LSU theatre director 'surprised and disappointed' by low ticket sales for King-Edwards interview
A live interview at LSU of Edwin Edwards by retired CNN talk show host Larry King might have seemed like a no-brainer to draw a standing-room-only crowd. But the on-stage pairing of the legendary talk show host and famed former governor at the LSU Union Theater on Sept. 8 proved to be a bust, when more than 50% of the 1,256 seats in the theater went unfilled. As a result, the Union Theater, which organized and sponsored the event, lost more than $45,000—the difference between the $26,637 it managed to generate from ticket sales and the $72,000 it paid for the two speakers (King earned a handsome $66,400 plus two $300 nights in a local hotel; Edwards' fee fetched him some $6,000). "We were surprised and disappointed," says Michael Derr, director of the LSU Student Union Theater. "But there is so much more going on in Baton Rouge than there used to be. We have more competition and people have less money to spend on events like this." Tickets for the event, which took place on a Sunday, were priced at $60. Derr says speakers are selected by a committee and that the King-Edwards matchup was expected to draw a bigger crowd. The fact it did not does not necessarily suggest a decline in the popularity of the octogenarian speakers, nor is it a reflection of poor marketing on the part of the Union Theater, Derr says. "We do more marketing than the Union ever used to do and the audience was still a good size compared to some of the other performances we have," he says. Performances at the Union Theater are funded through self-generated funds and student fees. Derr says ticket sales frequently fall short of covering the cost of speakers, and that revenues generated from other operations at the Union make up the difference. —Stephanie Riegel
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