What’s Behind That Leonard Cohen Billboard On Times Square?

The Morale-Boosting Leonard Cohen Old Ideas Billboard

Leonard Cohen fans, especially those familiar with the lackluster promotions of his previous albums, were heartened when an impressively large and vivid billboard promoting his Old Ideas album appeared on 42nd street in Manhattan.

This extract from The Harlem River Dispatch – Leonard Cohen Makes “Old Ideas” New Again posted by Wesley at By Way Of Beauty gives elegant expression to the thoughts of many Cohen  admirers in response to the advertisement:

Last night on 42nd street in Manhattan, I saw a three-story-high billboard promoting Leonard Cohen’s latest album Old Times, which has been on prominent display beside the exterior of The Foxwoods theater. While most ad spaces in Times Square are reserved for wan and vapid looking models posing in their skivvies, this particular billboard features a 77 year-old beatnik sitting languorously in a lawn chair – surely a sharp contrast to what one usually sees or experiences while scurrying through the crossroads of the world.

Having been a fan of Mr. Cohen’s music for quite some time now, I was as puzzled as I was elated to see an ad for his album in that setting. He always seemed to me an artist you had to seek out in dusty vinyl collections – not one the industry would peddle alongside your Katy Perrys or Cee Lo Greens.

Now that I have finally listened to the album, I’m grateful that its marketing execs believed in Cohen’s material enough to advertise it the way they did, for Cohen’s music and the message it contains truly deserves the attention of our cock-eyed culture.

Or, as the less articulate of us might put it, “It’s about time.”

But, is it simply a case of the powers that be finally recognizing true genius and promoting it at “The Crossroads of the World?”

Behind The Scenes

Now, The New York Post has provided information about what is – literally and figuratively – behind that billboard.

Times Square Theatre 1920

As most New Yorkers already know, the physical space on the other side of the billboard is occupied by the Times Square Theatre (shown above), a building constructed in 1920 which has stood vacant for 20+ years.

So, how did that empty building become the easel for the bigger than life commercial portrait of Leonard Cohen?

Steve Cuozzo, writing in The Long-Dark Times Square Theater Is – Finally! – Getting A Multimillion-Dollar Makeover (New York Post, March 21, 2012), describes the purchase of the Times Square Theatre and the consequent plans for that space:

Climaxing a long effort to find the right user for the 1920s-vintage colonnaded venue, landlord New 42nd Street has signed a long-term lease with Broadway 4D Theatres. What the company calls Broadway Sensation — a 4D Musical Spectacular is expected to launch by late spring or early summer 2013. …

Broadway 4D is the brainchild of Beverly Hills entertainment lawyer Robert Kory, who also manages singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen. (A huge ad for Cohen’s latest album currently adorns the theater façade.) … [emphasis mine]

It thus appears that it wasn’t simply a matter of “marketing execs believ[ing] in Cohen’s material enough to advertise it the way they did.” I.e., it seems unlikely that the placement of the billboard was dictated purely by marketing considerations but also had to do with the serendipitous ownership of the Times Square Theatre by Robert Kory, who similarly and simultaneously serendipitously serves as Leonard Cohen’s business manager.

Ah, disillusionment can be a drag. It’s always discouraging to discover that your burning bush isn’t consumed by the flames because it’s actually a repurposed Yule Log video.

On the other hand, there is nothing scandalous or Machiavellian about  this story – and it is a heck of a billboard in a great location.  And, I’m still gratified that this image was the center of attention just as the Old Ideas album itself caught the attention of the public and hit the top of the charts.

If there is a moral for this tale, it’s something on the lines of

Paying attention to the man behind the curtain
(or billboard) is not a risk-free strategy

Bonus: Broadway 4D

The article also helpfully explains Broadway 4D:

Broadway 4D is described as “a 3D film enhanced show incorporating in-theater special effects” — such as the use of scents, climatic changes and extravagant sound. Songs from Broadway musicals by the likes of Rodgers and Hammerstein and Andrew Lloyd Weber will be performed by stars of Hollywood and the Great White Way. …

In an amazing coincidence, it turns out that I’m working on a screenplay for “a 3D film enhanced show incorporating in-theater special effects.” Robert, have your people call my people. We’ll do lunch.

Credit Due Department: Billboard photo taken and shared by Kezban Özcan.

Note: Originally posted Mar 23, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

More Exclusive Photos Of Leonard Cohen & Robert Kory In Paris Jan 16, 2012

db-lc-paris-window-scaled1000x

Leonard Cohen – The Paris Look


Because of the popularity of Leonard Cohen Photos – Hotel Crillon, Paris: Jan 16, 2012, Dominique BOILE sent another group of photos from the Old Ideas album press conference / promotion / listening party held in Paris January 16, 2012, including this great shot of Leonard Cohen resplendent in his dark suit amidst the glamor of Hotel Crillon.

More photos from this event can be found at

lc-red-pen-scaled100x0

Leonard realizes he packed a red marker instead of his Famous Blue Sharpie

db-lc-door-scaled1000

Leonard Cohen in Napoleonic pose, befitting the location

db-lc-ed-2-scaled1000

Robert Kory

db-rk-2-scaled1000

“Unmatched in his creativity, insight & crippling candour, Leonard Cohen was a true visionary whose voice will be sorely missed.” Robert Kory

withkory5

Leonard Cohen & Robert Kory – Las Vegas 2010

quoteup2
Unmatched in his creativity, insight and crippling candour, Leonard Cohen was a true visionary whose voice will be sorely missed. I was blessed to call him a friend, and for me to serve that bold artistic spirit firsthand was a privilege and great gift. He leaves behind a legacy of work that will bring insight, inspiration and healing for generations to come.quotedown2

Robert Kory

 

Stars and world leaders pay tribute to Leonard Cohen by Hannah Ellis-Petersen (Guardian: Nov 11, 2016)

Robert Kory has been Leonard Cohen’s manager, lawyer, and friend for the past decade.

