The first issue of the new glossy magazine version of Backstage, launched on Aug. 30, 2012.
|Based in||New York City and Los Angeles|
Backstage is an entertainment-industry brand aimed at people working in film and the performing arts, with a special focus on casting, job opportunities, and career advice.
Backstage publishes a weekly tabloid-sized trade magazine in the U.S. (Backstage) and a bimonthly digest sized resource directory (Call Sheet) that cover the entertainment industry from the perspective of performers (singers, dancers, comedians, etc.), the performance unions (SAG, Actors' Equity Association, AFTRA, AGVA, AGMA, the American Federation of Musicians, etc.), casting directors, agents, writers, directors, and, in particular, actors.
Backstage also publishes related newsletters, produces industry trade shows (such as Actorfest), and hosts various panels and screenings, along with running multiple websites, including Backstage.com, Call Sheet Online (formerly known as RossReports.com), Blog Stage, Espresso, Backstage Unscripted, The Backstage 411 Casting FAQ, The Backstage Message Boards, and the weekly Backstage Digital Edition magazine. Backstage Books is an imprint of Watson-Guptill.
Backstage (the company) was founded by Allen Zwerdling and Ira Eaker in New York City in December 1960. Zwerdling and Eaker had worked together for years as editor and advertising director, respectively, of the Show Business casting newspaper, which was founded by Leo Shull as Actor's Cues in 1941. After Zwerdling and Eaker left Show Business they looked into creating a casting section within the Village Voice newspaper; but, having been turned down, they decided to launch Backstage on their own.
At the time of its founding, Backstage (the newsmagazine) was primarily a casting paper for New York actors intended to compete with Show Business Weekly. It gradually broadened its scope to include coverage of New York's television commercial production industry and a variety of performing arts, the former of which proved to be so lucrative advertising-wise that the commercial production beat came to dominate the publication. Its reach began to slowly spread across the U.S., though the largest portion of its readership remained on the East Coast.
Owing to the disparity between its main areas of coverage—a focus on casting and entertainment-industry job opportunities, general coverage of the performing arts (acting, legitimate theatre, cabaret, etc.), and its expanding coverage of the commercial production market—Backstage eventually incorporated the film and video production elements into a weekly pull-out section called Backstage Shoot, a sort of mini-publication with a special focus on the commercials industry.
Then, in 1975, Backstage opened a Los Angeles bureau and began to more actively extend its editorial coverage across the U.S., with correspondents based in Florida, Chicago, London, and other key entertainment-industry-centric areas added to the Backstage roster over the years.
In 1986, Backstage was bought by Billboard Publications Inc. (BPI), owner of such publications as Billboard (magazine). In 1988, BPI bought The Hollywood Reporter. Backstage and The Hollywood Reporter, along with a few other related brands, were grouped together within BPI, becoming its film and performing arts division.
Interestingly, although The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, and Backstage each covers distinct areas of the entertainment industry, they were (and are) all competitors to Variety (magazine) to some degree.
Backstage Shoot 
On July 6, 1990, Backstage Shoot was spun off into a full, standalone publication, SHOOT. The concept was to have Backstage concentrate on actors, performing artists, and theatre, while SHOOT would continue to "serve the news and information needs of creative and production decision-makers at ad agencies, and executives & artisans in the production industry" (according to their official press materials found on ShootOnline.com). To emphasize the change, the official Backstage tagline "The complete service weekly for the communications and entertainment industry" was switched to "The Performing Arts Weekly."
Ross Reports 
Around this time, Backstage acquired the New York-based Ross Reports publication, which compiled information on casting directors, agents, managers, production companies, and upcoming film and television productions.
In early 1994, Netherlands-based company VNU bought Backstage owner BPI. VNU eventually came to own a variety of trade publications — including Mediaweek and Adweek — along with measurement company Nielsen Media Research.
Backstage West 
Also in early 1994, Backstage hired a West Coast editor-in-chief, Rob Kendt, to help create a new publication, Backstage West, a weekly trade paper similar to the New York-based Backstage but with a special focus on the West Coast acting community and casting opportunities based in California. At the time, despite past efforts, Backstage was still popular primarily in the Northeast U.S.
Then, in 1997, BackStage.com was founded, which combined content from Backstage and Backstage West with selected news articles from The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard and original online-only content intended to reach a larger, international audience.
And in May 1998, Backstage bought its chief LA competitor, Drama-Logue.
The Drama-Logue company was founded by Bill Bordy in 1969 as a casting hotline, and in 1972 it became a weekly trade publication entitled The Hollywood Drama-Logue Casting Sheet, commonly known simply as Drama-Logue. Before the end of 1998, Drama-Logue's holdings were fully integrated into BackStage.com and Backstage West, which for a time became known as Backstage West/Drama-Logue. However, the Drama-Logue brand name was slowly phased out.
Beginning in the late 1990s, a number of casting (performing arts) information and entertainment job websites began cropping up, offering specialized online tools for actors, performers, and models, including online casting submission systems and video-enhanced resumes. Backstage.com was a leader in taking the casting industry online. Its early products included a paid member's area, which charged $9.95 per month for unlimited access to casting calls in both New York and Los Angeles. Starting in 2000, the Member's Area also included a profile in the Headshot/Resume Database, which was among the earliest online tools for actors and casting directors.
BackStage.com published hundreds of casting notices every week. In addition to content from Back Stage and Back Stage West, the site included original news stories, feature articles and reviews. During this time period, several competitors challenged the brand, but it remained the industry leader. The competition eventually sparked major changes in Backstage's development, and in October 2005 Backstage relaunched its print and online publications in order to regain its edge.
