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'Daily Show' to broadcast from ImaginOn during DNC; tickets gone

The comedy newscast will pay $94,488 in rent for around-the-clock access

By Steve Lyttle and Celeste Smith
Staff Writers

Tickets were all snapped up within an hour Monday once word got out that popular fake TV news show host Jon Stewart was coming to town in September for the Democratic National Convention.

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library board agreed Monday to rent part of the ImaginOn children’s library and theater to Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” for $94,488. In return, “The Daily Show” will have use of ImaginOn around the clock from Aug. 28 to Sept 8.

The agreement involves using the McColl Family Theatre and two rehearsal rooms at ImaginOn. The show’s actual air dates from Charlotte will be Sept. 4-7.

Producers made about 450 free tickets available online for each show.

The rental fees include $68,496 for use of the McColl Theatre at ImaginOn, plus $21,096 for rehearsal space and $4,896 for house management. Those fees could rise if the show’s crew needs more space within ImaginOn, and the site’s support staff, for longer than planned, library officials said.

Because ImaginOn is a collaborative effort between the library system and Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, the groups will split the revenue evenly.

“Fifty-thousand dollars for each of us will be a really great thing,” library CEO Vick Phillips said at a news conference with theatre Executive Director Bruce LaRowe.

Library officials say revenue from the lease will supplement the library’s operating budget, including services that support literacy and workforce development. LaRowe said the money can help Children’s Theatre extend programming within schools and community centers that was scaled back during the recession.

“We are incredibly excited to spend a week in the beautiful city of Charlotte,” said Rory Albanese, the show’s executive producer. “And to the good people of North Carolina, for their Southern hospitality in hosting 125 smart-aleck New Yorkers, we offer in advance our thanks, but most of all, our apologies.

“Honestly, we didn’t mean to break that, and we promise we’ll pay for it.”

Library board Chairman Charles Bowman said revenue from the show “will support two cherished Charlotte organizations that have experienced funding challenges due to the recession. We are proud to highlight this positive benefit to this community.”

“The Daily Show” aired from Denver University during the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Producers considered several sites in Charlotte – reportedly including Booth Playhouse.

Library officials already voted last year to close the system’s two uptown locations, ImaginOn and the Main Library, to the public during the convention because of safety and parking concerns. Normally closed on Sunday, Sept. 2 and Labor Day, Sept. 3, the sites likely will stay closed for most of that week and reopen Saturday, Sept. 8. Dates haven’t been finalized, according to the library.

Other groups are interested in leasing the Main Library as well, Phillips said.

Smith: 704-358-5087
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