Credit Due Department: Photo by Gwen Langford. Thanks to Harold Lepidus, who alerted me to the article with the Kory quote.

Photos: Leonard Cohen & Band, Marquee, Robert Kory, & Roscoe Beck – 2012 Paris Concert

Dominique BOILE took this set of photos, including shots of my all time favorite Signs Of Leonard Cohen specimen – the Olympia Theatre marquee – while in Paris to attend the Sept 29, 2012 Leonard Cohen Concert.

Note: Originally posted Sept 30, 2012 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Gwen Goes To Ghent, Gets Her Leonard Cohen Groove Back – 2012

mandt_gwen-scaled1000

Co-starring Mandy MacLeod, Adam Cohen, Sharon Robinson, Charley & Hattie Webb, Robert Kory, Neil Larsen, Javier Mas, Mitch Watkins, Rafael Goyol, Chris Bynum, Joey Carenza …

Note: Originally posted Sept 3, 2012 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Once upon a time, in a land far away ….

No, that isn’t quite the right tone for this screenplay. The story of how Gwen Langford took Belgium, summarized from her own report, is less a fairy tale than the account of a crusade, a mission inspired by passion and carried out with unrelenting energy.

The story begins with the discovery by the two stalwarts pictured above, Gwen Langford and Mandy MacLeod, that the 2012 Leonard Cohen Old Ideas World Tour would begin in Ghent, which is no more than, oh, 700 miles or so from Gwen’s home base in Ireland. (The distance is actually an anticlimactic element of the plot; the last trip Gwen & Mandy took to a Cohen concert was a flight to Las Vegas – the one in Nevada.)

And thus it came to pass that our intrepid pilgrim-warriors entered the walled city of Ghent with no more than the token resistance offered by airline and hotel bureaucracies, high prices, limited resources, and the heat.

The initial contact with Cohen forces took place at the first night’s fan meet-up at a bar close to the concert. Gwen & Mandy scored their first victories, bagging the spoils: photos and autographs from the Webb Sisters and Sharon Robinson.

Next, their intelligence networks having yielded the name of the hotel where the band and crew were in residence, Gwen and Mandy bivouacked there, living off the land. Subsisting largely on liberated rations of Kriek beer and enduring the rigors of institutional air conditioning, they identified, encountered, and successfully engaged with management staff as well as band and crew members, including (from left to right in the series of images below) Robert Kory, Neil Larsen, Javier Mas, Roscoe Beck, and Mitch Watkins.

Soon, however, it was necessary to journey to another fortress – Adam Cohen’s concert in Brussels. Here too, Gwen proved triumphant, Adam negotiating peace terms with hugs, kisses on the cheek as per diplomatic protocol, and photos. He finalized the treaty by signing a photo of himself and his father.

gwen-adam-scaled1000

Of course, these were only preliminary skirmishes enroute to the main objective – Field Commander Cohen himself. Upon contact, Cohen’s recognition of Gwen was immediate with hugs, autographs, and photos ensuing.

lc-gwen-scaled1000
Displayed below are the emblems of victory.

 


Epilogue: Gwen & Mandy have since returned to their headquarters – but not just to live happily ever after. Instead, they are, of course, recouping in preparation for their next Cohen campaign.

Credit Due Department: The photo atop this post is by Joey Carenza. Photos of Gwen and the various members of Leonard Cohen’s troupe are by Mandy MacLeod. The photo of Leonard Cohen and the rose is by Gwen Langford.

Exclusive Photos: Leonard Cohen, Dominique Issermann, & Robert Kory – Paris January 16, 2012

Dominique Issermann

db-dominique-issermann-900-scaled1000While Leonard Cohen rarely takes third place in a DrHGuy post, when I received these photos Dominique BOILE forwarded from the Jan 16, 2012 Paris event1 promoting Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas album (please do not reproduce photos without permission of photographer), I was most taken with the striking, rarely captured shot of Dominique Issermann seen atop this post.

This brief biography is from Ykone:

… Dominique Isserman made her photography debut at 26. She began working with Zoom magazine doing celebrity profiling. Known for the delicacy of her portraits, the young artist slowly became a prominent figure on the style scene … Among others, Chanel, Christian Dior, Lancôme and Yves Saint Laurent were all impressed with Dominique’s work and signed her to shoot their campaigns. In 1987, Dominique was awarded the equivalent of an Oscar in fashion photography. Afterwards, she went on to work with countless fashion magazines, including Vogue, US Cosmopolitan and New York Magazine.

Leonard Cohen fans may know that he and Dominique were romantically involved in the 1980s and that she has continue to photograph him.

Robert Kory

db-rk-ed-900-scaled1000And, this photo of Leonard Cohen’s business manager, Robert Kory, equipped with cigar and drink and posed against the night sky of Paris, presents an image that is somehow precisely right.

Leonard Cohen

db-lc-ed-900-scaled1000More photos from this event can be found at

_______________________________

  1. This is a re-posting of a Jan 17, 2012 entry from the DrHGuy.com site []