Tonight at the Geffen Playhouse, the world premiere production of "The Escort" by Emmy-winning playwright Jane Anderson opens in previews. If you haven't heard much about it, there could be a reason. The Westwood theater's ads have been refused, kicked over into the online ghetto of adults-only advertising, or forced to be toned-down and run without the name of the play. Google banner ads featuring the naked blow up dolls seen here were rejected, as were ads without the faux nudity and showing just the dolls' faces.
Says a theater staffer, "We also had to change the name of our campaign and be careful of what we say in our other online text ads as pornography and escort services are, understandably, not allowed to be advertised on the sites that theater buyers frequent." The Geffen also received a note from one of its online partners "threatening to close our account if we tried to submit the ads again." Wait, there's more:
Our usual billboard partner rejected the art and, after going through a few rounds of edits, we eventually were forced to run a text-only ad without the title of the play [and] with the copy: “Nothing is taboo.”
On public radio our spot copy and song bed were initially approved, they ran for a week, and then we were asked to edit it due to its inappropriate sexual content.
The Geffen describes "The Escort" this way:
Nothing is taboo in this world premiere about a high-class call girl. Charlotte is charged with escorting us through this titillating tale as members of one seemingly liberal family test the limits of their own sexual morality. What happens when social ideals are in direct conflict with personal choices in the bedroom? While this provocative new Geffen commission is laced with sex, bad language and nudity, don’t expect some bawdy farce from this Emmy and Ovation Award winning writer. This sexually charged roller coaster ride takes us down a path of unexpected thoughtfulness and depth that asks the question: How far are you willing to go to prove your open-mindedness?
"The Escort" opens for real on April 6. Here's an L.A. Times feature on Anderson earlier this month, and a Playbill story. The co-stars are Maggie Siff, who played Rachel Menken in the first season of "Mad Men," and Polly Draper, the director and actor who was a regular on TV's "thirtysomething."
Here's how that cleaned-up ad looks, as if an image of a plastic doll really needs to be "cleaned up."