LEHI — Glenn Beck the businessman can't seem to sit still.
Since walking away from his 30-month stint on the cable network Fox News in 2011, Beck's interests have multiplied and his income has exploded. (Forbes estimated Beck made $80 million from mid-2011 to mid-2012 — more than the previous two years combined.) Even after launching his own television network, TheBlaze TV, he still continues to expand the horizons of Mercury Radio Inc., the burgeoning media empire he wholly owns.
Two of Beck’s newest ventures are inextricably tied to Utah. Last month, for instance, he announced on his television show the formation of three American Dream Labs — one each in Dallas, Australia and Utah. The Dream Labs will be his de facto innovation centers for a wide swath of seemingly disparate paradigms, ranging from farming to storytelling to health care.
A couple weeks later, Beck disclosed that American Dream Labs would be the creative force behind “Man in the Moon” — an original stage production set to debut July 6 at Salt Lake City’s USANA Amphitheater.
‘Man in the Moon’
For Beck, the catalyst behind the project that eventually became “Man in the Moon” was his displeasure with traditional Fourth of July fireworks celebrations that basically do nothing to stoke patriotism.
“(‘Man in the Moon’) is really part of an effort that I’ve been thinking about for quite some time: The Fourth of July celebration needs to change,” Beck told the Deseret News on a recent weekday at the American Dream Labs facility in Lehi. “This is a totally different Fourth of July experience.
“This is not a fireworks show — while there are pyrotechnics being used, we’re using them to re-create World War II. This is the story of America, told in a fable sort of way, by the ‘Man in the Moon’ who has been watching man since the beginning of time (and) is telling the story of America through a much longer scope and lens.”
The July 6 performance will fall on a Saturday night; it will cap three days of events associated with Glenn Beck’s “brand,” including a service project and a rally sponsored by the conservative PAC FreedomWorks.
Beck indicated that the stage performance would be filmed and released as “a movie event” later in the summer.
“The goal of ‘Man in the Moon’ is to try and get people to anchor back to what is real; question everything that you know; see the great power of the inventive spirit, get excited about it, and want to do it,” Beck explained. “We’re trying to start the light and start the fire of American ingenuity and that engine of inspiration again. If people like it, next year ‘The Man in the Moon’ will be playing in different cities.”
Ben McPherson, an artist and filmmaker with Utah roots, is the man responsible for molding both the “Man in the Moon” production and the physical American Dream Labs workspace to reflect Beck’s artistic vision.
“The more that you get to know Glenn, the more you find that he lives in this (creative) space more than any other space,” McPherson told the Deseret News. “Despite all the perceptions about where he lives — ‘political land’ or whatever — the Glenn I know is creative and just wants to disseminate that creativity as much as possible, and is looking for people who are of the same mindset.”
When Beck visited the American Dream Labs in Lehi last week, it was his first time experiencing the unique ambiance McPherson had conjured in an industrial-park warehouse space by combining elements both informal (arcade-style video game consoles and large sectional couches) and sophisticated (a fancy chandelier, as well as a menagerie of unpainted metal props fastened to the walls in such a way that collectively convey a “retro military” theme).
“I hire good people, and I try to surround myself with good people, to where I can have an idea but then they can take it and push it further,” Beck said. “I said to Ben, ‘We need to build a Dream Labs, and I want it to be a real creative space that reflects me and what we are.’ And this is the first time I’ve seen it. And this is his vision. Today my father-in-law walked in here and said, ‘It’s amazing the way your mind works.’ And I said, ‘Dad, I had nothing to do with this. This is Ben.’ ”
Glenn Beck’s “Man in the Moon” will play July 6 at 7 p.m. at USANA Amphitheater. Tickets go on sale at 9 a.m. Tuesday; prices range from $1,250 for the “Gold VIP Package” to $35 for lawn seating. For more information, visit GlennBeck.com/maninthemoon.
Jamshid Ghazi Askar is a graduate of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School and member of the Utah State Bar. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-236-6051.