The Goal of Living

New Line doesn't pay very well. That's no secret; it's just the way it is. We can only do the kind of alternative work we do -- and balance our budget and stay in business -- by paying everyone (me included) far less than they're worth. So why do so many astoundingly talented people work with us, in some cases, over and over?

I'd like to think it's because of my sparkling personality and my musical theatre brilliance, but it's not. It's because of the work. When else will an actor get a chance to work on a bizarre but brilliant show like Return to the Forbidden Planet? Or High Fidelity? Or The Nervous Set?

And our musicians work with us for the same reason. How often do they get a chance to play the music of amazing composers like Bill Finn or Adam Guettel or Galt MacDermot? And the same is true for our designers, our techies... all of us. It's the cool, interesting, unusual work that brings us together and it's that work that makes us all do our very best.

The same is true of Matt Reedy, our graphic designer and unsung New Line hero. He's been designing our posters for about four years now. Before him, Kris Wright did equally wonderful work. What Kris and Matt really understand about poster art is that the art really does have a concrete agenda -- more so than with other visual art -- in this case, to get the viewer to buy a ticket. These guys are so terrific at what they do -- from understanding the nature of the show, its style, its tone, its themes; to understanding what about this show will be interesting to the audience; to translating those insights into visual images, and laying out way more additional text than I'm sure they'd prefer. But every time I get one of their designs, I'm dumbstruck at how exactly right it is for that show.

The Sun Records label - compare it to the Love Kills poster...In the case of Love Kills, Matt started out with the famous Sun Records label, invoking the rock & roll that both articulated the pain and confusion of teens like Charlie and Caril, but also fueled their feelings of separateness and oppression -- and sexuality. Rock & roll took seriously the feelings of kids like Charlie and Caril. In parallel to the show itself, Matt fills the rock and roll with images of violence instead of the musical images on the original. Talk about a picture being worth a thousand words. You look at this poster and you know exactly what this show is going to be like.

Pretty cool, isn't it?

I have this theory, that the reason the TV dramas on HBO and Showtime are so superior to the shows on the other networks is their no-exceptions dedication to artistic freedom and the freedom to take risks and fail. Is it just about being able to say cocksucker a lot on Deadwood or show a shitload of nudity on Oz? No, those are just examples of how that freedom can be expressed. It's the freedom itself that matters. Artists do their best work when they are free.

And the same is true for the New Liners. There is nothing off limits at New Line. The only consideration is whether or not it's good art and has something to say. Artists want to work in an atmosphere like that. The money becomes less important when there is real art going on, without fear, without commercialism, without censorship.

So just between you and me... do I wish I made more money? No, not really. I'm doing fine...

Long Live the Musical!