The reviews of the opening of David Mamet‘s American Buffalo at the Belasco have been unenthusiastic. The critics almost unanimously describe poorly cast stars—John Leguizamo, Cedric the Entertainer, and Haley Joel Osment—going through the motions with wooden dialogue. (“Ssssssssst. That whooshing noise coming from the Belasco Theater is the sound of the air being let out of David Mamet’s dialogue,” wrote Ben Brantlee in The New York Times.)
But signs that the play might lay an egg were already in evidence last Friday afternoon at Café Une Deux Trois, where a press lunch with the cast had been scheduled. Instead of excited actors ready to begin the new Broadway run of a perfectly timed critique of inflated valuation, a near empty restaurant, and a sheepish hostess greeted the Daily Transom. “Yes, they were supposed to be here, but the event was cancelled,” the hostess said with a shrug. “The actors are tired.”
An invitation to the premiere’s after party in Chelsea on Monday night met with similar frustration. After the Daily Transom responded positively to a publicist’s request for coverage, we were met with the following reply via email: “I’m so sorry, but I was just informed that this party is closed to the press.”
The reason for the change of plans, this time, revealed a production in disarray. “Well, it was a smaller party than we expected,” the publicist said. After being pressed for what exactly that meant, she passed us on to another publicist, “who is in charge of events.” That publicist said, “I’ll let Richard Kornberg know about your inquiry. He represents the entire show. We only represent one of the producers, Stuart Lane.”
Mr. Kornberg was not thrilled to hear from us; “I don’t even know what you’re talking about,” he huffed when we got him on the phone. After a review of the situation he admitted that one of the events had been canceled. But where, he asked, did the Daily Transom get the idea that the after-party was closed to the press? After being told about the email he barked, “I’ve got five people holding, let me call you back.”
A few minutes later, he did.
“This is fucking moronic on their part! They don’t have the right to ban anyone. I would have invited you. It wasn’t closed because Michael Musto was there,” Mr. Kornberg said, referring to the Village Voice gossip columnist. “Would you please forward me that email right away, so I can show it to a producer that is holding on the other line. I can’t wait to show these people!”
The luncheon was an entirely different story, Mr. Kornberg said. Making it clear that it wasn’t his idea, Mr. Kornberg explained, “The producers weren’t nervous. It was a bad idea in the first place to schedule the lunch.” Calming down a bit, he added, “The director wanted the three stars to be able to save their voice, so it was just postponed.”