Refunds Offered After Steve Martin Event 'Didn't Gel'
By Catherine Donaldson-Evans Posted Dec 2nd 2010 09:52AM
Hollywood types don't care about art, do they? And if they do, they certainly shouldn't talk about it in public. Because we don't care that stars care about art. Especially if we're patrons -- or employees -- of New York City's 92nd Street Y and the star in question is Steve Martin.
This week at the Y, Martin dared to discuss boring things like artists and paintings with a New York Times Magazine writer who has an interest in such subjects, Deborah Solomon. Both found themselves chastised by the venue's staff, who halfway through their interview asked them to talk less about art (i.e. the subject of Martin's new novel 'An Object of Beauty') and more about his career (i.e. what it's like to host the Oscars with Alec Baldwin). Team Y said they were already getting complaints. The next day, they apologized to those in attendance with a note and a refund.
"We acknowledge that last night's event with Steve Martin did not meet the standard of excellence that you have come to expect from 92nd St. Y," the Y's executive director Sol Adler wrote in an email to ticket holders that was obtained by the Times. "We planned for a more comprehensive discussion and we, too, were disappointed with the evening. We will be mailing you a $50 certificate for each ticket you purchased to last night's event. The gift certificate can be used toward future 92Y events, pending availability."
Multiply $50 by the 900 tickets sold and you have ... a lot of money, lost. (That's $45,000 if everyone cashes in, as unlikely as that is.) You also have Martin and Solomon embarrassed and on the defensive.
"So the 92nd St. Y has determined that the course of its interviews should be dictated in real time by its audience's emails," the actor wrote on Twitter. "Artists beware."
It makes you wonder, was Monday night's one-hour event really that much of a snooze? From the sound of it, it may have been. Surely, it's all fine and good to talk about the art world and his book about the art world, but come on. Throw an audience a bone. Indulge their curiosity about making movies and TV shows and being one of the top comedic actors in Hollywood and, yes, emceeing the Academy Awards with Baldwin.
Still, did Martin and Solomon deserve such ridicule? Martin thinks otherwise. He said viewers who were able to watch the event on closed-circuit TV had complained to the Y and the Y gave in to the pressure.
"The evening was not going the way they wished, meaning we were discussing art," he told the Times, comparing the experience to "an actor responding in Act III to an audience's texts to 'shorten the soliloquies.'"
But the Y stands by its handling of the situation, saying refunds are occasionally offered when events don't meet their expectations.
"The evening with Martin and Solomon just didn't gel," said the facility's PR director Beverly Greenfield in an email to the paper. "We heard from our audience members, who were vocal about their admiration for Steve Martin and their displeasure with the program, at the event, and afterward by email and by phone."
It wasn't the best sign that the audience cheered when Solomon read aloud the note from staff telling them to change the subject. But, she says, the two complied immediately.
"I was joking. I said, 'Steve, we blew it,'" Solomon told the Times, adding that Martin then went on to answer several questions about his acting career.
"Frankly, you would think that an audience in New York ... would be interested in hearing about art and artists," she said. "I had no idea that the Y programmers wanted me to talk to Steve instead on what it's like to host the Oscars or appear in 'It's Complicated' with Alec Baldwin. I think the Y, which is supposedly a champion of the arts, has behaved very crassly."
Martin was thrown off by the venue's "discourteous" reaction to his art talk and said he and Solomon should have been consulted before any action was taken.
But he still has a sense of humor about the situation.
"As for the Y's standard of excellence, it can't be that high," he said, "because this is the second time I've appeared there."
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