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Steve Walter and Chris Noth, co-founders and partners of The Cutting Room, joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the reopening of The Cutting Room, outlook on live music post-pandemic, and the reopening of NYC.
- You know our next guest best for his iconic TV role was Mr, Big on the HBO hit "Sex and the City" and on the long-running series "Law and Order" and "The Good Wife." What you may not know is that actor Chris Noth is also an entrepreneur. That's right-- he is co-owner of the New York City music venue The Cutting Room. And he joins us now with his partner at the club, Steve Walter.
Hey, guys. Good to see you both. Thanks for being with us. Chris, I want to start with you. When you first heard that you were able to reopen The Cutting Room for the first time during the pandemic, what was that like for you? And what does it mean for live music in the city?
CHRIS NOTH: Oh, wow. It was a big relief. And, you know, live music in the city has-- even before the pandemic-- has taken a big hit, I think, due to financials and the price of running a venue in Manhattan. So it already had taken a big hit, so the fact that we were able to survive the pandemic-- also, we are blessed to have the person who owns the building have patience. And he happens to be a music fan. So we were lucky. A lot of places weren't so lucky.
- Steve, I want to come to you for this. And Chris is kind of touching on some of the changes that really happened in live music even prior to the pandemic. And I think so many people, especially since the pandemic hit, has said how so many things are just never going to be the same, how so many industries are permanently changed. Curious to know how you see live music being changed after the pandemic. Or do you think it's going to go right back to how it was back in March 2020 and in January and February 2020 and before the pandemic ever hit?
STEVE WALTER: Well, there will also be some good changes-- gives us little guys a chance because they can't play the Garden and all that-- the big audiences-- because the tours weren't set. So we can get some large acts that couldn't-- that wouldn't play a room this small. So some good things from it. It's always been hard for artists to live in Manhattan now because it's so expensive. So there's no artist community like there used to be. So that's one change.
But also all these big bands are going out at one time. They're going to be tripping over each other at the airport. So people don't have $1,000 to see all these major bands this summer that are all going out because they're dying to get out there again. So it's going to be more big change. So it's going to be interesting to see what happens.
But we're getting so many calls from bands and events and things. It's been great. And I'm so happy to be back because I really miss this staff. They're like family. So it's been a thrill to be back here again.
CHRIS NOTH: But just to add to what Steve was saying, I do-- I think it's a question mark because when you think of all the venues that have disappeared-- The Bottom Line, CBGB's, to name just two of the most famous. And there are a lot of smaller ones that-- somehow the city kind of got encrusted by big corporate money. But it didn't translate, to my mind, to the smaller arts and venues as much as it should have.
And I would hope-- I've always hoped that, when there's an empty space, that the city wouldn't give the tax breaks, so that when someone-- a small business-- comes in and they are willing to rent at a reasonable price, they give it to them instead of waiting for a bank or a drugstore to take it who have all the money in the world.
- I'm curious how you guys are dealing with getting people back into the venue. I mean, we heard today that the Springsteen show on Broadway is not allowing people in who have been given the AstraZeneca vaccine, you know. So there are all these different rules. It's confusing for a lot of folks-- if you're vaxxed, if you're unvaxxed do you need an antigen test for COVID-19? Steve, I'll throw this one your way. What are you asking of people when they come to the venue?
STEVE WALTER: Well, the restrictions were lifted yesterday. So it's back to normal, you know, unless you're a massive venue. But everything's back to normal now, thank God, yesterday. He lifted everything.
CHRIS NOTH: Yeah, I mean, we go with what the CDC says. And if they're going to open it, we're going to trust that if someone knows they're infected, they're not going to be out in the public. And that most people in New York have been vaccinated. And, you know, things do happen. People do get sick and get the flu, too. But right now, with the vaccinations the way they are, we are sort of trusting that the CDC is reliable.
STEVE WALTER: Right. If you're not vaccinated, wear a mask.
CHRIS NOTH: Yeah, that's what we hope to ensure.
- Now, I want to switch gears here just for a minute and talk about the film and TV industry, which we know was hit especially hard during the pandemic. Chris, you're going to be reprising your role as Mr. Big in the "Sex and the City" sequel series "Just Like That." We are looking forward to it. When does filming start and how do you feel about getting back to it and being back with the gang?
CHRIS NOTH: Oh, I feel great. I was-- I said in another interview I was at first hesitant. It was a little bit of a sort of creative negotiation because I didn't really feel I had anything to offer in that role again. It kind of felt like I had done it.
