Corrections or additions?
These articles by Kathleen McGinn Spring and Michele Alperin were
prepared for the March 21, 2001
edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Help Wanted: Backstage
New Jersey’s professional theaters, non-profits all,
compete for talent not only with film studios, but also with
of all kinds. Offering less dramatic salaries in many cases, but also
a level of passion that few for-profits can match, New Jersey’s
are seeking any number of good men and women. On Saturday, March 24,
at 10 a.m. the New Jersey Theater Alliance, the statewide association
of professional, not-for-profit theaters whose mission is promoting
and developing professional theater in the state, holds its 15th
job fair at the State Theater on Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick.
Hoping to turn up technical, marketing, and administrative personnel
— but not actors, not this time — are more than 15 theaters,
including McCarter, the George Street Playhouse, the New Jersey
Festival, and Passage Theater.
While everyone knows that theaters employ actors, and most
are vaguely aware of box office attendants, ushers, and lighting
it takes many more specialties to keep the footlights bright.
fund raisers are increasingly important as ticket revenues typically
leave a 50 percent or more operating shortfall. Webmasters are in
demand too, and so are education directors, business managers, stage
managers, the company managers who are "responsible for the care
and feeding of actors," and the house managers who hire and
ushers and box office personnel.
"In this strong economy, it’s hard to find candidates," says
Wendy Liscow, NJTA’s director of programs and services.
want the same marketing directors that theaters need, and most are
able to pay more. Jobs at the top — technical director,
director, and production manager — are now the hardest to fill.
Competition for skilled lighting technicians, master electricians,
carpenters, and costume designers is fierce too. It comes not only
from Hollywood, Liscow says, but also from industrial video houses.
Compounding competition from organizations with fatter hiring budgets,
she says, is the fact that "people are not being trained for the
Given a lack of formal training programs, theaters often nurture their
own talent. Starting out as an intern is often the route to top jobs,
and theaters taking part in the job fair will be looking for interns
as well as full-time, part-time, and seasonal employees.
Liscow, a graduate of the University of Michigan, where she studied
theater, began her career as an intern at the Playhouse in the Park
in Cincinnati. She then worked as executive director of the
Stage Company in Allentown. "I’ve been steadily working my way
east," she says. Her next stop was the George Street Playhouse,
where she worked for 12 years "doing everything I wanted to do,
working with wonderful artists on wonderful plays." She rose to
the position of associate artistic director there, and then, six
ago, joined the NJTA. Before working for the organization, which is
headed by Laura Aden, its executive director, Liscow served
on NJTA’s board.
Asked if she has ever thought of leaving the theater for a more
career, Liscow says, "I would be liar if I said `never,’ but never
for long." She says she knows plenty of people who go to work
every day griping, but that her theater colleagues are not among them.
Professionals, or about-to-graduate college seniors, who love the
stage but never thought of the theater as a career will see a plethora
of choices at the job fair. Positions filled at previous NJTA job
fairs include group sales manager, sound engineer, lighting board
operator, carpenter, administrative assistant, production manager,
technical director, and costume designer. Pursuing one of these
here in the Garden State is a good choice, says Liscow. For while
all the world may be a stage, few places offer more professional
work than New Jersey.
— Kathleen McGinn Spring
Flashback. It’s March 5, and the blizzard is not a
at all, but rather a barn-burying, wind-pushing monster. And, just
when the Weather Channel’s man in Manhattan, hanging on to a light
pole in an attempt to stay vertical, makes it official — we have
white out conditions! — the power goes out.
If you are responsible for managing apartment houses, office
or condo developments, would you have been prepared?
Raymond Perkins, owner of the property management company Harbour
Management of Somers Point, where the phantom blizzard was expected
to raise multi-story waves, has been worrying about disasters of all
kinds since he left teaching in the early 1980s to manage residential
and commercial properties, and marinas too.
