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

I Can’t Forget – The Exclusive 1st Look: March 2012 Leonard Cohen MOJO Cover

Introduction: I Can’t Forget

Because many folks have become Leonard Cohen fans since Leonard’s final concert – Auckland, December 21, 2013, I’m publishing key 1HeckOfAGuy.com and DrHGuy.com posts that originally came online during the 2008-2013 Tours to provide a sense of how it felt to be part of the World Of Cohen.during those halcyon days – and give those who were already Cohenites then the opportunity to relive the Golden Age Of Leonard. All such entries can be found at ,

Today’s I Can’t Forget Offering: When this image was originally posted Jan 27, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric, it was the first worldwide public display of the March 2012 MOJO, which featured Leonard Cohen on the cover and included a extensive section on the Canadian singer-songwriter.

March 2012 MOJO Spotlights Leonard Cohen

A young Leonard Cohen, sporting a black mock turtleneck emblematic of the 1960s coffeehouse poet/folk singer and equipped with occupationally congruent beads, cigarette, and notebook (hidden by the CD in the above image) emits some serious existential angst from the cover of the March 2012 issue of MOJO magazine, which goes on sale January 31, 2012 – but is on display now at the Heck Of A Guy site. 1

Inside, a one on one interview of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons, whose biography, “I’m Your Man – The Life of Leonard Cohen,” is expected  to be published October 2012,2 is the centerpiece of a 14 page feature on the Canadian singer-songwriter, poet, novelist, and icon.

While the timing of  the article is a function of the release of Cohen’s new album, Old Ideas, the content ranges from Cohen’s early life to his connection with Zen teacher, Roshi (whose 105th birthday is just over a month away), to the 2008-2010 Leonard Cohen World Tour, to the Old Ideas album and beyond.

A separate two page section focuses on Songs Of Leonard Cohen, Cohen’s 1967 debut album.

A tribute CD  filled with covers of the tracks from the Songs of Leonard Cohen performed by Palace Songs, Low Anthem, Liz Green, Cass McCombs, and others completes the package.

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  1. For those who are perplexed about how the Heck Of A Guy site came to host the first exhibition of the masterpiece that is the MOJO cover, here’s the story: Imagine the potential contribution that might be made to such a Leonard Cohen feature by, say, an unpaid intern assigned to the Assistant To The Assistant To The Assistant To The Art Director. Well, I would be the guy reporting to the unpaid intern. OK, I suspect MOJO doesn’t waste money funding salaries for “Assistant To” positions and I have no idea if the company uses interns, but you get the idea. After those services were rendered, it was simply a matter of whinging and begging until MOJO agreed to allow Heck Of A Guy to play Paul Revere to this especially insidious British invasion of the colonies. []
  2. The publishers of the Simmons biography are Jonathan Cape in the UK, Ecco in the US, and McClelland & Stewart in Canada. Several foreign language editions are due for publication at the same time. []

Listen To Complete Jan 2012 Jarvis Cocker – Leonard Cohen Interview

Cocker-Cohen Conversation Now Online

The enlightening and entertaining January 18, 2012 interview of Leonard Cohen by Jarvis Cocker was a highlight of the coming-out publicity party for the Old Ideas album. Unfortunately, only isolated clips from that session have remained available online.  Now, however, reader Jo Meul has spotted a Soundcloud recording of the January 29, 2012 edition of Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service, “Sincerely, L. Cohen,” which features Cocker’s January 18, 2012 interview of Cohen, selected Cohen songs, and commentary.

Anyone with an interest in Leonard Cohen who missed this when it was broadcast should take advantage of this second chance to be delighted. Those who have heard the interview before will find it as fascinating – and fun – now as it was then.

Preview: During the interview, Leonard Cohen calculates that the ideas in Old Ideas are 614 years old – except those which are older, advances his claim that giving up smoking has lowered his voice, explains his feeling that he has been “scraping the bottom of the barrel just trying to get the song together,” laments the loss of many of his notebooks and the masterpieces they contained,  and looks forward to meeting Chuck Berry, with whom he shared the PEN New England’s prize for Lyrics Of Literary Excellence.

Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service
Jan 29, 2012

Credit Due Department: Photo by Mariel Argüello – http://www.flickr.com/photos/monophonicgirl/6984741610, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Common. Originally posted Jun 23, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen – There Once Was An App For That: Review Of The 2012 Leonard Cohen iPhone App

appfavce

While this app is no longer available, Cohencentric is reposting the Aug 24, 2012 1HeckOfAGuy.com review so that old fans can relive those heady days and newer fans can have a taste of the way it used to be.

Leonard Cohen – There’s An App For That

The Leonard Cohen iPhone app by DKB Productions was released Aug 23, 2012 and is available for installation1 at the App Store. My report on the app’s features based on my test drive of it follows.

Leonard Cohen’s Golden Voice

Opening the app triggers a quote recited by Leonard. The presumptive favorite is the Canadian singer-songwriter murmuring “Hello, Darling.” Other offerings derive from his lyrics, poetry, and interviews, including The Sweetest Little Song from Book of Longing:

You go your way
I’ll go your way too.

 News

The News page appears to be linked to the news page of the official Leonard Cohen site and, is, as can be seen above, fairly limited.

Tour –  And Hidden Bonus

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  1. Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS []