Hearne: How and Why Judge Reinhold Hung The New Theatre Restaurant Out to Dry

Screen shot 2014-01-28 at 10.15.27 AMAnd now, the rest of the story…

It’s not every day that Overland Park’s 22 year-old New Theatre Restaurant has to cancel its opening night performance. But that’s exactly what happened last Wednesday for the kickoff performance of the classic play Harvey starring Judge Reinhold.

The same Judge Reinhold who hooked up in 1982 with Eddie Murphy for Beverly Hills Cop, co-starred in Fast Times at Ridgemont High and appeared in those goofy Beethoven mutt movies in the 1990s and early 2000s. He’s also the 56 year-old Hollywood has been who the New Theatre signed to be the token “name” star in its 10 week run here of the Jimmy Stewart classic.

That is until a last minute dustup last week resulted in Reinhold bailing on the New Theatre and causing it to cancel for the first time in the company’s history, what was probably a sold out opening night performance.

hp_harvey_onWorse yet, ticket holders expecting to party with Reinhold are now stuck with a local backup / understudy until 58 year-old Englishman Charles Shaughnessy can memorize the leading character’s lines well enough and step in as lead actor on January 30.

Put simply, it wasn’t pretty… 

Yet in reporting the news for the Kansas City Star, all my pal Robert Trussell could muster in the form of skinny about the dramatic falling out, was the theater says that Reinhold wasn’t happy with things after three weeks of rehearsals so they let him out of his contract and more-or-less wished him well. And a stilted email statement from Reinhold saying the New Theatre gang are jolly good fellows and he’s certain the play will be a crowd pleaser…you know, and he wishes them well too, right?


Carrothers & Hennessy

Carrothers & Hennessy

It was maybe the worst theatrical thing to ever happen to owners Richard Carrothers and Dennis Hennessy since they painted themselves into a coat closet in 1972 on opening night at the old Tiffany’s Attic at 51st and Main, and everybody says they still want to hug it out. Highly unlikely.

So that’s the real story?

“Of course not,” says local actress Carol Barta. “Any time an actor is replaced it’s not a happy thing. It’s not anything to have a picnic over. You know there’s much more about the entire situation than got published.”

Somewhat obviously, neither the New Theatre or Reinhold wanted to clear the air.

“If they wanted all the dirty laundry out they would have put it out,” Barta says. “So if there’s really more to the story – and there probably is – you’re going to have to get it from somebody that’s in the loop.”

Dyan Cannon and ex husband Cary Grant circa 1963

Dyan Cannon and ex husband Cary Grant circa 1963

Speaking of which, the Star could have easily gotten to the bottom of the matter and reported what really happened, but that would have entailed pissing off an advertiser.

So what is the real story behind the unprecedented breakup?

“I know the whole story,” says one local theater insider. “But it’s a little dicey.”

In a nutshell, when the New Theatre brings in one of its marquee stars – like washed up 77 year-old, former Hollywood sex symbol Dyan Cannon last year – they pay them a pretty penny, treat them like kings and build their entire marketing strategy around them.

“They come in three weeks in advance and are contracted for six days a week for rehearsals,” says the source. “But for some of these guys who haven’t done live theater for a long time, that can be kind of hard on them.”

Speaking of which…

Spike TV's 5th Annual 2011 "Guys Choice" Awards - ShowA typical New Theatre production consists of 8 shows a week for 10 weeks.

But they pay them very well,” says the source. “I can tell you for sure Reinhold was making really good money, probably between $4,000 and $5,000 a week. And the New Theatre owns and provides them renovated, really nice houses – beautifully accommodated – that come with a house cleaner once a week. And they get a car, cleaned and gassed up. They’re very well taken care of.”

So how do the New Theatre dudes really feel about the Reinhold disaster?

“They’re totally bummed because it’s costing them a lot of money and they had to bring in somebody else.”

eden-sizedAs for what went down, “I think Reinhold was struggling with the role and he had not done theater in like 16 years. And sometimes the actors get nervous that the entire show is on their back. Barbara Eden came in very nervous, but she totally relaxed and never missed a performance. She was amazing.”

That was hardly the case with Reinhold.

