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How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Tonys

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macbeth
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The Hollywood Reporter talked to insiders and laid out 3 scenarios for the Tonys - each with pros and cons. 

1) Hold a virtual Tonys to honor the partial season

2) Combine seasons

3) Cancel them

I know all have been debated here before... Personally I would vote for #1 - ideally timed to celebrate Broadway this Fall, tickets going back on sale (hopefully) and with special awards aplenty. 

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Jordan Catalano
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Having the Tony awards any of those three ways make zero sense until people can actually step foot into a theater again. The awards are a giant commercial for the theater industry and holding them while people can’t attend is pointless. Add to that, that voters didn’t get to see all the shows and its just not something that could or should happen anytime soon. I have a feeling that for the next couple years the awards will be on a completely different schedule until things balance out and are back to “normal”.
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HogansHero
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How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Tonys#3
Posted: 8/8/20 at 10:45am

first of all, the article could have been written by someone with at least a slight familiarity with expressing themselves in the English language...

regarding #1, it seems that ship has sailed. beyond that, it seems impossible to solve the "problem" until it has manifested. If there are no shows in 20-21, as some predict, then there is nothing to combine or cancel. If there are some shows but they do not constitute a critical mass, then maybe they go back and combine. If there are a decent number of shows, as others predict, then 19-20 will likely just be "lost" (maybe with some time reserved to acknowledge the highlights. One other idea I heard mentioned was to go to an Obies style ceremony for whatever there is, with the nomination committee choosing shows, performances, designs, etc worthy of acknowledgement. 

But no one can solve anything right now, no matter how often they meet. 

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The Tonys isn't a problem this year, it's simply not happening.
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I know this is the incredibly unpopular opinion, but my feeling is that whenever Broadway returns, it's time to just start a new season as far as awards are concerned and that everything that opened May 2019-March 2020 is simply not eligible for the Tonys.  It would be completely unfair to give out awards right now for them since not all the voters had a chance to see them yet, it would be completely unfair to invite back folks to watch the shows when they resume since not all of them are still running, and it would be completely unfair to ask voters to consider in the same light shows that they saw last night and shows that they saw likely 2-3 years ago by the time the Tonys would return to recognize shows opening after the pandemic.  So the only solution in my opinion is that due to unfortunate circumstances, shows that had opened pre-pandemic are simply never going to be eligible for the Tonys.

Now, what I would love to see, is instead of a Tony ceremony recognizing those shows, whenever Broadway resumes they put together a CBS special "welcome back, Broadway" type of thing where just like the Tonys, those shows still running could perform (and their clips could then be uploaded to YouTube which, let's be real, is what's really driving in ticket sales after the Tonys) and use that to boost their marketing image just like they would use the Tonys to do so.  Basically the Tonys, just without the awards.  I feel that's the fairest thing for all.

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I know this is the incredibly unpopular opinion, but my feeling is that whenever Broadway returns, it's time to just start a new season as far as awards are concerned and that everything that opened May 2019-March 2020 is simply not eligible for the Tonys.

It may not be as unpopular as you think, I completely agree. This year is a wash, it doesn't and shouldn't count.

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Updated On: 8/8/20 at 01:40 PM
lemiz3001
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Sutton Ross said: "I know this is the incredibly unpopular opinion, but my feeling is that whenever Broadway returns, it's time to just start a new season as far as awards are concerned and that everything that opened May 2019-March 2020 is simply not eligible for the Tonys.

It may not be as unpopular as you think, I completely agree. This year is a wash, it doesn't and shouldn't count.
"

Imagine the (justified) industry outcry when Slave Play is deemed ineligible for any Tony Awards. This is one of the very real reasons the Tony Awards is in a bind. 
 

CBS and the League have held off having any official ceremony due to the fact mentioned above there is no reason to have a commercial for Broadway when there is no Broadway. I agree with the thought there should be some sort of virtual awards and then a major “commercial” for broadway on CBS when theatre is back. 
 

 

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I'm all for a big televised "welcome back" event with speeches, anecdotes, and performances by big names (disregarding any awards being handed out), but I don't really think a virtual Tonys would make sense after a 1/2 season, give or take. 

