Multi-faceted actress/comedienne Sandra Bernhard will host the 9th annual Billboard Touring Awards, set for Nov. 8 in New York City, Billboard announces today. As part of the annual industry gathering, Billboard announces that the Creative Content Award will go to Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour by Cirque du Soleil.
Since launching her career at L.A.'s famed Comedy Store in the '70s, Sandra Bernhard has written and starred in numerous one-woman shows, acted in movies and on television, recorded albums, and authored books. Her first one-woman show, the groundbreaking Without You I'm Nothing, debuted off-Broadway in 1988 and served as inspiration for the film and Grammy-nominated album of the same name. Bernhard followed that with I'm Still Here… Dammit! in 1997, which moved to Broadway a year later, and was filmed for an HBO special. From 1991-1996 Bernhard played Nancy Bartlett -- the first openly gay character on a network sitcom -- on Roseanne. She has played roles on numerous other shows, has appeared more than 30 times on Late Night with David Letterman, and has been a regular guest of Howard Stern's since the early '80s.
Bernhard's film credits include Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy, Nicholas Roeg's Track 29, Hudson Hawk, Dinner Rush, and Dare. Her albums include I'm Your Woman, Excuses for Bad Behavior, and Whatever It Takes. She has also sung with or opened for various musical acts, including the Pretenders, Cyndi Lauper, and the Scissor Sisters. Bernhard has authored three books, and her writing has been published in numerous magazines, including, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and Rolling Stone.Ã¢Â€Â¨
"I'm delighted to help honor the top touring artists and professionals, because, as we all know, they never get enough love," says Bernhard. "So please join me on November 8th in New York City. I'll bring the glamour and the excitement, and it promises to be a terrific evening."
The Creative Content Award is conceived to honor new touring content that is both ambitious in its conception and is commercially successful, fulfilling the need for venues to present compelling content for entertainment fans. The award is not presented every year, reflecting the challenges of the sector; previous winners include Yo Gabba Gabba Live! (2010), Walking With Dinosaurs -- The Live Experience (2008), and Cirque du Soleil's Delirium (2006).
Immortal, which blends Jackson's music with stunning visuals and the creative touch of Cirque, has been a critical and financial success. Since Oct. 2 of last year, the tour has notched attendance of 1,180,163 and grossed $133 million in ticket sales, according to Billboard Boxscore. "Billboard is in many ways about the intersection of art and commerce, and the Creative Content Award addresses that in the realm of touring, while also acknowledging the need entertainment venues have for quality content that sells tickets," says Ray Waddell, executive director of content and programming, touring & live entertainment, for Billboard. "Michael Jackson the Immortal Tour by Cirque du Soleil hits the mark on all levels.
"The entire Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour team is thrilled to accept the 2012 Billboard Touring Awards' Creative Content honor," says John Branca, who put together the Immortal production with Cirque and serves with John McClain as both executive producer and co-executor of the Estate of Michael Jackson. "Immortal's extraordinary success is proof of the enduring popularity of Michael's music. The creative team was guided by Michael's genius, indomitable spirit and his ability to inspire everyone throughout."
The Billboard Touring Awards, held annually at the Roosevelt Hotel ballroom in New York City, honor the concert industry's top artists, venues and professionals for the year, based primarily on the Billboard Boxscore chart and actual box office performance between October 1, 2010 - September 30, 2011. Special, non-Boxscore related awards include Legend Of Live, the Humanitarian Award, the Apple award in honor of the late pioneering promoter Bill Graham, the Concert Marketing & Promotion Award, and the Eventful Fans' Choice Award.
The Touring Awards will cap the 9th Annual Billboard Touring Conference, two days of touring industry panels, sessions, and networking set for Nov. 7-8 at the Roosevelt. Already announced as speakers are Live Nation chief Irving Azoff and the Goldenvoice/Coachella team of Skip Paige, Bill Fold and Paul Tollett.