“It was rough going, even into the second week of rehearsals. I just think he was beating up on himself and he started taking it out on other people, including the director who (co) owns the theater. And it all culminated on the last day – Monday of last week. They were doing a rehearsal and it didn’t go that bad – and Reinhold was nervous – but he absolutely had the character down. But there were some techincal problems and I think it just overwhelmed him.

“Because after that final rehearsal, he just flipped out and it’s too bad, because he would have been fine. he got upset about the fact that they weren’t taking a lunch break and he started yelling – and yelling at people – and it was the last straw. And he went in a room with one of the directors – and we don’t know what happened in that room – if he was fired or he quit. And that’s when it ended. It ended on Monday and they had to cancel the opening night show on Wednesday.”

harvey_Stewart-thumb-550x363-21697The sad reality; it didn’t need to happen and nobody wanted it to.

“I know (Reinhold) didn’t plan on this happening because his wife and one year-old daughter had just flown in the night before. The theater didn’t want this to happen and Judge didn’t want this to happen, so whatever happened in that meeting must have been pretty prickly. I mean, they had to cancel opening night for godsakes and they’ve never canceled a show in 22 years. They even have a generator if the power goes out.”

Money aside, how bad might Reinhold’s abrupt and angry departure hurt the box office?

“The New Theatre may lose out on some single ticket sales, but they’re not going to lose money because they have so many subscribers. They have something like 23,000 subscribers. That’s why their shows run so long.”

And that ladies and gentlemen, is the rest of the story.

With the possible exception of – tisk, tisk – the uncorrected misspelling of New Theatre cofounder and owner Dennis Hennessy’s last name by the Star.



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31 Responses to Hearne: How and Why Judge Reinhold Hung The New Theatre Restaurant Out to Dry

  1. tiad says:


    I love that final line. Oh, the humanity! I wonder what would Bob Lefsetz/Lefstez have to say about it?


    The entire country’s caught something flu shots cannot ward off.

    That’s what entertainment pundit Bob Lefsetz seems to suggest.

    “You know America,” Lefstez says. “A desperate land where it’s everybody for himself, where the pop artists tell us how much better and more fabulous than us they are and we’re peppered with inane ditties imploring us to get up our gumption and do…what?

    • admin says:

      You know, Tiad,

      You’re going to need to get a life one of these days and try not to obcess over the odd typographical error on a blog.

      There’s a huge difference between a single typo in a story where the name is totally correct from the get go and a total uncorrected misspelling of a principal character in a new story by a veteran reporter who has at least one editor and the entire copy desk pouring over every word of every story trying to prevent that very thing.

      However, I think you understand this, as from this and your past comments you sound like a sour (former?) Star guy.

      Similarly, you probably understand how many (if not most) reporters will try and dodge having to write a correction unless busted by a reader. I’ve got a pretty good idea that Bob knows he slipped up and was hoping to ride this one out.

      Guess we’ll see if Donovan makes him issue a correction now. That is the Star policy. Not on typos. If Bob had the name spelled correctly to start with and numerous times but a single typo slipped thru, guess what? There would have been no correction.

      Nice try at muddying the waters.

      On second thought, maybe you’re not of the journalism cloth after all.

      • Tiad says:


        I agree with you and Barbra/Barbara Eden.

        • admin says:

          You know one of these days I’m going to save up and pay you $1.25 an error to copy edit KCC…

          Again, there’s a huge difference between a typo on a blog run by a single person and a major name misspelling in a news story at a daily newspaper with a bank of editors making actual paychecks to catch said errors.

          Not to mention the reporter, who as of today – several days after the fact – still hasn’t owned up and published a correction.

          Which as well you know, is a punashable offense at the Star…

          Hey Tiad; did you catch that last typo just now?

          Now let’s hear you man up and talk about the correction, dude.

          • Gerald Bostock says:

            I’ve never understood why some people are weirdly proud of their inability to spell correctly or use proper grammar. A typo, whether on a blog or a newspaper, is still a typo that signifies to at least some readers that the writing was published with a lack of care or professionalism. One difference is that if it happens at a large newspaper, the reader can’t be sure if the sloppiness occurred at the writer level, the line editor level, the copy editor level or the page layout stage. On a one-person blog, it’s pretty clear who’s being sloppy. You want readers to see your track record at the Star as part of the credentials that give this blog journalistic credibility, but you refuse to own your carelessness and acknowledge that it is part of the reason that many of the posts come off as underreported exercises in narcissism.

