Ben Sprecher, who spent six years in court trying to restore his reputation following the pre-opening collapse of Rebecca the Musical, was accused in a Federal complaint of possessing and distributing child pornography.Continue Reading
EXCLUSIVE: Broadway’s oddest and most enduring financing-scandal-turned-courtroom-drama has closed.
After six years, 471 legal filings, one trial and another that had been on tap, Rebecca producer Ben Sprecher has ended his effort to hold his former press agent accountable for the collapse of his musical. Last month, Sprecher settled his personal lawsuit against publicist Marc Thibodeau, obviating a second trial concerning the aborted Broadway show.Continue Reading
EXCLUSIVE: Ben Sprecher‘s six-year campaign to hold his former press agent accountable for the collapse of his musical and reputation has been cleared for another courtroom showdown.
Earlier this month, an appellate court declined to intervene in the producer’s lawsuit against publicist Marc Thibodeau, opening the door for a second trial relating to the aborted musical Rebecca. At issue are emails that the press agent sent to a prospective backer in September 2012, linking Sprecher to a fraud.
Sprecher is “radioactive in the theater community and unable to find work,” the producer’s lead lawyer, Erik Groothuis of Schlam Stone & Dolan, wrote in an October 2018 brief in New York Supreme Court. Thibodeau “torpedoed both the musical, and my career with it,” Sprecher said in a 2017 sworn statement.Continue Reading
EXCLUSIVE: The producers of Rebecca aren’t giving up on their four-and-a-half-year campaign to force their former press agent to pay for the musical’s collapse.
Rebecca Broadway Limited Partnership, led by Ben Sprecher and Louise Forlenza, requested a New York judge throw out last month’s $85,000 jury award for wrongful interference against publicist Marc Thibodeau. Sprecher and Forlenza originally sought at least $10.6 million. Their lawyer, Erik Groothuis, said in a court filing that the jury picked $85,000 “from thin air.”
UPDATED THROUGHOUT: In a court battle over money and reputations, the partnership that sought to bring Rebecca the Musical to Broadway won a token $90,000 damage award against its former press agent — less than 1 percent of what producers were seeking.
Publicist Marc Thibodeau hugged his lawyers and cried after the jury verdict. Five women and one man decided that Thibodeau wrongfully interfered with a contract but didn’t defame Rebecca Broadway LP when he sent rogue emails under the pseudonyms Sarah Finkelstein and Bethany Walsh. The emails warned a prospective investor that Rebecca‘s commercial potential was questionable and there was fraud in its midst .
Rebecca Broadway LP vs. Marc Thibodeau went to the jury Tuesday afternoon after two weeks of testimony. The five women and one man had a range of information requests out of the gate in order to decide the civil suit, which was filed in 2013 after Rebecca the Musical collapsed amid a cash shortfall.
At 2:30 pm, Marc Thibodeau was a courageous truth teller. By 4 pm he was a destructive liar.
Closing statements at the Rebecca civil trial this afternoon painted opposing pictures of its former press agent and the musical he represented — and according to its producers, sabotaged.
EXCLUSIVE: The email was sent at 8:21 am Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012. Subject line: “Confidential.”
“Have you ever Googled Mark Hotton Long Island?” wrote Marc Thibodeau, press agent for Rebecca the Musical, to lead producer Ben Sprecher about the West Islip, Long Island, stock broker Sprecher hired to raise money. Thibodeau wrote that he discovered “several instances of lawsuits against him for fraud.”
The publicist added that the broker hadn’t produced evidence that an investor named Paul Abrams who purportedly died of malaria — one of four mysterious overseas angels Hotton recruited — ever existed.
EXCLUSIVE: On Sept. 27, 2012, four days before Rebecca the Musical was to begin rehearsals, it sold 27 tickets.
The day’s “wrap,” or sales, was $2,952.50, according to an internal production document introduced this week in the Rebecca civil trial.
Its advance sale was $1.035 million, the document said. “That would be a weak advance,” testified Aaron Lustbader, a partner at Foresight Theatrical, the general manager of such shows as Phantom of the Opera. Lustbader wasn’t involved in Rebecca, which was postponed for the third and final time a day before rehearsals were to start. Big musicals typically wrap $50,000 each day before previews, he testified yesterday.
Producer Ben Sprecher broke down on the stand today at the Rebecca civil trial in lower Manhattan, while recounting being forced to shutter the $12 million musical on the eve of its first rehearsal.
“The whole thing was a tragedy,” Sprecher testified, speaking with apparent difficulty. “I don’t know what to say.”