Gov. Chris Christie has a pair of divergent but golden opportunities to put up or shut up if he’s really serious about using state resources and expertise to pull Atlantic City’s struggling casino industry out of the double-whammy crisis caused by competition and a global recession.
The first begins in just over two weeks, when HBO rolls out the first episode of Boardwalk Empire, director Martin Scorsese’s 12-part series loosely adapted from local author Nelson Johnson’s compelling look at more than a century of political corruption in the resort.
The second is an unprecedented, three-night, Halloween weekend stand at Boardwalk Hall by Phish, the world’s greatest jam band, which is expected to draw close to 40,000 people to the shows.
With the debut of the TV series a little more than two weeks out, it’s probably too late for the state to offer any meaningful help so Atlantic City can mount a national or even regional marketing campaign to tap into the worldwide buzz that’s sure to be generated by the show. The series stars Steve Buscemi as the fictional “Nucky Thompson,” the political boss who operated on the fringes of organized crime and whom Emmy-winning screenwriter and former Sopranos producer Terence Winter patterned after the real-life, early 20th century Boardwalk boss named Enoch “Nucky” Johnson.
But one casino company is partnering with HBO in a marketing deal based around Boardwalk Empire. Although Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc. isn’t revealing its hand, the New York Times reported last month that the world’s largest gaming company is a key player in a $10 million promotional campaign that also includes Bloomingdale’s and Canadian Club Whisky.
Among the events planned in celebration of the show, Caesars Atlantic City, one of Harrah’s four Atlantic City casinos, will host an invitation-only party several days before the premiere that’s expected to include series’ cast members. [Editor’s note: Caesars will also hold a free and open-to-the-public event presented by the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority and Atlantic City Weekly on Sunday, Sept. 19, starting at 7pm. To find out more about the “Atlantic City: Conversations and Storytelling, Plus Viewing Party” event, which will include a free viewing of the show premiere, click here.]
But imagine how much more excitement could have been generated if Atlantic City had the financial resources to really promote the show all summer long with television spots, billboards, banner planes, full-page ads, contests and more? An extended and extensive marketing campaign could have enticed visitors to return to Atlantic City during the run of the series to participate in promotions or attend viewing parties.
Although a dozen episodes of Boardwalk Empire are already in the can, that doesn’t necessarily mean the series ends after the first run of shows. The Sopranos initially consisted of 13 episodes in a single season; it eventually ran for six seasons and 86 episodes and became the most financially successful series in the history of cable TV.
Boardwalk Empire is a perfect opportunity for the state to show how serious it is about helping Atlantic City. I’m betting that there’ll be more than one season for this series, so it would be in everyone’s best interests for the state to find the money needed to keep the buzz alive well after the first show airs.
Yes, New Jersey is in the financial dumper right now. But surely there’s some money somewhere — maybe earmarked for political pork projects in the northern part of the state? — that can be diverted to Atlantic City, just as tens of millions of CRDA tax dollars have been funneled to the 201, 973 and 908 area codes over the past 32 years.
Meanwhile, the Phish concerts, which were announced last week, just might be Atlantic City’s coolest concerts of the year and will put Boardwalk Hall on the radar of millions of Phisheads.
Phish, which began life 27 years ago as a Grateful Dead cover band, is one of those rare bands that has become a musical icon while receiving little or no radio airplay or support. Their strength is in their live shows, and their popularity spread through fans sharing their amateur recordings of concerts, which is sanctioned by the band.
Phish is the snowflake of popular music; no two shows are ever alike, and some of their jam songs can last 30 minutes or more.
Phish has such a loyal legion of fans — many of whom follow the band from city to city — that Atlantic City needs to quickly find a way to market these three shows to the masses and build some special events and promotions around the event.
The goal here isn’t to sell tickets to Boardwalk Hall. These shows will quickly sell out the moment tickets are released for public sale on Sept. 11, especially since the final show of the gig will be on Halloween, which, as all Phish fans know, is a sacred night for the band and its fans.
With two months of lead time, putting together some citywide events is very do-able, provided there’s money available.
I have no idea if Gov. Christie is a Phish fan. But even if he’s not, it’s time for him to go trolling for some money so that the world knows that Phish, which could have played its Halloween shows anywhere, decided to take Atlantic City’s bait.
“The unpredictable is part of the appeal of this band. That makes it fun for the fans and those who are in the band. We do things a little differently than other bands.”
The New York Times, CNN and other major news sources are reporting Tuesday morning, Oct. 4, that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) will not seek the Republican nomination for the 2012 U.S, Presidential election.
