A fifth-row seat at the Barclays Center goes for $ 1,256.00. A seat in the front row, with a “meet & greet package” thrown in, will cost you up to $ 3,000. Wheelchair seating in the back of the house is listed at $ 400, while a spot in the upper tiers could be had for $ 29.50.
The latest mega-production from U2 or Beyoncé? Nope. It’s the price of admission to see Michelle Obama on tour for “Becoming,” the former first lady’s memoir, which is scheduled to be published Nov. 13.
After keeping a relatively low profile since leaving the White House, Mrs. Obama is returning to the public sphere in dramatic fashion.
While other authors typically follow a circuit that may include podcast interviews and stops at the 92nd Street Y in New York and Powell’s Books in Portland, Ore., Mrs. Obama is set to embark on a 10-city tour put together by Live Nation, the world’s largest concert promoter, which manages about 500 artists, including Miley Cyrus, Beyoncé and U2. Tickets are available, while they last, from Ticketmaster.
The tour is to begin in Chicago, Mrs. Obama’s hometown, at the United Center. The arena, the home of the Chicago Bulls, has a usual seating capacity of 23,500. After wending its way through venues of similar size in Inglewood, Calif., Washington, D.C., Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, Denver, San Jose, Calif., and Dallas, the monthlong run will end in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center (seating capacity: 19,000).
On its website, Live Nation said that Mrs. Obama’s show would “feature intimate and honest conversations between Mrs. Obama and a selection of to-be-announced moderators, reflective of the extraordinary stories shared in the wide-ranging chapters of her deeply personal book.” Because of high demand during the pre-sale period, which ended on Thursday, the promoter recently added second shows in Washington and Brooklyn.
Other authors have had book tours that resembled concert tours. Anthony Bourdain promoted his 2016 book, “Appetites,” with a 15-city jaunt that had him doing stand-up-like sets at the Grand Theater at Foxwoods (seating capacity: roughly 2,000) in Mashantucket, Conn., and the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco (roughly 3,000). But there has been nothing like this.
Mrs. Obama’s rollout is also bigger than the promotional effort undertaken by Hillary Clinton for her 2017 book, “What Happened,” during which the former presidential candidate appeared at the Auditorium Theater of Roosevelt University in Chicago (seating capacity: 3,875) and the Warner Theater in Washington (1,875). Ticket prices ran upward of $ 2,000 for a V.I.P. package that included choice seats and selfie opportunities.
Emily Bender, Live Nation’s public relations director, said 10 percent of the tickets for each of Mrs. Obama’s shows would be donated to charities, schools and community groups in each city.
Steven Barclay, a book agent who has planned large-scale tours for the authors Ina Garten and David Sedaris, was virtually speechless as he checked the Ticketmaster landing page for Mrs. Obama.
“Huh,” he said. “Wow. O.K. It’s like you’re looking at a Madonna tour. That’s the first thing that comes to mind.”
Anand Giridharadas, the author of “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World,” a critique of modern philanthropy, said the Obamas should not be held to a higher standard than other former public officials who have made money after holding office, but he added that he was still taken aback by the planned rollout.
“As the first African-American president and first lady, I am very wary of arguments that they should not do something everybody else was allowed to do,” Mr. Giridharadas said. “But an arena with tiered seating is a powerful metaphor for everything they presumably want to destroy. What this illustrates to me is that cashing in has become our common culture in a way we don’t realize. It’s the water in which we’re all swimming.”
And the Obamas have seemingly jumped into the deep end.
In 2017, the Crown Publishing Group reached a joint deal with President Barack Obama and Mrs. Obama for separate memoirs. David Drake, the deputy publisher of Crown, a Penguin Random House subsidiary, would not comment on how much the deal was worth.
In addition to the publishing arrangement, the Obamas agreed to a multiyear production deal with Netflix in May to create television shows and films through their new production company, Higher Ground. Netflix did not disclose financial details, but similar deals have been worth many tens of millions of dollars over several years.
In another move that seems more characteristic of an entertainment industry star than a former first lady, Mrs. Obama and Crown have struck a deal with Hearst Magazines to promote “Becoming,” with content sprinkled through its publications and websites, according to seven people familiar with the arrangement.
The people said the agreement with Hearst was helped along by Joanna Coles, the company’s recently departed chief content officer, and Gayle King, a co-anchor of “CBS This Morning” and editor at large at O, The Oprah Magazine, which is among the company’s more than 300 publications worldwide.
According to people with knowledge of the plan, Mrs. Obama will appear on the cover of the December issue of Elle magazine as part of the promotional push. She also met with a select group of Hearst editors this month, people at the company said. Mr. Drake, of Crown, would not disclose the specifics of other media appearances that Mrs. Obama has planned to promote the memoir.
The book’s contents have been kept under wraps, but in June Mrs. Obama gave “Becoming” a sneak preview during an interview with a friend, Carla Hayden, the librarian of Congress, at the American Library Association conference in New Orleans.
They chatted about favorite authors (from Dr. Seuss to Zadie Smith), the role that Mrs. Obama’s mother, Marian Shields Robinson, played in her life and the challenges of balancing career, motherhood and the role of presidential spouse.
Mrs. Obama noted during the interview that she put her legal career on pause “as my husband’s ascent got faster and higher and louder.” Through it all, she said, being a mother helped her maintain a sense of self-worth.
“It is not easy to tell somebody that you are worth a lot,” she said. “Especially for women. We have a hard time saying that about ourselves, that I know my worth and I can put a monetary number on it, too.”
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