Britney Spears Enterprises, if there is such a thing, has assembled a dazzling "Circus" tour, but it's painfully evident that they don't want press coverage.
In Pittsburgh, they almost didn't get it, partly due to their own stubbornness and partly because of Britney's crazy-bad luck rubbing off on me.
Here's how it went:
-- First of all, there were no interviews or teleconferences with the print media, at least, to promote the tour, even though it would have been a chance for Britney to talk about something positive for once. (In truth, reporters would have tortured her.)
-- Unlike 99 percent of the acts that come to town, they demanded the critic buy a ticket, in the top-level, $130 range (but didn't guarantee one would be available). A lot of papers seemed to balk at the purchase, because there haven't been a lot of reviews. The PG decided we wanted the review and sent the form back on Tuesday with the credit card number. We got our confirmation that the ticket was approved -- no sooner than 2:15 on Friday, the day of the show.
-- We were offered a photo pass. However, the release form stated that our photographer was "for hire." In other words, we could run photos for 30 days, and then they were Britney's property. We had to give up the copyright. Even though it would have been nice to have a picture in Saturday's paper, our photo department refuses to sign such a contract. Apparently, so have most papers.
-- Somehow I managed to compound these problems with my own stupidity. I picked up my ticket at the window. No problem. Glanced at it quickly. Walked toward Igloo Club One East, where I checked the basketball score (looked real bad for Syracuse; my bracket had Oklahoma; fine).
I figured I'd get rid of the ticket envelope. So I stuck the receipt ticket in my wallet, pitched the envelope. And somehow lost my ticket in the process! I dug through all my pockets three times and even fished around in the nasty trashcan, which no doubt made me look like a bum (in my Ramones shirt) to all the hot girls standing at the bar. In 20-some years of covering concerts, I don't remember ever losing a ticket.
I remembered it being in Row G, seat 8, and the usher reluctantly let me sit there. Till the girls who had those seats showed. Finally, I texted Jamie, the sweet arena publicist, and she graciously helped me out. I was actually in Igloo One WEST, Row G, seat 8.
-- So, wanting to get the review in by 11:30, I wrote about two-thirds of it while staring at Britney and her eye-opening circus entourage. After hearing a few minutes of the last song, "Womanizer," I ran out the door about 10:55. Even though I've never done this before, it occurred to me to call my wife and dictate the review while I ran in the rain to my car down on 5th Avenue. She agreed to it, even though she was still dealing with kids (thanks Mare). When I got to the PG at 11:07, the partial review was in my email. I pasted it into the word file, smoothed things out, added some more stuff, and was done around 11:20. Cool. Went to hit save and send and -- poof! -- like the lady in the box, it was gone. The whole review. I'm not a crying man, but I was close to it. I swore instead. After 15 minutes of trying to revive it with the technical guys, I pasted the email back in and started again. It wasn't as smooth, but I think they got it about 11:55.
-- Whew! I wish the best for Britney, but I kind of hope she chills for another five or six years before she comes back to town.