          • tiad says:


            What am I “manning up” to? That The Star should print a correction on the name? OK, I agree. I’m a man. Thanks.

          • admin says:

            Geez, I’m flushing out all the (former?) Star editors and/or writers…Tiad, Bostock – it’s like old home week.

            Allow me to kill two you you young birds with one response…

            First my man Mr. T:

            Just messin’ with you T – kinda like you were with me. But seriously, picking out a secondary typo to waste a comment on might be slightly indicative that you don’t have much of a life.

            Don’t take that the wrong way; you’re more than welcome to have at me.

            Obviously though, as you finally concede, the error Trussell made on the owner’s name in a Star newsworthy was a pretty bad error and trust me, having made similar errors, I can tell you that sort of thing ruins your whole day…and then some.

            Even if you don’t get caught. Because it’s highly unlikely Bob knows he effed up and spend the past several days hoping no one called it in for a correction.

            I was just pimping you on the manning up part because when you have a news story and as an aside point out a serious published error that has dangled along for several days with no correction, it’s kind of a major thing at 18th and Grand.

            As for Lord Bostock – an obvious Jethro Tull fan – you did a nice job dressing me down except for one thing…

            There’s a world of difference between my playing in the Big Leagues and having a highly paid, stellar career and my bumping along, pretty much for free, in the interest of informing and entertaining you guys.

            So yes, if I was properly staffed and trying to make a living off of my work here – which I’m obviously not – your critique might hit home and I too would sulk like trussell will or should, even for making a mere typo.

            But get real dude, this is here and now and time and resources being what they are, I’m at peace with the fact that there are going to be some minor slip ups from time to time. I don’t welcome them, but nor does it take away from my track record at the Star.

            They weren’t paying me about double what many, if not most reporters there were being paid because of my good looks. I delivered the goods, week in and week out four to five times a week for 16 years and they tried to hire me back to freelance the column like five weeks after my layoff.

            And nice try at muddying the water on who might have made the error. Yeah, and somebody from the mail room might have dropped something on a copy editors keyboard and caused it as well.

            It’s obviously a reporter error and if indeed you are a past Star writer, you know that it’s incumbent upon the reporter to turn himself in and take the correction hit.

            Now I’ll let you in on a little secret.

            I can’t tell you how many times writers at the Star knew they messed up, sweated bullets, then lucked out and didged the correction bullet.

            Want examples?

            How about a year or so ago with my pal Kevin Collison referred to The Woodside Health & Tennis Club in a major news story as the Woodside Racquet Club?

            The time Bob Butler wrote a Sunday story about an Imax version of a Matrix movie cutting out big chunks of the film. Then the next Sunday – sans a correction – dropped in the fact that said movie did indeed have the portions Butler reported were missing.

            The time Tim Finn butchered the spelling of Jack Poessiger’s last name…and never corrected it.

            The tome Brian McTavish wrote a Preview section cover story and identifed Bob Garrett as being the GM at Sandstone…when he totally was not – never was – and wasn’t even working there. No correction and that one was huge.

            Let’s see, the zillions of times Joyce Smith has argued and / or bullied her way out of doing a correction.

            Reporters HATE having to write corrections.

            I hate it too, but when you’re basically a one man band riding herd over several writers in a highly part time endeavor, there are going to be typos. Most people don’t even catch em.

            You know what? It’s part of life…I would suggest a very small part. But when you’re the newspaper of record and you have a battery of editors and you mess up in an important story, that’s worth noting.

            And outside of shadow boxing with you two, it was accomplished in a single throw away sentence at the end of a pretty well researched and reported story with excellent sources, on and off the record.


  2. OPKS Jimbo says:

    Learn it.
    Know it.
    Live it.

  3. the dude says:

    Looks like this Judge guy figuratively put some bananas in the New Theater’s tail pipe.

  4. the dude says:

    Maybe the Theater dudes wanted Judge to wear his Captain Hook Fish and Chips uniform and he balked.

  5. Jack Springer says:

    The real tragedy is that the place still calls itself the New Theatre Restaurant.

    Isn’t it about time to change the name?

