Most of us would be just fine with not being mentioned in a lawsuit.
But reading through the “Vegas Nocturne” producer’s complaint against The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, I bristled. “Hey, what am I, chopped liver?”
The lawsuit claims “Nocturne” opened to “universally positive” reviews in January. Guess it’s up for the judge to decide if my review, headlined “Vegas Nocturne’ hasn’t jelled at Rose.Rabbit.Lie.,” fits that label.
More to the point of what may end up in court, I wrote that the idea of a ticketed show combined with an immersive restaurant, with the same performers working in both, was a great idea that didn’t seem “sorted out yet.” I thought the separately ticketed ‘Nocturne’ played “more like a competitor’s knockoff ” of the same producer’s “Absinthe,” and “hasn’t yet caught up to its environment.”
It never did. The lawsuit claims The Cosmopolitan “sabotaged” the show and terminated the contract with show producer Spiegelworld abruptly in July, citing “excessive additional funding.” After kicking out “Nocturne,” the hotel is accused of converting some of the sets, costumes and other intellectual property to continue the “social club” aspects of Rose.Rabbit.Lie. on its own.
Why should we care? For one, “Nocturne” is looking to open elsewhere in town, where we may yet see how it would fare without the custom environment. And I still feel as if “Nocturne” and its larger setting offered a promising future for the ailing show strategies, particularly those that insist on force-feeding us acrobatics. If you’ve seen it all twice, you were at least seeing it in a new way this time.
Most of the legal complaint comes down to the usual: money. Plus strippers and booze, because this is Vegas after all.
The litigation implies an unusual arrangement of “Nocturne” sharing revenue from the entire operation instead of having to live or die on its own. The litigation claims the hotel, not the producer, was responsible for operating and payroll expenses.
And it goes to great length to accuse the food and beverage partner, Ten Palms, a Coastal Luxury Management affiliate, as being “corrupt and inept” to the point of stealing booze, drinking on the job and using an expense account to finance a strip-club run.
The judges and lawyers will have to sort all that out, along with the producer alleging The Cosmopolitan was motivated by the looming incentive of a retention bonus in the hotel’s eventual sale to the Blackstone Group.
But if you think I seem bitter at the plaintiffs for ignoring my superbly crafted review, I will offer some supporting evidence for the other side, too.
A long section of the complaint details how The Cosmopolitan “failed to properly market” Rose.Rabbit.Lie. and “Vegas Nocturne.” The producer alleges the public found “the branding and advertisement (to be) confusing and ambiguous,” with customers facing “uncertainty and doubt about the need for separate ticketing and dining reservations.”
This claim had me digging back to an email exchange with The Cosmopolitan from January, when I was working on a preview feature about the new venue for the Neon section. “(W)hile it’s fun to be cryptic and have teaser campaigns, at some point you have to explain to people what it is in plain English if you want them to buy a ticket for it,” I wrote on Jan. 8.
The legal system will have to sort out whether The Cosmopolitan is guilty of sabotage, or could simply no longer afford to subsidize a venture that was in a sense double-charging some patrons, and a show that wasn’t standing on its own two feet.
But when it comes to sabotaging its own good idea with excessive cleverness? Throw the book at ’em, yer honor!
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0288.