Harlem Globetrotters Sold! Wait… They Are a Business?

Globetrotters(PCM) For almost 90 years, the Harlem Globetrotters traveled the world, playing professional basketball in ways that usually gained them a notch in the ‘win’ column. (They cheat, but you can’t help but smile while they do it) I know they really are a business, and always were, it’s just odd to for me to hear that they were sold. The good news is, it sounds like there will be no changes to their performance or antics!

Press Release: Effective immediately, HGI (Harlem Globetrotters International) is a wholly owned subsidiary of HFE (Herschend Family Entertainment). HFE is the largest family-owned themed attractions company in the U.S., owning and operating 26 properties throughout the country, including theme parks, aquariums, hospitality businesses and tours.

“For nearly nine decades, the Harlem Globetrotters have had a rich tradition of creating family memories through sports and entertainment. The team is coming off its best touring year ever, and this acquisition helps HFE diversify into a new but complementary business,” said Joel Manby, HFE’s president and CEO, in making the announcement. “Becoming the new owners of this legendary team is a natural step as HFE continues to develop wholesome, immersive entertainment that parents can trust — entertainment that brings families closer together.”

“We couldn’t be more pleased to join the HFE family. The Globetrotters enjoy a huge global popularity that spans all continents, and our brand is hotter than ever. Under HFE’s ownership, we are looking forward to building upon this domestic and international success,” said Kurt Schneider, HGI’s CEO. “We also see opportunities to cross-market between the Harlem Globetrotters’ popular tour and players and HFE’s family attractions, allowing both companies to reach even more fans.  We are very thankful for Shamrock’s stewardship of the brand these past eight years.”

“We feel very fortunate that we had the opportunity to be stewards of this treasured American brand,” commented Michael LaSalle, Partner at Shamrock Capital Advisors. “The current team has enabled the Harlem Globetrotters to entertain more families than ever before, and we look forward to watching the next successful chapter of this storied franchise.”

A complement to HFE’s family-friendly portfolio of businesses, this acquisition marks an expansion for the company into new media, audiences and markets.  HGI brings to HFE a hugely popular and relevant brand that has seen a resurgence in the past five years, growing from a live event touring company into a full-fledged global entertainment brand. The Globetrotters perform over 400 live events worldwide annually, reaching over three million fans in more than 30 countries. Last year, HGI produced all-time highs in live-event revenue, sponsorship partnerships, merchandise sales and media impressions, all while building a top-notch online community and introducing its star players to a new generation of fans.

HFE was founded more than 50 years ago and is still privately owned by the Herschend family. Brothers Jack and Pete Herschend are co-founders of the company. In 2004, the brothers were inducted into the Hall of Fame of the amusement industry’s largest organization worldwide, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), for their strategic vision and leadership in the themed attractions industry.

Over the years, HFE’s many properties have been internationally lauded numerous times for excellence in theme, shows, entertainment and operations. In fact, the best new ride in the world was won by Dollywood in 2012 and Silver Dollar City in 2013.

The Harlem Globetrotters were founded in 1926 as the Savoy Big Five. Now, 88 years, over 25,000 games, six continents and 122 countries and territories later, the team has become one of the most recognizable franchises in sports and entertainment.

One of only nine teams to ever be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Globetrotters play over 400 exhibition games worldwide annually and have entertained over 138 million fans in their storied history.

While details of the agreement are private, HFE disclosed that the current HGI management team as well as the active player roster would remain the same. HGI employs more than 90 people including staff, players and coaches

Genesis Capital, LLC acted as the investment banker and McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP provided legal counsel for Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation. Piper Jaffray & Co. acted as the investment banker and Kirkland & Ellis LLP provided legal counsel for Harlem Globetrotters International, Inc.

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Only Known Anne Frank Video Resurfaces

(PCM) On July 22 1941,The young woman living at Merwedeplein 39, in Amsterdam got married. Anne Frank (June 12, 1929-1945) can be seen leaning out of the window of her apartment to get a look at the bride and groom.

At the time of her wedding, the bride lived on the second floor at Merwedeplein 39. The Anne Frank and her family lived at number 37, also on the second floor.