    … maybe the Washed Up Theatre Restaurant?

    • admin says:

      You know, I’m being a little snotty making fun of the has-been nature of this dinner theater game, but maybe I shouldn’t be.

      Who’s to say pulling a familiar name out of the past for people of a certain age – and even younger to be fair – is a bad thing?

      Actually, the story behind the story is a sad one…for all inovlved.

      As for the dinner theater cuisine – or should I say, what passes for dinner theater cuisine – it’s always been pretty poor. Mediocre buffet style comfort food is how I remember it.

  6. hot harley says:

    first of all hearne….who gives a f*ck?
    a second rate actor with credentials that go back 20 years has no right
    to walk out on the two lovely owners of the new theatre.
    the average age in there was about 70 the last time I was there and the
    bus from john know broke down.
    and this you call journalism.
    as your people say “it must have been a slow news day”…
    gee…Harvey…that’s a real popular show. I think don knots played
    Harvey one time but he shot himself with his only bullet.
    wow hearne…this is late breaking…major news.
    whats next…john knox is dropping bingo night. OMG…whats the world
    coming to???????

    • admin says:

      The last time you where there everybody was 70?

      Were you standing in front of a mirror by chance when you made that observation?

      I will say this, your typing is getting much, much better. You been taking lessons from Paul Wilson or something?

      • literally the john waters of se missouri says:

        Not even h@rley would be foolhardy enough to do that. He’s got a team of internets lawyers who got an jd-llm in backtracing from Cyberpolice university law school.

        One slip up about his wifey and he will be scheduling an e fistfight forthwith

    • the dude says:

      hearne, I think you need to get on this john knox newsy tip the harlinator is serving to you. This could possibly make for an epic 5 or 6 part kcc story. Make the jardines story seem like a missing kitten found story in comparison.

      • admin says:

        John Who?

        He said, John Know, not John Knox – whoever that is.

        • literally the john waters of se missouri says:

          Guarantee there is lotsa jazz at john knox, it would be right up yer alley.

        • the dude says:

          John Knox, harlinator said they were possibly dropping bingo from the activities. This is a hot story hearne, get on it!!

  7. admin says:

    By the way guys, don’t feel too sad about the New Theatre Restaurant…

    Yeah, tagging the name with restaurant is a little lame – ok – a lot lame. Especially given the quality, if you will, of the food.

    But these dudes are making bank.

    They don’t do 10 week runs, shell out that kinda dough and roll out the red carpet for the geezer pleasers because they ain’t making the jack.

    Then again, anybody remember Brian McTavish’s write up of the experience three or so years ago? Brutal!

    • Andrew says:

      I’m not too worried about them. “Harvey” is a great play (good movie, too), and I’d love to see it again. I have no trouble believing that many of the patrons of the New Theatre Restaurant are older, but that’s not going to keep me away. And anyway, if they are older, then I can’t imagine that Judge Reinhold was a draw—for example, my parents are in their mid-60s and pretty active, so I don’t think of them as “old, really, but I’m sure they wouldn’t know him. I bet that the audience wanted to see the play, not necessarily him. I bet Charles Shaughnessy will be great (I think I read that he does a lot of theater; he was good on “Mad Men,” too, though it was a small role), the local guy is probably also great, and now I’m interested in checking this place out…I’ve meant to since I moved here. Maybe I’ll be the youngest person there, but so what? Maybe the food will suck, who cares. Maybe this news story will spur others into action and remind them about this place. I bet they’ll be just fine.

      • admin says:

        Excellent points, Andrew…

        Except if your parents are in the 60s, chances are they know the Judge. Might need a reminder though.

        Beverly Hills Cop and Fast Times were fairly huge, he just wasn’t able to capitalize on them and take it to the next level. Happens

  8. Leroy Tyrone says:

    Not everyone who goes to the New Theater is on Medicare . This is not meant to be Tony award winning theater. It is a pleasant night out with good food and a chance to enjoy some popular actors. Pretentious critics can piss-off.

    • admin says:

      I agree…

      Stereotypes often overstate reality

    • the dude says:

      Calm down sparky, the blue hairs need some buffet comfort food that can help with the laxatives and a nice, safe show they can fall asleep to. Nobody is knocking it hard, calm down.

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