Didn’t really want to start the year off with another post about the Alamo, but several emails I received in the past 24 hours and Jan Jarboe Russell’s column on the future of the shrine of Texas liberty in today’s San Antonio Express-News compelled me to head down this blog’s wellworn path to the door of the Alamo.
This morning’s email had brought me a summary from wordpress.com listing the top five posts on my blog during 2010. Three of the five are Alamobsessive:
In the Express, Russell shares concerns expressed by state Senator Leticia van de Putte about the contract the Daughters of the Republic of Texas have entered into with WME Entertainment:
Meanwhile, Van de Putte and others are uncomfortable with the governing board’s recent decision to hire William Morris Endeavor Entertainment at $75,000 a month for a year to promote the Alamo. The Daughters’ own efforts to raise significant money for an endowment have failed.
“This is an agency that represents movies stars like Madonna and promotes celebrity brands like Tommy Hilfiger,” Van de Putte said. “This would be the first time the agency promoted a historic landmark. I don’t think it’s appropriate.”
WME Entertainment was formed by a 2009 merger that shook up Hollywood. According to answers.com:
What do you call an aging Hollywood star trying to regain youth and vigor by marrying a much younger starlet? Try William Morris Endeavor Entertainment (WME Entertainment), the new talent agency formed by the 2009 merger of 100-year-old William Morris Agency and Endeavor, born in 1995. The new super-agency ranks in size (boasting more than 300 agents) and scope with the Creative Artists Agency, a leader in the talent representation industry. WME Entertainment’s roster of stars includes Adam Sandler, Clint Eastwood, Denzel Washington, and Russell Crowe, among other A-list names. William Morris brought its primacy in books, music, and TV to the marriage, while upstart Endeavor adds young stars and momentum.
Now add the ancient Alamo to that roster.
Generally, the best way to quell a story and end rumors is to lay out the facts in a straightforward fashion. But it seems the contract the Daughters signed includes a major confidentiality clause that damages their credibility in dealing with the public. To someone unfamiliar with the high-dollar entertainment industry (as in me), the figure seems steep:
In consideration of the marketing services to be rendered by WME as set forth herein, WME shall be outlined to receive a guaranteed total of Nine Hundred Thousand Dollars ($900,000) for the term payable in equal monthly installments of Seventy Five Thousand Dollars ($75,000) for the months from November 1, 2010 until October 31, 2011.
Lips remain zipped over who is footing the bill to support this contract, but bets are on Phil Collins. According to Mail Online:
He recently secretly bought a shop next to the Alamo mission simply so that he could dig under it in search of artifacts. He’s also spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on memorabilia…. Collins spends weeks at a time in Texas, and his friends believe that he is preparing to buy a home there…. He’s addressed a local historical society, is thinking of writing a book, and is coming out of semi-retirement next spring in order to do a benefit gig for a restoration fund in San Antonio.
Not only does he collect everything Alamo, Collins apparently believes he was at the Alamo in 1836. Again, according to Mail Online:
Gary Foreman, a fellow Alamo enthusiast, recalled the moment that his wife Carolyn “revealed” Phil’s former life as Texan courier John W Smith, a man who was known as El Colorado — the redhead — because of his hair. Foreman said his wife called Collins over and shared her conviction with him. “When she made the revelation to Phil, his face lit up. His reaction was he felt very much at home at the Alamo and now it made sense.”
If Phil Collins is the mystery philanthropist, it is great to have someone outside of San Antonio take intense interest in and demonstrate a willingness to invest in such an important landmark. But, whoever the funder is, it takes a leap of faith to believe Hollywood marketing expertise will treat the history part of the story of the Alamo with the respect it merits.
What the Alamo needs isn’t a promoter, but steady, reliable management and a staff of historians and professionals with a solid understanding of quality museum practices.
Hopefully, the Daughters will emerge from this with a new image as incredibly savvy businesswomen who have found a brilliant fundraising strategy to keep the Alamo in repair for years to come. Or….
Update on January 5, 2011:
In 2010, the byline of one Scott Huddleston, a longtime Express-News reporter, was most associated with the Alamo. And what a roller coast ride it was.
Ben Olivo briefly summarizes the year’s stories about the Alamo that dominated coverage of downtown San Antonio.
January 6 Update: Phil Collins’ and Ricky Skaggs’ fans shouldn’t book their plane tickets to San Antonio yet. While the DRT website still has March 5th posted as the date for the free concert on the plaza, the Convention and Visitors Bureau now lists it as happening on the Fourth of July….
And Scott Huddleston of the Express-News posted the news this evening that “Alamo concert now on hold.”
Update on January 24: One website suggests tongue-in-cheek that the Daughters pretty much just go all the way Alamollywood and chuck the real Alamo for the “reel” Alamo.