It is the only time Anne Frank has ever been captured on film. Anne Frank died in March 1945 at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Nazi Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945. The subject of a film based on her diary, The Diary of Anne Frasnk, helped make her the very human face of the holocaust. Her father, Otto, was the only immediate family member who survived the war. He died in 1980.

The Film is courtesy of The Anne Frank House, who were given the video in the 1990s by the now long-married couple.

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Throwback Video… Evolution of Dance!

Thanks to Throwback Thursdays we get to bring back nostalgic memories! Whether it is a song you used to listen to in middle school, a game you used to play against your friends, or a movie you had forgotten about that suddenly shows up on an HBO or Encore channel – we love when events, ideas, films, shows, songs give us a snapshot into our history. When a certain Backstreet Boys song comes on I can tell you exactly where I was in my life and what I was doing.

Recently, I have been circulating back through old YouTube videos that I watched in college. As the date of this video reveals, I just graduated a couple of years ago. But, as soon as I saw this again, it brought me back to my old (or newer) college days.

It was actually my parents that introduced me to this man. They were so impressed with his talents that they made me play it for EVERYBODY at EVERY family party. Since I love to dance my mother even tried to get me to memorize this… about six years later it is safe to say I am not getting around to that.

Judson Laipply is not only an inspirational comedian, but a great dancer. If you find this entertaining you should watch his other YouTube installments.

After his family and friends saw this (as I am sure they made up the 200,000,000 people that watched it), there is no doubt in my mind that he had to do this dance at every wedding, engagement party, birthday, or get together thereafter.What is your favorite part of his dance?


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What Happened to Batman?

75 years of the other guy who wears his underwear outside of His pants.

(PCM) It is April 1938 and a new magazine hits the newsstands. It is the first issue of Action comics and on the cover is a man holding a car above his head while shaking bad guys out of the vehicle. He is dressed in Blue tights and red shorts. He has a red cape and an S Shield on his chest. This is the first time the world has seen Superman. The actual date on the cover of the magazine says June, but the publishers wanted as much time on the market as they could get so Action number one was released in April. They were afraid that the new magazine would not sell, they did not need to worry, Action Comics would go on selling for the next 74 years. Why is an article that is about Batman starting with Superman? The answer without Superman there would never have been a Batman.

Batman was a direct result of Superman as so many other comic book heroes would be. The difference with The Batman is that he has staying power. When comic book heroes began to disappear in the 1950’s, it was only Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman that remained. Batman adapted to the times.

When the time was dark and ominous in the world in the 1930s Batman came to us as a dark avenger when entertainment turned to Science Fiction Batman began to time travel and have outer space adventures, When Batman came out as A TV show in 1966, and was pure camp, the hero took on the camp aspect. When the 1970’s got a bit dark so did our Caped Crusader. As the year went on up until this day Batman has gone back to his roots as a dark hero.

When Bob Kane was asked by the editor of National Allied Publication to come up with a second Superman, Mr Kane took on the challenge. Bob Kane was a primarily a cartoonist, not a writer, so he got help in the person of Bill Finger and together they created The Bat-Man, as he was originally known. There is no creditable account of Batman’s creation. No one knows who added what. We do know that Bill Finger was very fond of the pulp and Radio hero known as The Shadow and some of Batman was based on that popular Character. Regardless of who did what, Batman made his appearance in Detective Comics number 27 dated May 1939, 11 months after Superman’s debut.

Batman’s story is simple but its underlying complexity and psychological ramifications are immense. A young Bruce Wayne goes to the movies with his parents, in later years that movie specifically became The Mark Of Zorro. On their way home they pass through an alley where his parents are the victims of a hold up. The thief, Joe Chill, who has a pistol, reaches for Mrs. Wayne’s Pearls and as Bruce’s father attempts to protect his wife both Mr. and Mrs. Wayne are shot and killed. Bruce the sole witness to his parent’s death. In the original origin story there is a panel with Bruce kneeling at his bedside, a candle lit behind him, where he swears he will spend his life making war on all criminals

Bruce is lefty wealthy by his parents death he studies and works out training both his mind and body to as close to perfection as possible. When he feels he is ready he sits in a dark room and contemplates how he will go about his this battle he has declared. As if in answer to his thoughts a huge bat breaks thru the window and Bruce knows his fate is to become a bat-man.