Perkins speaks on emergency preparedness on Tuesday, March 27, at
a conference and trade show of the Institute of Real Estate Management
that begins at noon at the National Conference Center at the Ramada
Inn in East Windsor. Cost: $85. Call 856-303-0190. Other speakers
address a variety of subjects of interest to property management
including project management, loss prevention and risk, affordable
housing issues, recruitment and retention, and additional revenue
Perkins, whose worst brush with Mother Nature occurred during
Gloria in 1986, says property managers need to be ready not only for
the blizzards and hurricanes that are touted by the Weather Channel
for days before they occur (or don’t), but also for unscheduled
mayhem, perhaps a rampage by a disgruntled ex-employee. Among the
advice from this property management expert:
is have a plan in writing somewhere on the property and with key
Perkins says. The plan should list names and emergency contact numbers
for building tenants, notes on anyone who needs special assistance,
physical characteristics of the property, insurance policy numbers,
names and numbers for utility companies, and phone numbers for
services. When disaster strikes, Perkins says, there will be no time
to look for this vital information.
the plan needs to be drilled and constantly updated," says
"People change, properties change, codes change." At least
once a year, he says, the property manager should assemble a team
and go through emergency procedures. The team could include on-site
personnel, workers from other sites, key tenants, emergency services
professionals, and perhaps representatives from the Red Cross or
days later, you won’t remember what happened," Perkins says. This
is especially true if the disaster included injuries or death.
it is important that the property manager be able to give a clear
account to the owner, the insurance company, and perhaps to police
or a court of law. Take notes or make a recording to create a record
of what happened, and of what you did. Included could be the time
the fire department arrived, the time calls were placed for a
service, and a list of tenants and when they were notified.
property managers would do well to check federal, state, and local
building codes, and to make sure their properties are in compliance.
Perkins says a breach could result in denial of insurance claims.
of mind the next time we are said to be directly in the path of a
storm capable of crushing roofs and barricading fire engines in their
Companies looking to protect their businesses from
competition commonly ask new recruits to sign restrictive covenants.
Yet potential employees often resent and even refuse to sign these
covenants, because they perceive the limitations on their future
as too wide-ranging. As a result, covenants are becoming much more
specific, as employers seek to protect their own legitimate business
interests without infringing on a potential employee’s freedom of
Because restrictive covenants can affect a business’ ability to
for qualified employees, their implications should be understood by
high-level managers and executives — not just by corporate
Steven Berlin, Beth Cole
of Buchanan Ingersoll, speak on "Covenants Not to Compete in New
Jersey" on Wednesday, March 28, at 8:30 a.m. at the Ramada Inn
in East Brunswick at a seminar sponsored by Lorman Education Services.
Cost: $239. Call 715-833-3940.
Restrictive covenants specifically limit the ability of employees
or former employees to compete with an employer, solicit current,
former, or even potential customers, solicit or hire co-employees
or colleagues or former colleagues, or utilize and disclose what their
employer or former employer considers to be confidential information
Restricted covenants have always existed, mostly in service and sales
industries, says Berlin. "An employer does not want to pay an
individual to build relationships and develop a business," he
explains, "only for that individual to leave, take the fruits
of the employer’s investment, and compete directly against the
In the past several years, restricted covenants have become more
as companies seek to protect huge investments in the development of
technology-based products or systems and in businesses that are
Once employees learn the technology that an employer has developed
or its unique applications in a particular niche, they can become
a competitive danger. In the face of employees’ growing technical
knowledge, "there is a great effort to protect place and position
in the market," says Berlin.
Yet employers must exercise great care in writing restrictive
In addition to balancing their own legitimate business interests with
an employee’s right to earn a living, they must consider the
of a court’s enforcing the covenant. The following steps are important
when writing a covenant:
A restrictive covenant that focuses on specific and realistic
is more likely to stand up in court. Before writing a covenant, an
employer should specify exactly what needs protecting. "Employers
want to protect everything about how they do business," says
including intellectual property, technology, what the company does
and how, secrets and formulas, pricing mechanisms, contacts, and
processes. Yet when a covenant defines an employer’s interests too
broadly, the courts will be unlikely to enforce it.
It’s better to look at the business, and be specific in what needs
to be protected — and for how long. For example, an employer may
have developed a sales force for a particular product and spent
time developing contacts and forming relationships with customers.
