Break a Leg, Sweetheart!

Two local producers say former theater king Zev Bufman also broke the law. Now all they've got to do is prove it.

Krassner says he and Marsh didn't file a lawsuit earlier because he thought he could negotiate a settlement with Bufman. When that didn't work, the two producers in late 1990 took their case to court, where they suffered a quick setback. Judge Kenneth Ryskamp threw out their original complaint, saying it was unclear and failed to meet the criteria needed to prove a violation of anti-trust laws. (An amended complaint was filed December 13.)

The proceedings were stalled for several more months while Krassner and Marsh's attorney, Steven Kramer, argued that Ryskamp should remove himself from the case because the judge allegedly is prejudiced against Jews and because Kramer actively opposed Ryskamp's nomination to the federal Court of Appeals. (The Senate eventually rejected Ryskamp's nomination, in part because of his membership in Coral Gables's Riviera Country Club, which for years reportedly excluded blacks and Jews.) After hearing the evidence, another federal judge ruled that Ryskamp should remain on the case. Nachwalter, who points out that both he and Bufman are Jewish, says they believe Ryskamp will be fair.

Should Krassner and Marsh win their case, the consequences could be far-reaching. Bufman sold his production company to PACE Entertainment Corp., a Houston-based giant that controls theaters in more than two dozen markets. When PACE bought the company, it also assumed control of Bufman's Florida contracts, all of which have since been renewed. A ruling against Bufman would presumably be a ruling against PACE's current lock on bookings at TOPA and other Florida theaters.

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