As the story of Bat-man evolves for over 73 years, Batman’s roots become more complex. We learn that he is raised by the Family’s faithful butler, Alfred. We find out that the first person to find Bruce after his parents murder was a young female doctor named Leslie Tompkins. Bruce’s home is named Wayne Manor and under it is a series of caves that would later become The Batcave, the lair of Batman. Bruce travels the world to learn how to fight and learn different types of criminology; he studies with Zatarra the Magician, an early DC hero, who taught Bruce how to escape from different life threatening situations, like handcuffs and ropes, and who would become the father of Zatanna a later addition to the DC family and one of Batman’s comrades in arms.

A little over a year later in Detective Comics number 38. A new character would be added to the Batman’s Family. Another young man named Dick Grayson would watch as his parents are murdered by a henchman of Boss Zucco, a criminal who specialized in extorting “protection” money from businesses. When the owner of the circus, Mr. Haley, who Dick and his parents work for as trapeze artists, refuses to pay Zucco, Zucco’s men cut the ropes on the trapeze and Dick’s parents fall to their deaths.

Bruce Wayne is at the circus that night. He emerges as Batman to investigate but finding nothing, and Bruce takes Dick to his home. While there, Bruce questions Dick as to how much he wants to bring his parents killers to justice. Dick swears that he does and Bruce reveals himself to Dick. Dick is trained, already being a trapeze artist this is not difficult, he’s given a bright costume, and so emerges as Robin The Boy Wonder who would become a lighter side to Batman’s darkness.

On a purely psychological note, Batman is a very complex character. Not being an alien from another planet who has special abilities far beyond those of mortal men, Batman is born out of a desire for vengeance and justice. He is obsessed with his goal and spends more and more of his time making that goal happen.
Batman is The Man.

The identity of Bruce Wayne becomes a mask for Batman to assume. In fact because of the psychological trauma young Bruce experiences and his vow, it could be argued that that Bruce Wayne ceased to exist the night his parents were murdered. It would also be many years before his parent killer was brought to justice and so the anger of Bruce Wayne would continue to burn.

Robin, on the other hand is the light to Batman’s dark. Though both characters lose their parents, Robin is taken and raised by both Bruce and Alfred. Robin’s Parents murderer is brought to justice very swiftly and so Robin has closure. Robin almost didn’t need to train as he was risking his life from a young age a circus performer. Robin could keep his sense of humor, he could grow emotionally and learn to love. These are things Bruce is almost incapable of, his ability to trust and to love would barely grow at all, and obsession and the need for vengeance would continue to take deeper root.

Batman would begin to grow a large number of enemies, some of them deeply psychologically disturbed and the evil mirror image of himself. The first of these was The Joker. The Joker appeared in the first issue of Batman dated The Spring of 1940. In their first days single hero titles would be released quarterly instead of monthly.
Even in the Joker’s first story he is a homicidal maniac who has developed a formula that makes his victims die with a smile on their face. In the early days every time Batman met the Joker, The clown seemingly died only to have a found an escape at the last second and return to plague Batman.

Another classic villain who would emerge from Batman number one would be Catwoman, Selina Kyle, who is a brilliant jewel thief. In her first appearance she wears no costume, but the beginning of the attraction between her and Batman would begin that very first appearance, and would be a slow burn for the both of them for over seventy years. Eventually Selina would come to find out that Bruce is Batman and would, as often as not aid him on his crusade.

Other villains would follow, Oswald Cobblepot: The Penguin, Edward Nigma: The Riddler and Harvey Dent, the tragic Two-face, Professor Hugo Strange and Jonathan Crane, the Scarecrow, would both become enemies of the Batman and both Professors of psychology. Each of these villain, sane or insane, would make a permanent mark on Batman’s history.

In the 1950s Batman would encounter the hardest enemy he ever fought. This enemy would not wear a mask or tell riddles, would not make it’s victim’s die smiling or have a hundred trick umbrellas. This enemy was a book, and it did not arise out of the comic book world, but out of the mind of a psychologist named Fredric Wertham.

