It was a close-run thing, but in the end, internal strife at HBO torpedoed the potential first Santa Barbara Comedy Arts Festival.
The CAF, as it is known, had been the biggest media event of the year in Aspen, Colorado, until this year’s combination of difficult weather, higher rates, and longer minimum stays at the poshest Aspen hotels pushed HBO to announce that the fest would have a new home in 2008. More than a month of heavy-duty planning and wrangling ensued, and schedules were drawn up for three days of a full-on comedy blitz. From tents on East Beach and a headquarters at the Cabrillo Arts Pavilion to Center Stage Theater, SOhO, the Lobero Theatre, the Arlington Theatre, and even the Bowl, the teams involved assembled what looked like a workable plan.
But, at the final hour, the decision was with HBO management whether or not to go through with the project. Due to recent changes there at the very top-Chris Albrecht, the former chairman and CEO who was the Santa Barbara festival’s biggest supporter, was asked to resign in May after a much-publicized arrest in Las Vegas-it was determined that the best course for 2008 would be a cancellation.
HBO will continue with its Las Vegas-based festival, which is scheduled for November 14-17, 2007.