It is "unfortunate" that Emmy and Golden Globe-winning stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld's maiden shows here had to be cancelled due to last minute traffic and parking related issues, says a representative of the show's organising body Only Much Louder (OML).
The official announcement of the cancellation of the performances, which were scheduled to take place at the Sardar Vallabhai Patel Stadium, National Sports Club of India (NSCI) here on Saturday and Sunday, came from the organisers on Friday.
Explaining the turn of events, Vijay Nair, CEO, OML, told IANS: “Everything was going on track until Wednesday, when we got a call from the local police station saying that they're not going to give the event a license because there are some parking issues and they've decided that shows can't be given permission at NSCI."
The cancellation of the license came as a result of the increased pressure on the Mumbai traffic police after a major fracas that took place on March 1, when Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' convoy reportedly held up traffic outside NSCI as he was on his way there for a political event.
“...Police had to re-think licensing of events at this venue. However, the first time we were told about this issue was on March 11. We did everything we could to come up with solutions, including offering to book additional parking and doing the show at 3 p.m. so that traffic would be minimal.
“However, this was not satisfactory for the authorities and we were told that the event would not get a license,” Nair added.
The organisers, who have previously organised events like the AIB Knockout and Russell Peter's performance in India last month, were forced to call up Seinfeld and cancel the event.
“...On the night of March 11, a few hours before the artist’s crew were scheduled to get on a flight, we called them and cancelled the show. The private jet which was booked for the artist was also cancelled,” he said.
Just as OML was about to go public with the cancellation, Nair got a call from the authorities on Thursday and was called for a meeting. Due to the involvement of an international star, the authorities decided to give the go ahead since a last minute cancellation would reflect badly on the country.
This was, however, not possible since the logistical arrangements couldn't be made to get Seinfeld here in time.
“Since this would be a last minute cancellation, the authorities were trying to help us with a plan to let this weekend’s events go on... Having cancelled the performance with the artist already, we did our best to re-book a charter and look at every possible option to get them here on time.
“Unfortunately, with all our travel arrangements changed, parking slots cancelled and crew being re-assigned, it became impossible to make this work... It was just too late. In short, we were trying to arrange what took us a month the first time around, in 12 hours time,” Nair said.
Although the cancellation of Seinfeld's performance cost OML an estimated $2 million, the comedian's manager and agents were very supportive towards the organisers following the cancellation.
“I was coordinating with Jerry's manager and agents and they were really supportive and understanding but the entire turn of events was unfortunate. Our loss is going to cross about $2 million,” said Nair.
The capacity at the venue was for 3500 occupants per day and, according to Nair, all but 80 tickets were sold out for the first show and a 170 odd remained for the second day.
Fans who purchased tickets for the shows will be issued a full refund by March 25. Details about the same have been e-mailed to all ticket buyers and a special helpline will be in operation from Monday onwards to address any queries that fans might have.
Seinfeld's comedy career took off after his first appearance on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" in 1981 and he later became the man behind comedy series "Seinfeld".