Negotiate. Abbreviate. Collaborate.
That the tension over the Tony Awards June 11 — will it proceed, or will it be canceled, because there was a Writers Guild of America strike a few days ago — is over.
The show will go on, thanks to the WGA, with some alterations but without union picketers obstructing attendees at the United Palace theater, in the Washington Heights neighborhood.
According to the New York Times, Broadway’s biggest night, televised by CBS for decades, will go on as planned, with all parties reaching a workable temporary agreement.
Last Friday, the awards show was nil. By Monday, a sense of unity energized both sides, essentially enabling the tradition to continue, with some concessions.
“As they have stood by us, we stand with our fellow workers on Broadway who are impacted by our strike,” the Writers Guild of America — which represents screenwriters — said in a statement late Monday.
But the show cannot rely on pre-written scripts to reflect the glory and the highlights of the 2023 season. The Times noted, “Tony Awards Productions (a joint venture of the Broadway League and the American Theater Wing) has communicated with us that they are altering this year’s show to conform with specific requests from the WGA, and therefore the WGA will not be picketing the show,” the union said in a statement. “Responsibility for having to make changes to the format of the 2023 Tony Awards rests squarely on the shoulders of Paramount/CBS and their allies. They continue to refuse to negotiate a fair contract for the writers represented by the WGA.”
A revised telecast is better than none. The Broadway community still is wrestling with the three-year pandemic shutdown, and it would have been devastating if the event was totally canceled.
The current hit shows rely on the awards outcome to fuel ticket-buying. The nominated shows are eager to earn a trophy or two, and the newbies which opened in the past few weeks, are struggling to find patrons, too.
The revised plans would include the usual presentation of key awards and live performances of songs from Broadway musicals, but how the protocols work out remain to be seen or heard. Scripted material, prepared prior to the brief threat of a shutdown, cannot be utilized, with the Tony producers abiding to the regulations.
A lot of ad-libbing, perhaps? The awards show is live, so the nominees and presenters may have to resort to the spontaneity of the moment in real time.
Still uncertain, if last year’s host and eventual Tony winner, Ariana DeBose (pictured,) from “West Side Story,” will host again. She volunteered for the gig, but no decision has been made.
Like Hollywood’s film community, Broadway’s stage industry is heavily unionized, where participants of both entertainment camps are aware of the complications of taking part in the show, with some restrictions to members. For instance, if writers are forbidden to produce scripts for the show, but how does an appearance of a singer, dancer, or musician play out with some kind of script? The dots over the i’s and the crosses across the t’s are up to interpretation.
Prominent theater artists who work on Broadway and are allied with the writers guild also spoke up on behalf of the Tonys, arguing that forcing the show off the air would be catastrophic to the art form and to the many arts workers it employs. The combination of the lobbying efforts and the new conditions appear to have prompted the guild to finally agree Monday that the show would go on.
The striking screenwriters have argued that their wages have stagnated and working conditions have deteriorated despite the fact that television production has exploded over the last decade. Think streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus and more. Negotiations between the major Hollywood studios — represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers — and the WGA broke down a month ago, triggering 11,500 writers voting for a strike May 2…
Prime time for Bruddah Iz
Just when you think that the prime time run of Israel Kamakawiwo‘ole’s hit song, “Over the Rainbow” is over, along comes another major placement on Fox’s “9-1-1: Lone Star” earlier this week.
Bruddah Iz’s (pictured, right) very familiar “oooh-oooh-oooh” intro, along with the first verse of the iconic song from “The Wizard of Oz,” had prominent exposure in the wedding scene of T.K. Strand (played by Ronen Rubinstein) and Carlos Reyes (enacted by Rafael Souza), first-responder fireman and police officer, respectively) as they marched down the aisle to exchange their I-do’s sealed with a kiss. ‘Twas the perfect heart-tugging melody, then and now again.
The song has been Hawaii’s No. 1 hit ever since Iz died in 1997, heard in films, TV, and commercial spots globally … but apparently a new generation of fans will again enjoy the new wave of exposure. Great news. …
Broadway grosses, for week ending May 14
Not surprisingly, the million dollar club on the Great White Way, continues to be “The Lion King.”
The Disney musical has topped the weekly grosses tally, provided by the Broadway League. It regained the pinnacle, ever since Hugh Jackman’s “Music Man” prevailed with $3 million grosses week after week.
Here’s the ranking of the top seven shows:
1 — “The Lion King,” $1.950 million.
2 — “Hamilton,” $1.889 million.
3 — “Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” $1.840 million.
4 — “Funny Girl,” $1.637 million.
5 — “MJ, the Musical,” $1.606 million.
6 — “Wicked,” $1.500 million.
7 — Moulin Rouge,” $1.262 million.
And here’s the entire list of the Broadway grosses…
And that’s Show Biz …