Broadway publicist Michael Hartman, a 20-year veteran of the industry, will shutter the Hartman Group, the agency he founded in 2009, at the end of the year, ankling the legit world entirely to become CEO of Austin, Texas-based Amy's Ice Creams.
News, which surprised a lot of legiters on Monday afternoon, leaves some loose threads to be tied up with the current and upcoming Broadway shows currently repped by the company. Most notable among them: box office juggernaut "Wicked" and the latest project from the same producer, "If/Then," plus upcoming big-budget contender "Rocky," all of which are currently among the Hartman Group's roster of clients.
It also remains to be seen where "Rock of Ages," another show represented by the Hartman Group, will end up in the wake of the Jan. 5 closing of the company. Some other shows currently repped by the org, including "Big Fish," "First Date" and "700 Sundays," will have closed by the time the praisery shutters.
Hartman's move registers as a major shakeup in the small, insular world of Broadway, which has long been dominated by only two or three PR outfits, currently including Boneau/Bryan-Brown ("Matilda," "Motown") and O+M ("Kinky Boots," "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark"). It also leaves the staff of Hartman Group scrambling for gigs at other companies -- with many of the flacks likely to carry current clients over with them.
Prior to launching the Hartman Group, Hartman was a partner at Barlow Hartman, which was open for a decade and repped shows including "The Producers," "Billy Elliot," "Movin' Out" and "In the Heights." The Texas native and alum of the University of Texas was one of the first employees at Amy's Ice Cream, which opened in 1984 and has since grown to include 15 Texas locations. He takes up the post of CEO there next year. Recently married, he also plans to start a family upon his return to his home state.
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