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Striking Writers’ Union Denies Waiver, Imperiling Tony Awards Telecast

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A union representing thousands of striking TV and film writers has granted exemptions sought by Broadway officials to allow the Tony Awards ceremony to be broadcast live on June 11. It has been denied, two people briefed on the decision said on Friday. night.

The denial by the union, the Writers Guild of America, said by people who have been granted anonymity to release confidential discussions, is even more important in one of Broadway’s biggest nights, a fragile theater economy after its closure. You are jeopardizing important marketing opportunities. Industry leaders say some of the latest musicals will likely end if the Tony Awards broadcast fails to reach a wider audience.

Broadway boosters are hoping this weekend that the Writers Guild may be persuaded to change their minds. But industry leaders admit that such a reversal is unlikely. Without an exemption from the Writers Guild, a live broadcast of the ceremony would be essentially impossible, as many Broadway audiences, including nominees and presenters, would refuse to cross the picket line.

The Tony Awards governing board, which is responsible for overseeing the broadcast, has scheduled an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss how to proceed.

One option would be to postpone the entire event until the strike is resolved, in which case some of the loss-making Broadway shows will be closed rather than continuing in hopes of an eventual boost from the broadcast. most likely to. Another is that he will present the award in June in a non-television way. This would greatly reduce the marketing value of the award. But after the strike ends, they may try to make up for it by organizing some kind of dazzling broadcast with lots of song and dance.

None of the parties commented on Friday night’s record, but several people close to the talks described the situation after the talks. hollywood reporter Reported exemption denied.

For Hollywood, the Tony Awards are not a front-line issue. Last year he was a niche awards show that was watched by 3.9 million people, less than other awards ceremonies such as the Oscars (18.7 million) and the Grammys (12.5 million).

But for Broadway, the stakes are huge. The Tony Awards are the industry’s biggest marketing moment, an opportunity to introduce audiences to works they’ve never heard of and remind them of the joys of musical theater. This kind of reach is especially important at a time when Broadway attendance figures have yet to reach. pre-pandemic levels. Four of the five nominees for new musicals haven’t sold enough tickets to cover their operating costs for weeks, and all could take advantage of the increased box office revenue from winning or performing well at awards shows. be.

“The Tony Awards are the biggest commercial for the industry as a whole, and for a show like mine that’s just beginning to see life on the unbranded side, it’s going to be a huge shock to not be on board.” Mike Bosner, lead producer of “Shucked,” one of five shows vying for the coveted Best New Music Award, said before the rejection was announced.

“The timing of launching the show was based on the fact that it was part of the run-up to awards season, where there is a lot of attention and national exposure for the show,” he said.

Even before news spread that the WGA had decided to reject the waiver, some producers were pessimistic. “I’m guessing it won’t air,” said Robert Greenblatt, one of the producers of Some Like It Hot, which is also a candidate for a new musical. Greenblatt is well versed in all aspects of the matter and is a frequent Broadway producer as well as former chairman of NBC Entertainment and WarnerMedia.

Many shows are damaged when Tony is late or derailed. “Especially this season, as we are still recovering from the COVID-19 shutdown, the lack of that opportunity is particularly devastating. Shows just how many wonderfully diverse plays and musicals are currently on Broadway. Not being able to do that is especially devastating,” Eva said. Mr. Price is also the lead producer of “& Juliet,” another nominee for Best New Musical.

Already, the WGA strike has affected one awards show, last weekend’s MTV Movie & TV Awards. The ceremony became a pre-recorded affair as organizer Drew Barrymore declined, citing solidarity with the union, and announced the WGA would be picketing.

On Wednesday, as hundreds of demonstrators were expected to march down the picket line, Netflix abruptly canceled its massive Manhattan in-person showcase for advertisers next week and turned it into a virtual event instead. Announced.

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos also said he would not attend the PEN America Literary Gala at the American Museum of Natural History, the literary flagship event that was supposed to honor him. Sarandos said in a statement that it would be best to withdraw “given the threat of disrupting this wonderful evening.”

The last time writers went on strike in 2008, the WGA actively organized demonstrations and actors said they would not cross the picket line, forcing the Golden Globes organizers to cancel the ceremony. . Instead the winner was revealed at a press conference.However, during that strike the WGA Subsidy Waiver Attend televised ceremonies such as the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

The Broadway League and the American Theater Wing, the organizations that award the Tony Awards, declined to comment. They are monitoring the situation closely, but are said to be unsure how to proceed. Representatives for the WGA also declined to comment, as did long-time Tony’s broadcaster CBS.

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