythology) and he is seduced by the Black Queen, a trans-gender leader of the Fairies. There is a lot more, with Ogres, a Prophet and evil religious transformation, a coming out scene, lots of good stuff filled with symbolism. Freddie Mercury was openly gay and many of his lyrics represent that. Of course, the other play WWRY didn't use any of "those" songs but I feel my play is the much stronger one because of that.

Okay, so this other play, WWRY has been a huge success. It's been playing for nine years at the Dominion in London's West End to sold out seats(It has 2,000 seats, London's largest theater) WWRY has already broken the record for longest running play in the West End(formerly held by Grease).

So, I thought the guys at Queen would at least hear my show. After all, anybody who makes a billion dollars, usually wants to repeat the process. And why not listen to what might be a big follow-up hit. So I called their attorney, Jim Beach.

And he quickly told me that there was a "non-compete" clause in WWRY so basically, no other show can go up to compete with WWRY. It's touring the world and I guess it's good business sense for them, but my 20 year dream has been crushed over a fucking legal technicality.

Now, I'm not one to give up. It occurred to me that there is one company in all the world that can produce this--the one that produced WWRY. To them, it would not be competing, it would be expanding an already lucrative franchise. That company happens to be Tribeca Productions in NYC(Robert DeNiro's company) co-produced with Phil Mcintyre Prod. in England(so actually there's two companies that can produce this although I imagine they both have to be in agreement.)

Since I live in NYC I decided to cold call Tribeca. I asked to speak with the person in charge of WWRY. I got through to the persons assistant and they asked what the call was about. I told them I wanted to submit a rock opera I wrote when they interrupted me with "Sorry, we don't accept unsolicited submissions". I quickly blurted out that this was a follow-up to WWRY featuring different songs from Queen and this would be an expansion of their franchise. I waited for the hang-up click but it didn't come. She asked for my name and number and said the right people would get back to me. WOW!

So, I did some more digging and discovered that there was an announcement for a sequel to WWRY back in 2008. They were so happy with the BO, they wanted to expand the franchise, but something happened to those plans, because three years later, there has not been a single word about this sequel. Honestly, I believe the script they came up with was probably not very good.

Unlike movies, plays have staying power. You don't see too many sequels because of that(ever heard of Chicago 2, or Les Miserable 3). To do a sequel on stage, you want it as good as the original if not better. And finding links between songs is usually more happenstance than skill(otherwise all you have is a glorified concert).

So, here's the thing. Tribeca Prods. obviously wants to do a sequel/follow-up to WWRY. Only they can do it as they have Queen's music rights tied up. I have a script with full demo cd-it's 98% music - very little dialogue outside the songs. It's very powerful! And I'm still waiting for the right people to call. As I cold called them and I have no real credentials, I don't expect them to come rushing to my door. But I believe I have something they need.

I need an attorney skilled with entertainment theatrical law to rep me. Hell, I'm sure I'll screw up any discussions I have with them. I'm an artiste, not a negotiator. So I',m looking for help. I've spoken with a few entertainment attorneys with major clout here in NYC(I can tell you who if requested) but they all want retainers to start and I'm cash-strapped. I'm facing eviction for non-payment of rent every other month as I work job-to-job. (Yes, truly I am a starving artist although in NYC you can't really starve).

So, first are there any entertainment attorneys on here with theatrical stage law experience willing to work pro buono? And secondly, is there any interest in becoming a partner with me to get the attorney's ball rolling by putting up the retainer fee? I'm only going to have one shot at this since if Tribeca doesn't bite, there is no other production company that can legally be approached. But I feel this is a good gamble(see how I skillfully tie this post into gambling) with an incredible return if the play gets produced.

Anyone interested, I can email you the script and audio files to listen to the play. You'll love it, I'm sure and want to fight to get this made. And who doesn't want a chance to get involved with show business. If it becomes a question of partnership, then we can discuss contracts for your investment and profit return, etc. I would imagine credit as Executive Producer or Associate Producer would be offered. The attorney that's hired would figure that all out.

Sorry again for the long ramble but I wanted you to hear everything.
Thanks, Aaron Denenberg.

Here is a link to a short doc on WWRY. You can see there are some big players that will be involved if this show of mine gets traction.

Also, if anyone just wants to hear the play to offer a critique, I can send it to you as well. Wizard, you're one my fans and I would love to get your personal opinion on it. Thanks again, guys.
For Whom the bus tolls; The bus tolls for thee
Joined: Dec 3, 2009
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March 4th, 2011 at 7:34:19 PM permalink
1. I was under the impression the mousetrap or les
Mis were the longest running west end productions.

2. Send me a pm. I am an attorney, though a young one- and not licensed in NY. Nonetheless, I can give you whatever advice I may have free of charge. Any friend of the wiz's is a friend of mine. I went to a decent
Law school and got an a+ in copyright, for what that's worth.

3. Most ent lawyers won't take a new client on a contingency, which may explain your difficulty so far.
Joined: Dec 22, 2009
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March 4th, 2011 at 9:37:05 PM permalink
Thanks, Dlevinelaw

It's the longest running show at the Dominion on the West End, whose previous record holder was Grease. Thanks for the correction.

I'll PM with some questions as they come up.
For Whom the bus tolls; The bus tolls for thee

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