During this 2005 relaunch process, all Backstage publications were redesigned (including Backstage West); various staffing changes took place; the East Coast/New York edition of Backstage was renamed Backstage East; BackStage.com began publishing more articles on a daily basis and introduced more exclusive editorial content, blogs, feeds, and tools; and Casting.BackStage.com was founded, giving BackStage.com users access to advanced casting/job search, sort, and alert tools, along with a searchable talent database featuring resumes, pictures, video reels, and audio reels of thousands of working and aspiring actors and performers.
Around this same time, the primary Backstage tagline changed from "The Performing Arts Weekly" to "The Actor's Resource." A secondary branding slogan, "Casting You Can Trust — Since 1960" was also added and given prominent placement both on Backstage.com and on the front covers of the weekly East Coast and West Coast newspaper/magazine versions of Backstage. And sister publication SHOOT (and ShootOnline.com) was sold to another publishing company.
In 2006, a company called Valcon Acquisition B.V., run by a private equity group consortium, bought VNU, making Valcon the new owner of Backstage and all other VNU holdings. Then, on January 18, 2007, VNU rebranded itself The Nielsen Company, with its trade-publication division being renamed Nielsen Business Media.
In early 2007, publisher Steve Elish retired from Backstage after 34 years. However, founder Ira Eaker's daughter, former longtime Backstage editor-in-chief Sherry Eaker, carries on her father's work as Backstage's editor at large.
In October 2008, Backstage East and Backstage West were permanently combined into a single weekly publication with an expanded national focus. This new "national edition" was given the same name as the original 1960 edition: Backstage.
In early 2009, Ross Reports was renamed Call Sheet by Backstage.
As of early 2010, principals at Backstage included national casting editor Luke Crowe, vice president/general manager Jeff Black, national editor-in-chief Jamie Painter Young, executive editors David Sheward (in New York) and Dany Margolies (in Los Angeles), national film and television editor Jenelle Riley, and managing website editor Tom Penketh, among others.
The Backstage brand is still closely tied to its primary sister publications, The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard, as well as the other e5 Global Media publications. However, Backstage has also carved out its own industry niche by publishing directories (such as Call Sheet, a bimonthly listing of talent agents, casting directors, and film productions), books (actor handbooks and biographies published under the Watson-Guptill imprint Backstage Books), casting-director mailing labels, and special "insert" magazines (such as award-season nomination guides, theatre-school guides, and the ACTion magazine for actors interested in making their own movies).
Backstage continues to be a resource for audition information, casting calls/casting notices, training opportunities, and entertainment-industry jobs, news, and interviews. Film and theatre are the main topics reviewed and reported upon, but the television, radio, dance, music, cabaret, voice-over, modeling, commercial advertising, and stand-up comedy industries are also included in Backstage's coverage.
In October 2011, media entrepreneur John Amato led Backstage through a spin off from Prometheus Global Media as part of a new strategic partnership, with the new company being called Backstage, LLC.
In August 2012, Backstage was relaunched again, changing its name from Back Stage (two words) to Backstage (one word), updating its logo and branding, completely rebuilding its website, and changing its print edition from a weekly tabloid-sized newspaper to a weekly full-color glossy magazine.
Backstage hosts and produces the semi-annual Actorfest trade show (an entertainment-industry networking event held once in NYC and once in LA every year); the annual Backstage West Garland Awards honoring the California theatre scene; the annual Bistro Awards honoring the cabaret industry, especially NYC-based cabaret; and the ongoing and bi-coastal An Evening With ... series that combines film screenings with Q&A sessions featuring key actors and directors from each film being shown.
Additionally, Backstage sponsors numerous events and panels for talent working in the fields of film, television, commercials, radio/voice-overs, theatre, dance, modeling, and club talent (comedians, singers, etc.). Its "Successful Actor" panel series is done in partnership with the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
- McElroy, Steven (26 January 2009). "Allen Zwerdling, Theater Journalist, Dies at 86". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 January 2009.
- Crowe, Luke (24 October 2008). "The New Backstage National Edition: More Casting — From Across the U.S.". Blog Stage. Retrieved 24 October 2008.
- A Backstage editor's verification of this Wikipedia Article
- Backstage Online
- Backstage Casting
- Backstage on YouTube
- Backstage on LinkedIn
- Backstage on Facebook
- Backstage on Twitter
- About Backstage: History, Masthead, and More Info
- All About SHOOT Magazine
- Drama-Logue Sells Assets to Backstage West
- Billboard Buys Hollywood Reporter
- Backstage Splits into Backstage / SHOOT
- Nielsen Business Media
- Backstage Co-Founder Ira Eaker Dies
- Backstage Co-Founder Allen Zwerdling Dies
- Backstage Gets a Makeover
- Publisher Steve Elish Retires
- Jeff Black Named Vice President/General Manager
- Leo Shull's Show Business
- Show Business Weekly
- Backstage launches new Digital Editions
- BackStage.com wins the Folio Magazine 2009 Eddie Award for best "Business to Business, Media/Entertainment/Publishing, Website"
- Nielsen Sells Backstage, Hollywood Reporter, Billboard
- The Hollywood Reporter's Parent Company, Prometheus, Selling Backstage
- Prometheus Global Media, Investor Group Strike Alliance for Backstage
- Backstage Celebrates 50th Anniversary