Robert Kory, Trustee Of Leonard Cohen Family Trust, Talks About His Mandate To Expand Appreciation Of Cohen’s Work

Robert Kory spoke at the Max and Iris Stern International Symposium, which was part of the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal (MAC) Leonard Cohen exhibition, about his task navigating the legalities of protecting intellectual property, and also making “esthetic” judgments about the use of Leonard Cohen’s work. The following excerpt addresses the titular issue, “Why was Assassin’s Creed given rights to a Leonard Cohen song and not the Montreal Symphony Orchestra?” but the entire article is  a worthwhile read.

Kory said he approved the use of You Want it Darker in the next instalment of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, despite the action video game and film series’ violence, because it will bring Cohen’s music to a new audience. This is the song on which the Congregation Shaar Hashomayim choir and Cantor Gideon Zelermyer sing backup vocals, lending an authentic sound to its Jewish liturgical inspiration. Kory, who was Cohen’s manager from 2008 and sole trustee since 2016, explained that the producers of Assassin’s Creed, the French company Ubisoft, kept the song as it was. The game’s storyline of a battle against evil reflects Cohen’s general worldview and Kory believes he would appreciate this “honest representation of his work.”

He expects that the video featuring the song, which is part of the game, will get “tens of millions of viewers, young men aged 18 to 25, (even) in Bulgaria, who will say, ‘this is a cool dude, a badass guy,’ ” and maybe listen to another song on the album.

Ubisoft also was very “gracious, meeting the highest possible standards” and consulting with the trust “every step of the way,” he said. Kory rejected a request from the MSO to perform the song at a concert in celebration of Montreal’s 375th anniversary last year because it wanted to do it in “a lighter arrangement.” Kory also did not like the MSO’s non-collaborative approach. “In contrast (to Ubisoft), the MSO just wanted to ‘do it our way, because we are the MSO,’ ” he said.

Why was Assassin’s Creed given rights to a Leonard Cohen song and not the Montreal Symphony Orchestra? by Janice Arnold (Canadian Jewish News: April 10, 2018). Photo by Dominique BOILE.

“He kept saying, ‘Maybe we can do just a couple more concerts.’ There was never a sense of ‘I finally triumphed,’ just a sense of gratitude. Leonard genuinely felt privileged to have the opportunity to share his music every night.” Robert Kory On Leonard Cohen During His Final Decline

His final performance was in Auckland, New Zealand, on Dec. 21, 2013. He wrapped things up with a cover of the Drifters classic “Save the Last Dance for Me.” But according to Kory, even in his final decline, Cohen would talk about wanting to get back onstage. “He kept saying, ‘Maybe we can do just a couple more concerts.’ There was never a sense of ‘I finally triumphed,’ just a sense of gratitude. Leonard genuinely felt privileged to have the opportunity to share his music every night.”

Alan Light

From Remembering Leonard Cohen: Close Friends, Collaborators & Critics on How He Changed Music Forever by Sasha Frere-Jones (Billboard: November 17, 2016).

DrHGuy Note: Alan Light is the author of The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah”

Robert Kory’s Eloquent Elegy For Leonard Cohen: Ohr HaTorah Synagogue Memorial – L.A., Dec 11, 2016

At the memorial for Leonard Cohen held by his family December 11, 2016 at Ohr HaTorah Synagogue in Los Angeles, Robert Kory, Leonard Cohen’s lawyer, manager and friend, offered these words about his associate and companion:

What can I say about my dear friend and client Leonard Cohen? Anything seems inadequate other than thanking him for the extraordinary opportunity to serve. I began working for Leonard in 2004, on a dark legal and financial rescue mission. But for the unqualified brilliance of my then associate and now law partner, Michelle Rice, we might well have failed.

But we succeeded, and our role evolved to that of personal manager, while continuing legal and financial duties. My relationship depended in large measure on our shared spiritual affinity, but we almost never discussed it, lest we frighten the muses. My job was to focus on the practical.

Through work for Leonard, I have come to know all of you in some way, and most of you personally. Some of you have known him through personal and/or professional relationships for decades; others of you met him through the recent, grand renaissance of his performing and recording career.

Leonard would want me to do two things today — to express his gratitude for all you have given him and to ask each of you to forgive his limitations. He passed away abruptly, and had he known he was almost out of time, he surely would have extended the show to thank you himself, as he did every night on tour, despite my protestations about union overtime after 11:30PM!

Leonard needed to be alone to create his art. He also needed people as evidenced by his overwhelming generosity and graciousness. One of my most important roles was assisting him in finding a precarious balance between these two conflicting needs. The most significant result was a tour in which he luxuriated in solitude, even while traveling with the “family” of band and crew, even during the 387 performances to sold-out audiences in arenas worldwide.

He was surprised but nourished by such solitude on tour. And so, he directed me to start declining requests to meet off tour as well, even requests from close friends, colleagues and family. But for this solitude, we might not have his last three magnificent studio albums.

But Leonard also often shared with me his deep regret that his time alone meant that he could not see those whom he loved or colleagues who were so important to his work. So, he also tasked me with asking others to “please forgive his limitations.” That task became particularly acute during the last four months of his life when he was trying to finish a book, a solitary endeavour.

So that is the context in which I shall try to fulfill what I feel Leonard would want me to say.

For those of you whom he knew intimately, he would want you to be secure in the knowledge of his profound and lasting love, even though in some cases it “might have all gone wrong,” even though “love is not a victory march”, even though it is often only a “broken Hallelujah.”

For those whom he knew mostly through a professional relationship, he would want you to be secure in the knowledge of his deep appreciation of all your efforts to assist in his renaissance over the past eight years. You helped the world to recognize where he resides in the tower of song — an unrivalled worldwide star — and you have helped assure that generations to come will “continue to hear from him… long after he has gone.”

Credit Due Department: Photo of Leonard Cohen & Robert Kory taken in Las Vegas (2010) by Judy Green

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

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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

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

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Leonard Cohen in Napoleonic pose, befitting the location

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Robert Kory

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

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Leonard Cohen & Robert Kory – Las Vegas 2010

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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

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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 …

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.

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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.

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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.

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