To protect the employer’s specific interests, a covenant would limit
a sales person from selling to the company’s customers for a period
plans . Consider a company that today sells widgets, but tomorrow
expects to be selling gaskets. A broadly-formulated covenant,
that "a former employee would be precluded from competing directly
or indirectly with the business of the company," might protect
a potential gasket business but might not be enforceable. A narrower,
more effective approach would be to preclude the employee from going
to work for another widget company for a specified time period.
is evolving because circumstances are changing," Berlin says.
If the current technology will be obsolete in six months, courts may
not view a longer restrictive covenant as protecting the company’s
legitimate business interests. Says Berlin: "Whatever a particular
employee may know that can be protected may not be relevant in six
to do in the future . "An employee’s involvement with a company
and its business may be very narrow," says Berlin. He raises the
example of a public relations and marketing manager for a widgets
company who is looking for a career change. If the employee goes to
work for another widget company in a different capacity, for example,
human resources, the employee’s previous knowledge would not impose
do not favor restrictions or limitations on an individual’s ability
to go out and earn a living, and covenants are enforced only to the
extent necessary to protect legitimate business interests.
recruitment . "Employees used to blindly sign restrictive
says Berlin, but today they are becoming more sophisticated, and the
signing of a covenant has become a subject of negotiation in the
process. He believes that although employees are uncomfortable with
limitations on future activities, there is usually some version they
will agree to.
states and countries variously interpret the general principles and
rules about restrictive covenants, a company must be aware of where
it is competitively vulnerable and in what jurisdictions it needs
to be protected.
whether a limitation is too broadly drafted — in terms of nature,
time period, and geographic scope — in determining whether to
enforce it," says Berlin. In New Jersey, courts have the option
of performing a "blue pencil revision." They can redraft
that they consider broader than necessary to protect legitimate
interests. "The greater the umbrella of activities that might
be restricted," says Berlin, "the greater the risk that a
court is either not going to enforce a covenant because it is so
or is going to rewrite it in a way in which it was not intended."
College Park with a bachelor’s in journalism. Since receiving a law
degree from the Brooklyn Law School in 1980, he has been practicing
law in New York and New Jersey. Berlin is a New Jersey certified civil
trial attorney and has handled commercial litigation and resolution
of business disputes. For most of the past decade, a significant
of his practice has been focused on employment law. He has been with
Buchanan Ingersoll since September, 1998.
Whereas the tendency of employers is towards broad-based
agreements, says Berlin, these are often not sufficiently specific
to be enforceable by the courts, and they may draw resistance from
potential employees. After careful analysis of risks and benefits,
businesses will need to draft covenants that are narrow enough to
be enforceable, yet not so narrow as to provide insufficient
The process is an art, not a science.
— Michele Alperin
Some men pretending to be women in conversations on
the Internet feel a show of aggressive behavior adds to the appeal
of their borrowed female personas. The same men have concluded that
aggressive behavior by their real-life, male selves is a turn off
to women. This is one phenomenon Sherry Turkle examines in her
book "Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the
Hailed as a leading student of social interaction on the Internet,
Turkle argues that the medium is having a profound effect on the wider
On Wednesday, March 28, at 4:30 p.m. Turkle speaks on "Intimate
Machines: Human Identity and `Affective Computing,’" at Wolfensohn
Hall on the campus of the Institute for Advanced Study.
Also the author of "The Second Self: Computers and the Human
Turkle is a professor of science, technology, and society at MIT.
A graduate of Radcliffe College, she studied with the Committee on
Social Thought at the University of Chicago, and earned a doctorate
On Tuesday, April 24, more than 150 angel investors
will meet at the Union League in Philadelphia to listen to
pitch their business concepts. Entrepreneurs who want to grab the
angels’ ears need to submit summaries of their business plans by this
Wednesday, March 21. Mail the plans to Angel Venture Forum, c/o
Start, 260 Forest Hills Circle, Devon, PA 19333, or E-mail them to
email@example.com, re: Angel Venture Fair.
The third annual Venture Forum is being hosted by the Pennsylvania
Private Investors Group. Also participating are the Private Investors
Network of Washington, D.C., Loosely Organized Retired Executives,
a Philadelphia-based group, the Central Pennsylvania Angel Network,
and Tri-State Ventures.
In the two previous years the event was held, angels in attendance
funded five companies with a total of $4 million. Angel investors
can obtain further information from the Pennsylvania Private Investor
Group at www.ppig.com.
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