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Fans of Pee-wee Herman angry over show's postponement

October 7, 2009 | 11:44 am


They were planning to fly to L.A. from all over the country just to see one of their beloved pop-culture heroes. But now many of them are left with dashed hopes and airline cancellation fees -- and they are not happy, to say the least.

On Tuesday, actor Paul Reubens announced that he is pushing back the opening of "The Pee-wee Herman Show" to January from November. He also said that the stage show would be moving to Club Nokia in downtown L.A. from the original venue at the Music Box @ Fonda in Hollywood.

"Man, this is the worst news ever," said Steve Gadlin, a lifelong Pee-wee fan who lives in Chicago. Speaking on the phone Tuesday, Gadlin said he had purchased an airplane ticket and front-row seats for the show for the day after Thanksgiving. This morning, the Web developer (and part-time comic and producer) said he requested a refund on his tickets to the show.

"I'm not over-dramatizing this just because I'm talking to a newspaper reporter. This the biggest bummer on the planet. For me, I had such a connection to Pee-wee growing up. But, you know, I'll live."

Lynn Margaret of Atlanta said in an e-mail that she and a friend had purchased tickets for two nights in November and had booked four nights in a hotel.

She said she had to pay a $75 cancellation fee on her flight and that her friend from Boston had to pay a $150 cancellation fee.

"But it's really not the money," said Margaret. "We're just so sad and disappointed.  It feels like being stood up by someone who was one of your very favorite people, to find out they blew you off to hang out with people that are fancier and prettier and richer or something."

Fans -- or maybe one should say former fans -- of Pee-wee Herman have been leaving angry comments on Culture Monster since the news broke yesterday. 

One commenter who identified himself as Kevin (and who did not leave contact information) wrote that he already spent $1,500 in travel expenses to see the show and that he may have to pay $300 in cancellation fees. 

"It is [apparent] that the only reason the venue has changed is because PEEWEE has become a money grubbing jerk," he wrote.

Scott Sanders, lead producer of "The Pee-wee Herman Show," said the decision to move the dates and venue was because the production is growing larger and more technically complex.

"Paul called me and said, 'I think we're outgrowing the space,' " said Sanders. "As a producer, it felt clearer to me that it would be difficult if not impossible to make it work there. It was a creative and artistic decision that evolved organically."

"The Pee-wee Herman Show" is a reconceived version of Reubens' hit '80s stage show of the same name that launched him into stardom. The new version of the show is set to run Jan. 12 to Feb. 7, pushed back from its original Nov. 19-29 engagement.

To disappointed fans, the producer said: "I'm sorry and, really, it was not a decision that was taken without a great deal of thought."

-- David Ng

Photo: Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens) in a scene from "Pee-Wee's Playhouse Marathon." Credit: Fox Family Channel

Related stories

Pee-wee Herman's promoters explain ticket confusion

Paul Reubens revives Pee-wee Herman for new stage show

Comments () | Archives (55)

The way this was handled and how it appears that the most die-hard, front-of-the-line, plane-ticket-buying fans were hurt the most is definitely a story worth exploring.

But in my opinion, the Ticketmaster element is a whole separate issue that deserves even more coverage.

As one of the people who literally spent hours hitting redial over and over again at least a thousand times before getting through--and then being abruptly hung up on after waiting on hold forever the one time I did get through--I find it outrageous to learn that apparently this sort of practice isn't just an accident. I've read here and elsewhere that many other people had the same experience of being hung up on by the customer service agent. If it were just me, I'd give them the benefit of the doubt that the man had stubby fingers and just clicked the wrong button by mistake. But because so many people complained of this or being put on some sort of permanent hold, I just can't believe that the hang up wasn't on purpose.

Now the man's heavy sigh and weary tone when I politely (even cordially) asked him about the ticket exchange has been replaying in my head, and it seems to me that he just simply didn't want to deal with yet another person calling in as requested to secure their tickets to the Pee Wee Herman show.

My quesions for Ticketmaster would be:

1) How do you determine how many operators to assign to a specific issue like this? Is it something the promoter pays for? Is it something Ticketmaster decides on their own?

2) Did the one-week time-span they gave us factor in to the amount of resources they assigned to this issue? (i.e., did they figure that because it was a whole week, they could assign a number staffed by one or two agents and figure it would sort itself out?)

