Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

CBS Buys Show; No One Cries "Foul"

Cleveland Press September 7, 1964

One big difference between Broadway and the American League -- and there must be many -- is that Broadway isn't clamoring for an investigation of the Columbia Broadcasting System.

CBS buys one little old baseball team and all of a sudden the "sport" is sullied. The same outfit puts up all the money (and it isn't the first time) for a new musical by Leonard Bernstein and everyone concerned is overjoyed.

There's no cry that art has been compromised, but certainly the theater, as commercial as it is, is more an art than professional baseball is a sport.

THE SHOW for which the network is sole backer is a musical version of Thornton Wilder's 1943 Pulitzer Prize winner, "The Skin of Our Teeth." Bernstein is composing the musical while on a sabbatical from his job as conductor of the New York Philharmonic. He's reported as working on a few other things, too.

Adolph Green and Betty Comden will prepare the adaptation and lyrics, Jerome Robbins will direct and choreograph and Leland Hayward will produce.

CBS is reported to be putting up $400,000. The company's role in backing "My Fair Lady" and the astronomical profits it has accrued has become legendary and is the sort of success story that keeps never say die Broadway investors gambling.

THE FIGURES on the CBS investment in the Lerner Loewe winner have been variously reported as ranging between $360,000 and $432,000. It doesn't matter at this point. Most observers agree that the company has netted an estimated $10,000,000 in profit since.

The show has grossed about $42,000,000 in theaters around the world and movie rights were worth another $5,500,000. CBS' Columbia Records division has sold $25,000,000 worth of original cast recording and will issue the sound track recording as well. After film rentals reach $20,000,000, Warner Bros., producers of the movie, will begin paying CBS 47.5% of future earnings. But only until 1971. At that time, CBS gets full ownership of the movie.

Naturally, part of the "Skin of Our Teeth" deal includes recording rights.

THERE ARE others invading Broadway. NBC, which will back the next Allan Jay Lerner show, already owns a sizable chunk of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" which has been running on Broadway since October, 1961.

Movie mogul Joseph E. Levine ("The Carpetbaggers," "A House Is Not a Home") has invaded the New York theater scene. His Embassy Pictures has formed a coalition with Talent Associates-Paramount, Ltd. with announced plans to invest upwards of $1,000,000 in the theater this season.

First venture will be "Kelly," a musical comedy, which will take half of their proposed investment to finance.

Levine, naturally, gets the motion picture rights.