In celebration of Mother’s Day, PETER TROMP chatted to entertainment industry heavyweights HAZEL and TONY FELDMAN of Showtime Events, one of the biggest producers of local shows and international talent in South Africa. This is one dynamic mother and son duo.
What are the chief qualities you would say is required of one to reach the top in the entertainment field, like you have?
A very thick skin and a passion for the entertainment business.
Is there any showcase you produced, or act you brought out to South Africa that you’re particularly proud of?
Many, I am pleased to say. Regarding musicals produced here in South Africa, I’d say ‘Chicago’, ‘We Will Rock You’, ‘Dreamgirls’ and ‘Jersey Boys’. As for concerts, Pavarotti, The Rolling Stones; The Three Tenors’, Queen, Frank Sinatra and Elton John rank the highest.
Tony joined Showtime Management in 2004. In what ways did he energise the company since joining?
He brought his contemporary energy with a knowledge of modern marketing, which I did not have. His knowledge of the new music world opened opportunities for us.
When did you first notice that Tony showed entrepreneurial and organisational skills?
From the time he joined me. He has always been self-motivated.
What has been the most memorable Mother’s Day you’ve enjoyed so far?
Whenever the whole family is together – that makes it Mother’s Day for me. Both my sons have always ensured we have a Mother’s Day brunch whenever the family is in the same town, which is not often.
What advice do you have for parents involved in family businesses who might be working with their children?
Know from the outset that it is not going to be easy. And try to distinguish when it is time for you to be the boss or business partner – or a parent.
You joined your mother’s company Showtime Management in 2004, after enjoying success with Aqua Online, an online web development and multimedia company. What prompted the decision?
I basically grew up in the excitement of the live music industry. It was always in my blood, and from an early age I felt it was an industry that I always wanted to be a part of. Haze, my mom, tried to discourage me, but I eventually took the plunge and jumped feet first into the business. I didn’t begin working in the industry with Showtime. Together with some friends I started promoting club shows and we eventually landed our first international act, Blackalicious. During that time I was working out of Showtime’s offices and that’s when myself and Haze started discussing further projects. It basically happened organically.
Is there any showcase you were involved in producing, or act you helped bring to South Africa that you’re particularly proud of?
There are a number. The 2010 FIFA Kick Off Concert was definitely a highlight. It happened during one of the most incredible, exciting periods in SA’s history and it was great to be involved with it in some way. The show was extremely challenging, with over 30 acts, 200 performers, a three hour live broadcast to over 1 billion people internationally and with a huge number of heads of states and celebrities attending, added with the intricacies of dealing with the FIFA and Government hierarchies – this was just one monumental event. It went ahead flawlessly.
I have been especially proud of the level of professionalism and talent we have helped build in the theatre industry with shows like ‘Jersey Boys’, ‘Chicago’ and ‘Dreamgirls’ being top class and could easily have been on stages in Broadway and The West End.
Share with us a thing or two about your mother that people might be surprised to know.
If she wasn’t in this business she could have been the world’s first female F1 champion. And she can whip up a mean pastrami sandwich.
What special significance does Mother’s Day hold in your family?
Not much – every day is Mother’s Day. How’s that for cheesy?
What effect, if any, has being business partners with your mother had on your relationship?
It definitely has brought us closer. From a personal perspective it is incredible to have a partner that you know you can trust 100% and who has your back. It is sometimes very difficult to separate the boundaries of mother and partner, but we are both very realistic, down to earth people and I’m always very aware that she is first and foremost my mom.
What can we expect next from Showtime Management in Cape Town?
‘Disney On Ice’ in July and the Ultra Music Festival – 2nd Edition in February of 2015.