3) Did they even factor in that the customers were told it was "first-come, first serve," so that it would create a run on tickets, with everyone calling in at once?

4) Do they even pretend to care about how inconvenient creating a situation like this is for customers? Or do they just acknowledge that it's a cost thing, with no regard for the number of hours their customers had to spend on the phone to make the exchange?

5) How aware is Ticketmaster management of the widespread practice of their agents simply hanging up on desperate customers who have been on hold all day? Do they track this? When a customer's record is pulled up and then it results in multiple call backs before the issue is resolved, do they look at the records to see which agents are doing this or how often it happens?

I could fill this page with similar questions. The fact that this has been going on for so long and it's just accepted as the status quo is pretty telling. I really wish someone would do an expose on these practices. Then, maybe there would be a greater movement among bookers and artists to avoid this company whenever possible.

I swear, it feels like something out of Kafka.

This is so out of control... I Exchanged my GREAT 3 row table tickets yesterday.. after the "exchange" and $30 more per "VIP" tickets at the Nokia and im now sitting IN THE BALCONY. SO FRUSTRATED!! I ended up spending MORE MONEY for bad "VIP" seats.

So, I finally get through to ticketmaster, give them my confirmation number, and they refuse to exchange my tickets because the limit is now six. I have eight. fml.
I ask for a supervisor, waited forever and then learned that Goldenvoice makes that decision and they were just following orders--Nuremberg style. They then refused to give me either a name or phone number for Goldenvoice. Lovely.

the word of the day is GREED, when you hear this word SCREAM REAL LOUD!

I've been trying for days to get my ticket to Nokia... but now I think I just want it refunded.

I bought my ticket MONTHS ago, and this is how I'm repaid for my fan-loyalty? I've been watching his show since i was a kid... I wanted to see him in an intimate setting, now (if i even get through to ticket master) I'll be in row ZZ way in the effing back

Thanks a lot Pee Wee... NOT

I second the comments of Hey It's Enrico Pallazzo! I was disconnected too, shortly after reaching a rep, who put me on hold repeatedly to "review my account." In hindsight, I think she was reading the long list of instructions and/or explanations related to the Pee Wee ticket "exchange," and just said forget it. Next!

I had 4 tickets to the show for my sister, her boyfriend, my mom and myself. Now I got nothing. I was going to fly in from Seattle to see my family first, and to see Pee Wee second. At least I get my money back, but I won't get to see the Pee. I'm sad and alone :(

Wow people, you get what you give. After waiting on hold for 40 min - which was not cool I got better seats for the same price. The agent also told me i'd be getting a full refund for cancelled tix in 2-3 days. stop crying people, there are more important things in life to worry about.

I can't believe the amount of crying and bitterness on here. The price is a steal and it's amazing that he's even doing the show again. I'm glad so many people are asking for refunds so that I now get a chance to go! :D

You expect Paul Reubens to all of a sudden be unselfish? He's the biggest creep in Hollywood with a long habit of ripping people off, starting with the person who brought him the idea of this show. I hope an injunction is filed to stop this production. Then you can all get refunds and use the money for something much better.

This whole thing has been a kick in the pants to the fans. They neglected to tell me my tickets were going to be almost twice as much until they were charging my credit card.

Way to ruin Christmas. (Literally)

I know this is old news - but I just had to add - after 3 DAYS of numerous calls to Ticketmaster - met only with a busy signal - I finally got through today. The surly ticketmaster employee told me what everyone else in the comments are saying - the tickets will cost more, and the seats will be worse. Why didn't Ticketmaster (or even Pee Wee's people) post this information somewhere? It would have saved me 3 days of constant dialing and frustration.

I'd be happy to join any class action against TicketMaster and Goldenvoice. So sad to say, we will not be seeing Pee-wee now. Bought our original opening nite Music Box theater tix the minute they want on sale. Both my husband and I tried all day Wed to get thru to TM. Also, we just today got an email from GV --- found out about this BS-move from other friends with tix. I finally got thru to TM a few minutes ago, but no one's there to answer the phone. I hope TM/GV can fill Nokia now, for Pee-wee's sake.

Errr...question to Pee Wee and his "people"

Could you have maybe honored the original booking and then added another date at the bigger venue as you obviously underestimated the demand for tickets? Then nobody is unhappy and you still get the big pile of cash you want.

Its pee-wee herman dudes...stop it. Is he even a comic? do see chicagounderground comedy instead!!!

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