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Prosecutor to Seek Probe of Planned 'Christmas Carol'
Saturday October 8, 1994
A Los Angeles city prosecutor said Friday that she will ask police to check out claims about a proposed Pasadena stage show by a man with a history of consumer fraud convictions, including one for promoting a bogus theatrical production in the San Fernando Valley.
Deputy City Atty. Ruth Kwan said that because of Kevin Von Feldt's record of aborted efforts and disappointed ticket buyers, "We will certainly closely scrutinize his conduct."
Kwan, who heads her office's consumer protection division, said she would ask Los Angeles police detectives to determine whether Von Feldt's newspaper ads for the Nov. 15-20 staging of "A Christmas Carol" at the Raymond Theater have been truthful. The ads tout stars Shirley Jones, Patrick McGoohan, Brian Keith and Michael Tucker.
Von Feldt has been advertising $20 to $35 tickets for the holiday classic, although he has yet to secure a crucial Actors' Equity Assn. contract, the union's director said this week. Meanwhile, other sources said Friday that Von Feldt plans to use backdrops, props and a taped narration by Sir John Gielgud that he never fully paid for.
The eminent British actor is owed about $60,000 for a tape recording made in 1992 for a Von Feldt production that failed before it could open at the Scottish Rite Temple in Los Angeles, said Gielgud's New York attorney, J. Stephen Sheppard.
Newspaper ads and promotional flyers for the Pasadena run of the play--which is supposed to launch an eight-city tour--have touted "narration by Sir John Gielgud" while omitting the fact that it is recorded.
Sheppard said that he did not know about the current effort, but that Von Feldt used Gielgud's tape without permission to promote another failed "Christmas Carol" last year.
Asked about the statement, Von Feldt said Friday, "Well, that's in dispute." He refused further comment.
Another creditor, meanwhile, said that under the terms of a judgment against Von Feldt last year in Los Angeles Superior Court, he is owed $50,000 for stage sets built in 1992. The same judgment awarded more than $200,000 to one of Von Feldt's backers on that production.
Set builder Marc Saget of Burbank said he finally won possession of the sets after suing Von Feldt, and he questioned how "A Christmas Carol" could open in Pasadena without them.
Von Feldt, 44, was convicted in 1991 of one count of untrue and misleading advertising after the Los Angeles city attorney's office accused him of promoting four Broadway hits at North Hollywood's fading El Portal Theatre without securing contracts with Actors' Equity or his stars. He received three years probation, was fined more than $1,700 and was ordered to pay restitution to ticket buyers.
In 1987, he pleaded no contest to 10 counts of untrue and misleading advertising in two ticket-selling scams and was sentenced to a year in County Jail.