Glenn Beck Unveils His Next Nutty Idea to His Followers at His Summer Gathering: I'm the Man in the Moon
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"There's a sucker born every minute." -- Glenn Beck, Salt Lake City, July 6
SALT LAKE CITY -- The double rainbow arching directly over the outdoor stage could only mean one thing: God was smiling on Glenn Beck. Two hours after monsoon-like rains drenched and darkened Salt Lake Valley, and with weather reports still threatening an even chance of thunderstorms, Beck's fans celebrated the divine thumbs-ups in the clouds. As soon as the rainbows appeared, sounds of prayerful thanks rippled through the USANA amphitheater, a modest venue on the city's western outskirts. "It's God's message," said a woman in a raincoat fashioned from a garbage bag. "I just knew He wouldn't let tonight get washed out."
He did not. Aside from a few light sprinkles early in the unusually cool July 6 night, "Man in the Moon," the inaugural event of Beck's new entertainment company, American Dream Labs, went off without a hitch. This included the execution of a high-wire upside-down flag folding ceremony that had failed repeatedly in rehearsal. After much internal debate, Beck finally green-lit the risky act after getting the meteorological message from his Number One Fan. "When I saw the double rainbow, I thought, 'Let's go for it,'" Beck told the crowd to cheers.
As with Beck's last three summer gatherings, conservatism's least predictable impresario promoted "Man in the Moon" as an historic turning point in the American saga. Like other Beck-identified turning points, this one came with a merch table and all the lean marketing muscle of a major-market NFL franchise. Sixteen thousand people from around the country, including Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, answered Beck's call to support his stage and video experiment, buying tickets in a tiered system that spiked out at $1,500 VIP passes. Gold and Platinum tickets included premium seating and parking, a signed poster, and a 10 second meet-and-greet photo op with Beck.
Not included in the ticket price was access to three days of lectures and seminars at the Grand America Hotel. Those passes to talks by leading conservative authors and activists like Fox's Michelle Malkin and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) cost extra, the proceeds going to the Beck-affiliated charity, Mercury One. The morning of the main event, that non-profit helped raise money for the charity of businessman Jon Huntsman Sr., a long-time Beck ally and the father of the former Utah governor and presidential candidate. FreedomWorks, which pays Beck one million dollars a year for fundraising and media support, functioned as an unofficial co-sponsor of "Man in the Moon." The night before Beck's show, theright-wing advocacy group hosted a "Free the People" event at the USANA amphitheater.
But nobody traveled to Salt Lake to hear FreedomWorks' Matt Kibbe give his flat freedom rap, or listen to Rafael Cruz, father of Senator Ted, compare Barack Obama to Fidel Castro. The draw in Utah was the final night's premiere of Beck's latest creation, "Man in the Moon." Tonight was not about restoring another vague concept like Honor or Courage, but celebrating the launch of Beck's new production company. As the sun set on the Wasatch mountain range, Beck described American Dream Labs' first offering as opening a new front in his media war to right and rescue the republic.
This is the front of popular culture. The Blaze octopus (web, TV, soon a radio network) would continue to base Beck's brand as a force in news and opinion; two years after losing his Fox gig in the wake of a years-long advertiser boycott, he is now attempting, with some early success, to muscle his way back into cable on his own terms. The Dream Labs, meanwhile, would function more like a faceless corporate movie studio, with Beck deliberately lowering his profile in the interests of growth.