Today's post is from Wolf Trap's Director of Program and Production.
This is Peter Zimmerman – I spend my days here at Wolf Trap smilin’ and dialin’ and booking all the great pop artists at The Filene Center and The Barns at Wolf Trap. My team and I then make sure all these great shows go off without a hitch, at least without a hitch any of you in the audience would notice! I’ve been doing this a long time, but for the past 13 years here at Wolf Trap.
Each individual artist that passes through our venues is incredible to work with. But today I’ve been asked to talk about Bill Cosby. The Doctor has been performing at Wolf Trap since 1975. His June 2nd performance this summer will mark his 14th show at the Filene Center. I have many great stories regarding Mr. Cosby. I’ll share one with you regarding: hoagies, a train and an intern.
Now I know a lot of artists, but dealing with Mr. Cosby is different. I usually deal with an artist’s agent or manager up until show day, and then with their production and tour manager the day of the show. I always get to spend time with the artist themselves, but with the Dr. it’s a whole different story.
Except for the contract negotiations, and a few logistical items, Bill Cosby deals directly with me, no handlers, before, during and after the show. He calls my office or cell directly to make arrangements for guests and all sorts of other details, but most importantly…food! Not the food for him, but the food he is bringing to us each time he performs here.
For his 2007 performance, he brought me THE best hoagie sandwich I’ve ever had. They are from a place in Philly. In August of 2009, he brought Ben’s Chili Bowl Half Smokes and a bottle of Chardonnay for my wife. Bill was scheduled to perform at Wolf Trap in August of 2009. Well, in May of 2009 I answered my cell phone and no surprise to me, it’s the Coz and his artfully paced, instantly recognizable voice: “Z…, this is Bill Cosby. And what would you be doing... at this very moment in time?” Having lunch with my wife and son, I answered. “And what... would you be eating?” Mexican, I answered. He continued “Well Dr. Z... Imagine... if a man... were traveling by train... from Philly to DC this very evening... and he’s carrying a present... for a man at Wolf Trap named Z.” He was coming to town for some function in downtown DC, and he brought me hoagies from Philly again! Then he said “Put your wife on the phone” and they talked for a while (about wine, the Pie Pie Cosby bit, and various other things).
Well I couldn’t go downtown that evening to meet him. “…then send someone in your stead; one of your delightful assistants.” I don’t know if you all know, but Wolf Trap has one of the top and most exclusive internship programs in the country (the only not-for-profit company rated by Bloomsberg BusinessWeek in their Best Companies to Intern list). Our 2 interns had just started their internship that week – so I walk up to Liz and ask if she has plans that evening, she said yes, so I turned to Cate and asked her. She had no plans. “…well I have an errand for you to run downtown, I think you’ll enjoy it…it falls under other duties as assigned in your job description.” She did indeed enjoy the assignment, A LOT, and Mr. Cosby remembered her well when she worked the show with me in August of that year. Happy ending is that both Cate and Liz are now full time employees at Wolf Trap, Cate Padgett in our Education Department and Liz Uyeda in my department - Program & Production.
I could go on and on with stories about Bill Cosby- but my recommendation to you:
Leave this blog . Get your tickets now. If you have your tickets, tell some friends- his show is amazing and he WILL make you laugh out loud.