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POP MUSIC | Pop Eye

Don't Count on Springsteen Being an L.A. Staple

July 11, 1999|STEVE HOCHMAN

Waiting for all those other Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band concerts in the Los Angeles area to be announced in addition to the Oct. 17 opening night of the Staples Center? Don't hold your breath.

While New Jersey is getting 15 shows at the Continental Airlines Arena, the Boss' other hometown may wind up with as few as two nights, and almost certainly no more than four.

A combination of scheduling issues limits the availability of more nights at the new downtown arena, with the needs of the Lakers, Clippers and Kings to be considered and other events being booked. Meanwhile, Springsteen refuses to play more than two nights in a row without a day off and is said to be unwilling to block out more than a week for L.A., which he would have to do to play more Staples dates.

How about other area facilities? Nope. With the point being to shine a big spotlight on the sparkling Staples Center, the Forum and the Sports Arena are out of the picture this time around, and apparently the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim is also considered close enough to be seen as competition.

The upshot is that tickets will be very highly prized, and if you get shut out, you're going to have to pay very dearly to get them through resellers--either legal brokers or illegal scalpers. Even with the 15 shows in Jersey, tickets for merely good seats are being auctioned on the Internet for as high as $800 a pop.

That's of great concern to the promoters of the L.A. event and to Springsteen himself, who all prefer that the tickets go to the fans at face value.

"The Staples Center will have a zero tolerance level for scalpers," says Bobby Goldwater, the senior vice president and general manager of the arena. "We'll be announcing some policies to control that soon, both for concerts and sports events."

It's also expected that a system instituted for the Jersey shows to keep special control on the most coveted seats in the front rows will be used here as well. The first 17 rows will be sold only via Ticketmaster phone lines with a limit of two per person to circumvent brokers who are known to pay homeless people to stand in line at box office and store outlets. More significantly, those tickets won't be mailed to customers, but will only be available for pickup right before the show, with purchasers required to show two forms if ID, including the credit card used for the transaction. The buyer and guest will then be escorted directly to their seats, to prevent anyone from going back to the parking lot and selling the tickets.

Though that may keep the best seats out of broker and scalper hands, it could drive the resale value of other seats higher.

A representative of the V.I.P. ticket broker service shrugged off the planned measures.

"That can just send the demand up more because there's less supply," he said.

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PUMPKIN SEEDS: Will the Smashing Pumpkins have new management before Halloween--let alone before the release of the band's next album in October. Eight months after parting ways with powerful New York company Q Prime, Billy Corgan and crew are still looking. The band was in lengthy discussions with Beastie Boys and Beck manager John Silva and former Capitol Records president Gary Gersh about becoming the first signing to their new G.A.S. Entertainment, but those talks have broken off with both sides passing on the deal.

The new name in the mill is Kevin Gasser, who is heading the music division of Michael Ovitz's controversial Artists Management Group. Gasser has a long relationship with the band, having been their booking agent when he was at Creative Artists Agency. He spent the last few years as one of the top executives at Disney's Hollywood Records before rejoining his former CAA boss Ovitz at the new company two months ago.

This would be a coup for Gasser and Ovitz, giving them a high-profile music client that would help attract others.

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THE MARCH OF TIME: Fans of D'Angelo have been eagerly awaiting a second album since the R&B prodigy's debut came out in 1994. So has his label, Virgin Records. And now Virgin executives are tired of waiting. Sources at the company say the label basically cut off the money for the artist's studio time and told him it was time to deliver the album, which he's been working on for more than two years. The company has already engineered press campaigns for the artist that proved premature. D'Angelo further frustrated Virgin officials by taking time off from his own work to do collaborations with Lauryn Hill, Heavy D and Method Man.

A representative of the artist's management says that the album should be done early this week for October release.

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AGE-ISM: Afraid that pop culture has passed you by? Check out the DJ Nation feature on http://www.den.net, the ambitious cybertainment vehicle of the new Digital Entertainment Network (the company that John Silva and Gary Gersh recently aligned with).

An accessory feature of the program dealing with deejay culture and the dance music world is a survey you can take to determine what sort of dance music events suit your tastes. Questions include fashion sense (baggy pants and a T-shirt? Suit and tie?), what kind of dance activity you like (jumping up and down? Banging your head at the speakers?), and one that asks you to add your age to the total of years you have been in the working world.

Only one problem--no matter what else you check, if the age plus work total is anything more than 40, the same assessment comes up in the form of this deflating couplet: "The breakbeatin' and hip-hop forms you might have seen / but you definitely aren't playin' the scene."

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