The year is 1954, the McCarthy years have started and the red scare is getting worse. McCarthy has even named Lucille Ball, the popular star of TVs highest rated show I Love Lucy, as a communist. This is the volatile time that Fredric Wertham that his book, Seduction of The Innocent was published.

Seduction of the Innocent was an attack made on The Comic Book. Mostly the attack was aimed at horror comics whose graphics and art was pretty much out of control for the time. Wertham accused comic books as the cause of juvenile delinquency as well as adding to illiteracy, but in four pages he attacked Batman and accused him and Robin of having a homosexual relationship. His thoughts were Bruce and Dick lived in a large mansion with just a butler, some of the panels would show them both waking up in the same bed. They would lounge around the mansion in their night clothes together – clearly these two characters were gay. From a literary stand point nothing could have been further from the truth.

Sure Bruce and Dick lived together, but it was never a sexual relationship it was more like a father son relationship, like the 1970s TV show The Courtship of Eddie’s Father. From a psychological stand point I doubt Bruce could have many sexual feelings at all, as obsession takes a lot out of you, and eventually we would see Robin become a teenager and have relationships with young ladies, of his own. Even the story tellers of the time denied that they were trying to convey a gay message.

Seduction of the Innocent did its damage though. Horror Comics virtually disappeared over night most of the superhero comics as well. Archie Comics and Funny Animal stories would again become popular. Batman however would continue to be published though changes would be made in the cast. Alfred the loyal butler would go and Aunt Harrier would arrive to take care of “the boys” Batwoman and the first Batgirl would become part of the stories both having romantic feelings toward Batman and Robin. The caped Crusaders would become the straight crusaders.

Seduction of the Innocent also brought about The Comics Code. Approval of every comic book story would have to go through the code to be sure it was suitable for publication and each comic book would be granted a seal of approval. The code would last until the mid 1970’s brought new writers and artists to the industry who would want to do stories that had some social relevance. Some titles like Green Lantern/Green Arrow and Spiderman would go to press without the approval as they were showing the horror of drug addiction and the stories needed to be told. Eventually The Comics Code would, for all intents and purposes, disappear.

The 1960s would show the rise of the Superhero again. Batman would get a TV show and his popularity would soar. Alfred would return to the fold and new and permanent Batgirl would appear. In the 1970’s Dick Grayson would leave Wayne Manor for college and Batman would be on his own again and the darker side of him would begin to emerge, as his roots were re-explored.

The eighties and nineties continued to bring a darker Batman, one version of Robin would be killed, a decision made by the fans, but the character would not stay dead for long. For the 21st Century Batman remains a dark and avenging hero, all too human and vulnerable, but in complete control of his destiny.

For further reading on Batman I suggest, The Batman Unmasked: Analyzing a Cultural Icon by Will Brooker, The Essential Batman Encyclopedia By Robert Greenberger, DC Comics Sixty Year of the World’s Favorite Superheroes by Les Daniels and The Batman Archive Editions published by DC Comics.
There are also some specialty books out there like Batman and Philosophy and Batman and Psychology, for a spiritual look at Batman there is God On the Streets of Gotham.

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“What is honour? a word.” –Falstaff (Henry IV, Part One)

Fun Lèna Fact: I love Shakespeare.

Fun Theatre Fact: The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey opened their 50th anniversary season with Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part One.

Fun General Fact (salute): It’s Fantastic!!

This week we shall explore my favorite history play written by the Bard himself.

Let’s begin with a brief history on our beloved Bill. He was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon in Warwickshire, England. We do not have the exact date of his birth but based on the date of his baptism it can most likely be placed on April 23, 1564. He grew up there in his home town, attending the local school where he would have been expected to speak and read different languages such as Latin. When he was 18 he married Anne Hathaway, who was already pregnant with his child, on May 26. Five months later Susanna Shakespeare was born. By 1592 he had gone to London and achieved success as both an actor and a playwright. By the time he retired he had fathered two more children, Hamnet and Judith (Hamnet tragically died during a bought of plague at the age of 11), he had written almost 40 plays, of which we still have 37, and 154 sonnets. He had also had two royal patrons (Queen Elizabeth I and King James IV). He lived out the last few years of his life in Stratford-Upon-Avon and died on April 23, 1616 (his assumed birthday) at the age of 52. He is buried in the church at Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Onto Henry IV, Part One. It is the second installment in a tetralogy (four part series) about the rise of the house of Lancaster in British royal history. The full tetralogy is Richard II, Henry IV Part One, Henry IV Part Two, and Henry V. It was written 1597. The entire saga is based on actual historical events but Shakespeare took some liberties where dramatically suitable, like Hotspur and Prince Hal being the same age, historically they were not. Who are Hotspur and Prince Hal you ask? All in good time…

