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[EXCLUSIVE] Will Movie Theater Event Help Save Sinbad’s Sinking Ship?

Angie Frissore

Turning movie theaters into comedy clubs across the U.S. this summer, NCM Fathom Events and New Wave Entertainment present the first in a series of comedy specials with “SINBAD: Make Me Wanna Holla,” an exclusive cinema event in select theaters on Thursday, August 22 at 8:00 p.m. local time. The one-night event features a riotous performance by the one and only Sinbad featuring his stand-up routine that covers hilarious observations —from the life advice his parents gave him, to why he is tired of people with no talent having clothing lines, as well as explaining who he “really” is.

While the move by New Wave and NCM Fathom Events encompasses much more than just Sinbad’s return to the stage, one can’t help but see the real reasons behind the comedian’s nation-wide, one-day theatrical special. You see, for the second time in four years, Sinbad is broke, and filed for bankruptcy back in April.

Just days after the comedian announced his financial troubles, NCM Fathom Events announced a new agreement with New Wave Entertainment to present a series of comedy specials in select movie theaters nationwide beginning with the August 22 showing of Sinbad’s special. New Wave Entertainment, the premiere producer of stand-up comedy specials, specializes in emerging and established comedic talent and has produced original releases for HBO, Comedy Central, Showtime, Epix and Netflix including specials for Craig Ferguson, Aziz Ansari, Jim Gaffigan, Bill Burr, Rob Schneider, Whitney Cummings, Dave Foley, Brian Posehn, Bob Saget, D.L. Hughley and more.

“New Wave is very excited to be working with Fathom Events in a way that will bring comedy specials to an even larger audience,” said Brian Volk-Weiss, head of production for New Wave Entertainment.

While the planned comedy event series will feature some of the biggest names in stand-up, one has to wonder how someone billed as ‘a 90’s comedian’ garners enough demand to kick off such an undertaking. Timing is everything, and the news of Sinbad’s bankruptcy does little to dispel the feeling that his new special is a last-ditch attempt to save his financial future – and it will be curious to see how his fan base reacts to this knowledge.

Citing the desire to make stand-up comedy more readily available to the masses, Shelly Maxwell, executive vice president for NCM Fathom Events, states:  “Experiencing great stand-up comedy doesn’t have to be restricted to comedy clubs. Audiences will soon be able to experience the excitement and spontaneity of live stand-up in their local movie theaters.”

There is one key component missing from Maxwell’s thought process, however, and that is the question of just how spontaneous a projected comedy special can actually get – part of the thrill of comedy clubs is the live interaction an audience gets with the performer. A headlining act will feed off of the crowd’s energy – something that, often times, can make or break a particular set.  Will audiences get the same rush from attending a one-sided performance at which the headliner isn’t even physically there?

Ultimately, I’m pulling for Sinbad and this new venture. TMZ reported that Sinbad owed a debt of approximately $11 million, $8 million of which included owed money in back taxes. The 90’s sitcom star claims in the filing that he rakes in only $16,000 per month and owns just $131,000 in assets. But Sinbad, who faced similar financial woes in 2009, isn’t exactly living a highfaluting lifestyle. In March 2013, the comedian told Oprah: “I didn’t buy Bentleys. I didn’t live large. I invested in me. I invested in a lot of other people. I would not change it; I would not go back. It’s never over. There’s no one defining moment that kills you or makes you.”

Fathom Events is a leader in the alternative entertainment industry, offering a variety of one-of-a-kind entertainment events in movie theaters nationwide since 2002 including live, high-definition performances of the Metropolitan Opera, sports, music, Broadway and many other unique entertainment presentations. This agreement with New Wave Entertainment represents the latest expansion of Fathom Events’ comedy programming that also includes a clean comedy series with Clean Guys Entertainment, announced earlier this year.