It’s no secret that times are tough at 18th and Grand…
Anything and everything is for sale these days for a price. Sunday comics, business listings, death notices. But there are limits, as the newspaper learned today the hard way after KC Confidential noticed it was hawking merchandise festooned with photos purloined from Broadway Across America’s production of "Grease" at the Music Hall.
The Star posted a dozen photographs taken opening night at the musical by photographer Allison Long. Ostensibly to run with its review of the show. But an advisory invited readers to purchase everything from photos, and coffee mugs to t-shirts and mouse pads – even a "keepsake box" for anywhere from $8.50 to $89.95.
A move placed the Star into competition with the play’s merchandise and souvenir sales.
"Where is it being advertised for sale?" a rep for theater company asked after KCC‘s inquiry.
"You mean they sell those pictures?" a stunned Theater League head Mark Edelman asked. "I don’t think they can do that – they can’t do that. I’ve never heard of that. As an attorney, I can promise you if they did that with ‘Wicked’ they would be in serious trouble."
Eight hours later – presumably after a scolding – the Star pulled its offer to sell the purloined Grease pics merch.
"Apparently someone forgot to check a box on the website – you know how that goes – and these pics ended up on the merch site," Edelman reports. "It’s been corrected."
Something about the Star‘s policy being to only use the photos to accompany news stories.
Leaving the question of how many readers bought the Grease gear – like I did – stopping just short of completing the transaction.