Broadway.com editor in chief Paul Wontorek sits in a comfy white chair in the middle of the website’s video production room in its Times Square offices. Amid professional lighting and expensive video cameras, a shiny blue curtain hangs. It acts as a backdrop for “Show People,” a new video series Broadway.com launched in December, in which Wontorek interviews A-list Broadway actors in talk-show format. He stares at it and looks proud. Wontorek has a right to feel that way. Last December, statistics on theatergoers gathered by The Broadway League revealed Broadway.com as the most-viewed source for people seeking theater information, beating out The New York Times. Also in December, the site was bought by Key Brand Entertainment, a leading producer of Broadway shows and national tours.
This week marks 11 years Wontorek has helmed Broadway.com. Wontorek, 38, sat down with Stage Rush to discuss the inner workings of Broadway.com, his personal road to Broadway, and the harmful disconnect he sees between critics and ticket buyers.
The acquisition of Broadway.com by Key Brand Entertainment brings to light the story of how the first owner, Hollywood Media Corp., created the property. It was 1999 and the Internet landscape was dramatically different. (Playbill.com was still only available through AOL.) Hollywood Media Corp. bought the Broadway.com URL for $1.6 million. However, the company was based in Boca Raton, Florida, and Wontorek says the owners “didn’t really know Broadway.” Wontorek was brought in for an interview and was told that they didn’t know what Broadway.com needed to be.
“I knew exactly what it needed to be,” Wontorek said. Read more