But Michael Patrick King is just an incredible writer and has incredible creative ideas. And once we got together and talked about the potential of what we could do with the character, I was all in. I'm just happy. I just-- I was riding my Metro bike down here. And I saw film trucks on the Avenue-- on Third Avenue-- and I was like, yeah, that's great, getting back. It just feels like we're-- the city's back. And film has started-- I mean, we filmed "The Equalizer" toward the end of the pandemic and we had very strict rules and it worked. It worked out. You know, mask wearing and testing every day. So there was massive protection before we could work, and-- in terms of being tested before and after, and if you were flying in, you had to be tested.
And so it really probably cost the studios and networks a lot of money to do that. And I think that now things are getting back to normal. And I look forward to it.
- So, Steve, obviously, Chris highlighting just as an artist what it's like to really get back to work, get back to doing what a lot of folks love. I'm curious to know what you're hearing from artists, the musicians, about your reopening-- if they've just been sitting and resting on their laurels, if they're looking forward, excited to come back to a smaller venue. And in terms of hiring, how is that going? We hear so many companies saying they are struggling to find workers, even though they might have had to lay several off throughout the pandemic. How is that process going for you?
STEVE WALTER: We've been really lucky. Almost everybody is back, I'm thrilled to say. We can use a few more in the kitchen, but generally, everybody's back. So I'm very fortunate there. Musicians are dying to play. They're all calling. It's incredible how quickly the calendar is filling up.
So, yeah, everything's back to normal. It's just great. And there's been some big bands, which I can't talk about right now, that are coming to play here, which I'm really excited about. And we're also getting a lot of filming. We've just had a couple last week for TV shows and things, and bands live on our stage, so that's great.
CHRIS NOTH: We do a lot of benefits here. I raise money for Rainforest Action Network and I want to do a benefit for Greenpeace. And it's just a great venue. And we've had some-- Shawn Colvin came and sang. And-- God, the original one was with Norah Jones.
But, you know, there's such creative wealth that it just needs a place like The Cutting Room to find-- for these people to find a place to be and to express themselves. Because even though I feel that New York got sort of crushed by money in a weird kind of way, in terms of little venues like ours being available to people-- because there's great music out there. They just need a place to come to be able to play their music. And that was our original philosophy because we love music. We grew up in the '70s and '80s and late '60s and that's how our love for music was formed.
STEVE WALTER: It was everything.
- Yeah, sort of the soundtrack of our lives, right? I mean, I've been to The Cutting Room. It's an awesome lounge. I actually had my high school reunion there a few years back and that was a blast. But before we let you guys go, Chris, I know that Broadway-- you've done your share of theater, as well. And Broadway is coming back mid-September. We're doing a Broadway special here at Yahoo Finance. What do you think it means, not just for the Broadway community but for New York City, the fact that Broadway is going to come back?
CHRIS NOTH: Oh, well, it's huge. Although, if you go to Times Square, you'll see that it's packed with people looking at neon. But Broadway is the backbone of tourism in New York is the way I feel about it. And it's sort of how the Big Apple identifies itself in many ways. So I can't state how important that is. And I'm sure most New Yorkers will agree.
We really are waiting with bated breath to get back in the theater and find a way to see the shows again. It's been very, very hard on people in the unions and the costume and the set directors and actors and musicians. It's been very, very difficult for them. And we do a little theater here, by the way, also.
STEVE WALTER: Oh, yeah, a lot of Monday nights, when the theater's dark, they have side projects. We do a lot of Broadway stuff. We have Ben Vereen tonight.
CHRIS NOTH: Plus, I have to mention that The Cutting Room-- I have a tequila called Ambhar. And we are now-- our official tequila at The Cutting Room is Ambhar for those of you who like tequila.
- Naturally, right? You are quite the entrepreneur, Chris. So listen, guys--
CHRIS NOTH: Well, I-- Steve is the captain of this ship, you know. Sometimes I may be the face because I'm better known, but without Steve this place wouldn't be around. He really is the backbone of everything that this place represents. So I'm very grateful to him.
STEVE WALTER: Thank you.
CHRIS NOTH: And please, come. Come! You guys-- we want to see you over here.
- Alexis and I are going to have a date together.
- We're coming, we're excited. I'm so psyched. I'm very psyched that you are-- Kristin, you and I are going to go. I don't think you've been to the club.
- We are.
- We're going to go. It's called The Cutting Room. Check it out, folks, if you're in the city. Chris Noth, Steve Walter-- good luck to you guys. Thanks a lot for being here.
STEVE WALTER: Thank you so much.
CHRIS NOTH: Thank you for having us. Thank you.
STEVE WALTER: I'll see you over tequila.