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Rod Smith
 

'Siegfried & Roy at The Mirage': Show Officially Ends

14 October 2003

MGM Mirage officials dropped the final curtain on "Siegfried & Roy at The Mirage" Friday when they told the last 202 employees the show would not go on.

The dismissals came one week after illusionist Roy Horn was critically injured on stage by Montecore, his 600-pound white tiger.

One veteran employee of the popular Strip show who asked not to be named said he felt angry and hurt.

"It's not us they were concerned about," he said after being told of the terminations at one of two meetings MGM Mirage executives held with the show's workers on Friday.

The 13 1/2-year-old show was managed under a complicated agreement with Feld Entertainment, which produced the show and paid the performers.

Horn, who remained in critical condition Friday, and his stage partner, Siegfried Fischbacher, were business partners analogous to A-list movie stars who form their own production companies and retain executive producer credit for their films. MGM Mirage paid the stagehands and staff members, such as ushers and cocktail servers.

Altogether, 267 employees who worked with their show have been terminated since last week's incident. Sixty-five employees worked for Feld Entertainment and were let go last week.

The remaining 202 employees worked for MGM Mirage, 68 of them covered by the Culinary union contract and 134 non-union, MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman said at a Friday news conference that followed meetings with the affected workers.

The union contract covers workers at the Siegfried & Roy show and the Danny Gans show, and they will be retained in order of seniority. Thus, some Danny Gans workers are being laid off while some Siegfried & Roy employees are being transferred to Gans' show at The Mirage. Feldman did not know how many will be affected.

Feldman said no further staff reductions are expected because of the show's closure.

Feldman said union workers will be called back if another show starts up within six months, but he was not optimistic that would happen.

Feldman said the company has yet to consider how to replace the Siegfried & Roy show, and he said the company's future relationship with the duo has yet to be considered.

"The focus is still on Roy, our employees, and on being there to support Siegfried," Feldman said.

Terminated employees will be paid severance on a sliding scale. Workers with 10 years experience or more -- the bulk of the affected workers, according to Feldman -- will get six months salary and 60 days worth of benefits.

Employees leaving Friday's meetings with MGM Mirage executives, some tearful, declined to be quoted.

But Tiffany Bailey, a dancer with the show who was reached by telephone, was incredulous.

"I can't believe a billion-dollar company like this didn't have a plan. If I ran a multimillion-dollar business that depended on two leaders, I would (have a plan)," Bailey said. "That's a lot of people. I think it's sick. It's horrible. It's crazy to me."

Feldman said MGM Mirage had never made contingency plans for workers in case the Siegfried & Roy show ever closed. He did say, however, all of the show's laid off employees will be offered placement assistance, including an exclusive job fair next week.

The dismissals came just one week after Horn, who turned 59 last Friday, was mauled by a white tiger about 45 minutes into the duo's early evening show.

There were no major developments in his condition, but well wishers and fans continued to show their support, sending armloads of letters and cards to the hospital.

Hundreds of people also continued to stop at the makeshift tribute to the magician at The Mirage, the bronze statue of Horn and Fischbacher. They brought flowers and balloons and signed giant books to wish Horn a speedy recovery.

"We came here to bless Roy, so he can get well soon," said Melinda Chinen, a 9-year-old fan who was visiting Las Vegas from Hawaii with her family.

Melinda's mother, Susan, 43, said she and her husband were dazzled when they saw the duo perform 10 years ago.

"We just hope that one day our children can see it, too," she said.

Printed e-mail messages sent to Horn from around the world were strung across the railing by the statue.

"All of Mexico is praying for you," one read.

"You and Siegfried are my inspiration," read another, signed by "Germar the Magician," of Walnut Creek, Calif.

While media attention focused on the injured Horn, Wall Street analysts are expressing concern about the loss of the show on The Mirage and its holding company, MGM Mirage.

Deutsche Bank analyst Marc Falcone said the Siegfried & Roy show remained tremendously popular, playing to sold out audiences.

"We expect its loss will have an impact on that property's results. Since MGM Mirage's other shows are also typically sold out, it will be hard to make up the lost business at other properties, in our view," he said.

Feldman conceded Friday that the show's closure will adversely affect the financial performance of MGM Mirage.

"Obviously, this is going to have an impact, but we think we're going to be able to manage it," Feldman said.

The Mirage show opened Feb. 1, 1990, and ran for 5,750 performances for an estimated 10.5 million patrons,

The pair performed six shows weekly before capacity crowds of 1,504 paying an average of $110 each, including tax. They performed about 45 weeks per year, meaning Siegfried & Roy generated about $44.6 million in annual pretax ticket revenue.

Lehman Brothers casino analyst Joyce Minor estimated that MGM Mirage gets less than half the revenue from Siegfried & Roy ticket sales.

Still, Deutsche Bank estimated the impact on MGM Mirage earnings per share could be between 5 cents and 10 cents. Business interruption insurance could mitigate some of that impact, although UBS Warburg analyst Robin Farley said that was unlikely to cover any loss in incremental gaming revenues.

The show was scheduled to be dark from Nov. 26 to Dec. 25, so the impact will be felt less in the fourth quarter, Falcone said.

Feldman said the Secret Garden poolside animal attraction, the white tiger exhibit, the gift shops and the Lion Habitat at the MGM Grand will remain open, preserving some Siegfried & Roy-related revenue for the company.

Review-Journal writer Juliet V. Casey and Gaming Wire writer Jeff Simpson contributed to this report.