Once Atlanta Landmarks took possession of the Fox Theatre in June, 1975, their top priority was finding someone to run the house, because none of them knew anything about running a theatre, including Joe Patten. Seeking help, they soon settled on Theatre Now ("TN") of New York City. TN was a top B'way general management firm headed by Billy Cohen, and to manage the Fox, they proposed to charge $3500 a month for a one year term. TN also required that the Fox hire and pay the salaries of an acceptable General Manager and Technical Director (Joe Patten), total not to exceed $35,000 a year. A letter below from TN describes this deal in first draft form. TN then sent the Fox a list of repairs and modifications they wanted made to the theatre before their stewardship began. That list is shown below. Some were obvious (fix the roof, build a box office), but others became points of major contention.
TN's technical man was Norman Rothstein, a powerful B'way figure, who happened to have worked with Ted Stevens years before and who knew that Ted was in Atlanta. Ted was duly hired as GM, ecstatic to get the job, as he was working in a gift shop, having walked out on Chris Manos a while back. Incredibly, Rothstein wanted the pipe battens on the stage cut back from their [proper] seventy-foot width to forty feet, so to emulate a typical (and much smaller) B'way stage. Beside that, he wanted the orchestra pit wall demolished and that elevator pinned at auditorium level to allow for more seating. He also wanted the stage lifts pinned and covered, and he wanted all the borderlights and footlights demolished. He stopped short of destroying the organ. Charles Walker and I were flabbergasted! These people were not "B'way rejects" (as Charles termed them) but rather ACTUAL B'way wisdom directing us to desecrate our wonderful stage and all the equipment that made it wonderful! Charles Walker, head of the local lighting rental outfit, was our top volunteer at that time, and he could fix anything.
Chuck put together an ad hoc committee of the top Atlanta theatre tech professionals: Pocket Theatre head Dick Munro; top notch set designer Luis Maza; Chris Manos' tech wizard Chuck Fischl and top Atlanta audio man Walt Winn, both IATSE; Alliance Theatre set designer Lewis Greenleaf; and the queen of Industrials, Cassandra Henning (recording secretary). Their only meeting was held in August (the minutes below) with Joe Patten, Eric Magneson, and myself in attendance. In gracious terms (the next day presented to Joe in letter form) they nixed almost all of Norman's "improvements." Three weeks later, the cutting of the pipes was listed in a request (below) for a startup loan of $100,000 from the Atlanta banks, who held the $2 million mortgage. All this became moot when the banks allowed only a paltry $30,000. With this, per Rothstein's directive, we installed box boom positions; all new circuits from FOH to a transfer panel; and a 400A company switch. What we lacked money for was the lighting instruments themselves, and Charles bid on that (below). Unfortunately, there was never any money to purchase the lights, and this opened the door for newly-appointed Fox head IA carp Jimmy Spradlin "to lend" his stock of lekos to the Fox, charging each attraction for their use. This was a bad deal, because it opened the door for further unethical practices which still exist. TN's contract with the Fox was not renewed after the first year, their services no longer required. It was Ted and rock shows that led the Fox to being saved! As the first Production Manager at age 23, I was not one to burn my bridges. When I moved to NYC, it was the recommendation of Norman Rothstein that got me the job with Tommy Brent in Rhode Island.
The lighting bid above was typed by Garry Motter, and he also lettered the envelope. August, 2017.
Breck Camp is an organ enthusiast and was one of the ATOS volunteers who assessed the condition of the Fox organ in 1963. He is a also a highly regarded locksmith and at Joe Patten's request, in 1975 he installed a top-of-the line Best master-keying system at the Fox free of charge, donating the all new locks and keys and his labor. He continued to administer the system over the next twenty-five years until he ran afoul of Manager Neiss and his assistant Wendy Riggs. The following correspondence tells the tale.