Ever since Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford stated in early January that his office was working on a deal with a "big-time" national promoter to bring a three-day music festival to Atlantic City this June, the Web has been bubbling with rumors about the possibilities. Will Phish return? Could the Dave Matthews Band make its Atlantic City debut? How about Robert Plant and his Band of Joy? Will it be along the lines of an Atlantic City version of Memphis' Bonaroo or Chicago's Lollapalooza, where there are multiple bands, stages and performance areas, and fans camping out? Web sites and blogs such as Hidden Track, Jambands.com and the Dave Matthews fan site, DMBNews.net, have been following the story closely as their users are very interested in any jam-band festival news that is revealed throughout the year, throughout the country. Many fans of certain jam-bands — a moniker that has become popular since the death of Jerry Garcia and the end of the orginal Grateful Dead more than 15 years ago — such as Phish heads, follow the bands across the country and see every show they can get into. This would mean that Bader Field, the intended site of the three-day music festival, could...
There could be a link with the success of that Phish residency in Atlantic City — where the band's Trey Anastasio recorded a live album a few years back at the House of Blues at Showboat — and the three-day music festival that is expected to take place in June 2011 at Bader Field in Atlantic City.
When the band Phish first started its rise to fame, its cross-genre blend of styles and its sort of lack of widespread, mainstream appeal eventually earned it the de facto title of America’s premier jam band — a title that for years belonged to the Grateful Dead.
Dozens of Atlantic City area restaurants are going back to the Roaring '20s, offering vintage fun and deals, including a $19.20 menu special, in connection to the weeks and days leading up to the debut of 'Boardwalk Empire'.
The free and open-to-the-public AC Weekly partnered event, "Conversations & Storytelling - Plus Viewing Party," will feature a riveting panel discussion and Q&A segment with local historians and Atlantic City experts including Vicki Gold Levi, Allen "Boo" Pergament," Ralph Hunter, Pinky Kravitz, Israel Posner and James Waltzer on Sunday, Sept. 19, with doors opening at 6:30pm.
HBO has uploaded the approximately 14-minute behind-the-scenes documentary "The Making of Boardwalk Empire," which premiered...
An author who goes solely by the name of Zane is a pioneer of contemporary fiction — period. She just happens to be black and female. Writer and creator of The Sex Chronicles, Zane has been opening doors for new young writers for more than 10 years. Her impact has been felt across genres, color lines and genders. Currently she’s enjoyed being the mind behind two hot seasons of the soft-core adult series hit The Sex Chronicles on Cinemax. Where the HBO series from a while back, Tell Me You Love Me, never clearly stated just how hot or sexy it wanted to be,...
Enoch "Nucky" Johnson, treasurer of Atlantic County, ruled the rackets and the Republican Party in Atlantic City. Former cabbie Louie Kessel ordered his master's life. Home base was the posh Ritz Carlton Hotel at Iowa Avenue and the Boardwalk. It was the Roaring 20s and life was good.
Acclaimed jam band Phish has played 10 Halloween shows over the course of its career, which are known in the Phish camp as “Musical Costume” concerts, during its well-chronicled history.
No. 7. The Pier Shops at Caesars: Trip out to the free hourly water show with its 150 individually controlled fountain nozzles, a 19,000 gallon reflecting pool, 179 LED and intelligent lighting fixtures, and "state-of-the-art" audio technology.
"I get offended when the governor and others advocate that we need an increased police presence on the Boardwalk to create the ‘perception’ that the city is safe, because the reality is that the Boardwalk is safe. But even to address just the ‘perception’ [of the city’s tourists] they advocate more resources. What about the neighborhoods?"
"[B]ills and legislation affecting Atlantic City and the creation of a 'Tourism District' have been fast tracked, and despite promises and assurances to the contrary...."
The mayor spoke about several city-created objectives, which could dovetail with the state plan for the city, as long as the two entities work with each other and communicate better moving forward.
Gov. Chris Christie Wednesday signed legislation to allow for two “Boutique” casinos to be built in Atlantic City. The legislation allows for two casino projects to be built with a minimum of 200 hotel rooms, lower than the 500 now required. Christie says he signed the bill as part of ongoing efforts to spur Atlantic City’s economy and create jobs. “This bill will provide a boost to the engines of Atlantic City and the regional economy, bringing badly needed jobs to the area and signaling the re-emergence of world-class entertainment,” said Christie is a press release. “While this is an important step in meeting our commitment to revitalize Atlantic City as a premier destination resort, we have more work to do in laying the foundation for growth in this critical area of our economy.” Several other measures to help the city are scheduled to be voted on by the state Assembly in coming days including the creation of a state-run tourism district in the city (to be run by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority), allowing online gaming, limited to state residents, and streamlining casino regulations and oversight. The bill allowing for smaller casinos, S-1866, “revises State law to authorize the Casino Control Commission to issue...
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