The play is set in England during 1402-1403 on the bloody battle fields where honor is won and lost in the deeds men do, the Boar’s Head Inn where honor is interchangeably mocked and used, and England’s royal court where honor demands respect or no. King Henry IV (played by Brent Harris) is at war with the Scots to the north. His son, Prince Henry, nicknamed Hal (Derek Wilson), is a bit of a disappointment to his father. Prince Hal spends his time in taverns drinking and wenching with his very good friend, Falstaff (John Ahlin), an old, fat, drunken nobleman. (Fun Fact: Queen Elizabeth I was such a big fan of this character, that Shakespeare wrote The Merry Wives of Windsor to showcase another Falstaff character just for her majesty. Falstaff is considered one of the funniest characters in not only the entire Shakespearian cannon but also English literature.) He and the other ragtags convince Hal to partake in a robbery. Unbeknownst to Falstaff however, Hal and Poins (Jeffery M. Bender) plan to split off from the group and rob Falstaff after the deed. Hilarity ensues. Still the friendship and brotherhood between Hal and Falstaff  is beautiful in the Shakespeare Theatre NJ production. Heartbreaking and sidesplitting all at once.

Contrary to Hal is Henry Percy (Jon Barker) nicknamed Hotspur, son of the Earl of Northumberland (Glenn Beatty). He is brave, brilliant, and honorable but also impulsive and has a temper, hence his nickname. His father and he are secretly planning to lead a revolt against the king. King Henry IV summons Hal, urging him to change his behavior and act like a prince. Hal, who has always intended to step up when the time came, promises to do so. This scene between father and son is so moving, when I saw it at STNJ I was crying. You could see in Brent and Derek’s faces that they were each other’s heroes. I truly felt that the love between this king and his son went beyond duty or legacy. Shakespeare’s good like that, writing words with so much life, but Brent and Derek give the scene its heart.

I must also put in a strong word for the three women in this show. Mistress Quickly (Jesse Graham), Lady Percy (Izzie Steele), and Lady Mortimer. Shakespeare is good to his women characters. Even if they have one scene, it is important, uncut-able, and moving.  Mistress Quickly is the hostess of the Boar’s Head Inn and the insults and comedy she and the other characters bounce off one another, particularly Falstaff, is priceless. Truly some of the best insults in the Shakespearean cannon. Lady Percy’s strength, heart, and passion for her husband is inspiring. She is the rock that holds her hot headed husband down to earth while still holding him up and supporting him with all her self. And Lady Mortimer, who speaks only Welch while her husband Lord Mortimer (Doug West) speaks only English, is so devoted and in love with her husband, they still understand each other. These three actresses and their work are three of the absolute shining moments of this beautiful production.

Meanwhile, Hotspur is given intelligence that his forces will be greatly outnumbered because his uncle cannot get to them on the battle field. But Hotspur says, “let them come” no matter what the opposing side’s numbers are. The play culminates in a climactic scene where Hal and Hotspur meet on the battle field “Harry to Harry” and though they are both well trained and skilled Hal proves the better swordsman and Hotspur falls. Hal does not gloat or show any feeling but respect and admiration for his fallen foe.

This is a ver very Very abridged telling of this amazing story and it is certainly one to look up and experience at your next opportunity. If you are in the NJ/NY area, come see Henry IV at Shakespeare Theatre of NJ. Previews started May 30th, Opening Night was June 2nd (that’s when I went), and it runs until Sunday June 24th.  If for no other reason, see it for the beards!

Logo photo by Justine Impressions http://www.justineimpressions.com/

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