Rocco Landesman, theater producer, nominated as NEA chairman

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Rocco Landesman, a Broadway impresario known for his colorful personality and blunt candor, is the Obama administration’s top pick to lead the National Endowment for the Arts.

The White House said it has nominated Landesman for the position of chairman at the NEA, a post that was previously held by Dana Gioia. The formal announcement is expected to come Wednesday, according to a report in the New York Times.

Landesman, 61, is the president of Jujamcyn Theaters, which owns five Broadway houses. He is also a producer of a number of stage hits, including ‘Angels in America,’ ‘The Producers,’ ‘Jersey Boys’ and the current revival of ‘Hair.’

If approved by Congress, Landesman, a supporter of Obama during his presidential campaign, will oversee the biggest arts organization in the country, with a current budget of $145 million. In recent years, the NEA has been viewed by many as a passive dispenser of government funds.


On Broadway, Landesman has earned a reputation for his aggressive personality and eclectic pastimes. His passion for race horses is well known among colleagues, as is his taste for country music.

If approved, Landesman will take over from Patrice Walker Powell, who has served as interim chairwoman since February.

-- David Ng

Caption: Rocco Landesman in his Manhattan office. Credit: Joe Tabacca / For The Times