My optimistic side thinks the Tonys as we once knew them will return in 2022- much of next year could possibly be a wash as well.

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I am unfamiliar with the Obie’s nominating process, so I may be misinterpreting HogansHero. If I am interpreting him correctly, I.e., have a panel select a list of nominees (winners?) and give awards only to those who the panel considers worthy of a Tony.

While awards are not the most important things right now, it would nevertheless be a real shame if at least the MR design team was not recognized, or Danny Burstein, ML Parker, Slave Play, apparently The Inheritance (I did not see it), Johanna K from Slave Play, perhaps Adrienne Warren and Mare Winningham and possibly others...with a nomination, and for some an award. If a category is not adequately represented, pass it over; if there is only one viable option and it would be a serious contender in a full season, recognize it.

Decades ago, the Emmy’s did this for one season; there were say 30-40 nominees in total, with no categories identified; all were acknowledged during the show, with individual winners announced periodically. There were some historically standard categories which were not even represented by any of the nominees selected, e.g., there may not have been a single comedy actor nominated, whereas some winners would have completed in a single category in all other seasons, e.g., two lead actresses both won.

The goal was to single out the best of the best. It made for a very unexciting viewing, and was abandoned quickly.. In a pinch, I think that process could work well given the current situation. Include it in the inevitable ‘Broadway has reopened’ telecast, which would focus on reminding audiences of the shows that are still playing or newly opening, and recognizing those artists whose work might have not otherwise been recognized.

Updated On: 8/8/20 at 02:34 PM
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How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Tonys#10
Posted: 8/8/20 at 2:55pm

you interpreted correctly. no nominees, no winners, just awards decided by the committee, and no limit on how many awards of a kind may be given, and no requirement that any be given. 

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How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Tonys#11
Posted: 8/8/20 at 3:04pm

lemiz3001 said: "Imagine the (justified)industry outcry when Slave Play is deemed ineligiblefor any Tony Awards. This is one of the very real reasons the Tony Awards is in a bind."

There would absolutely be industry outcry if that happened, but there's unfortunately going to be industry outcry no matter what happens.  There will be outcry from producers of shows that closed in the fall if shows still running from last fall are eligible.  There will be outcry from producers of shows opening in 2022 if they have to compete against shows that opened in 2019 (and outcry from producers of shows that opened in 2019 if they have to compete against newer shows from 2022).  I'm afraid there's really no way for this to end that doesn't include major outcry from many people in the industry.

lemiz3001
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How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Tonys#12
Posted: 8/8/20 at 3:59pm

There would absolutely be industry outcry if that happened, but there's unfortunately going to be industry outcry no matter what happens. There will be outcry from producers of shows that closed in the fall if shows still running from last fall are eligible. There will be outcry from producers of shows opening in 2022 if they have to compete against shows that opened in 2019 (and outcry from producers of shows that opened in 2019 if they have to compete against newer shows from 2022). I'm afraid there's really no way for this to end that doesn't include major outcry from many people in the industry."

It seems my point was missed. It would be more than just producers complaining.

Refusing to nominate or award the biggest critical-hit play written by and directed by BIPOC in a long time would be a MAJOR public issue. A black person hasn't won the Tony Award for Best Play in over 30 years. 

Let's live in the real world, Jeremy is hugely outspoken and with a massive press/twitter following. The producing team includes Jake Gyllenhaal. They've already taken steps to show they're not just going to "let it slide". So has Scott Rudin with West Side Story, the producers of Moulin Rouge (design awards), and the Tina team (Adrienne Warren). It is extremely unlikely the Tony's will "forget" about this season, what I'm hearing will likely happen is everything is lumped into one awards ceremony next year. 

I agree with Hogan, the nominating committee (who I think I read had seen every show that opened) should just hand out awards as they see fit and we can move on. 

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How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Tonys#13
Posted: 8/8/20 at 4:40pm

For those suggesting that we just "call it a wash," because making the eligibility carry over would be "unfair"- I understand why this might seem on the surface like the most clean, elegant solution. But I feel like this suggestion fails to take into account the actual, real-life pros and cons for those involved.

Combining seasons (or extending eligibility - however you want to word it) seems to me like a superior option from virtually all angles:

1. For the shows that closed last fall: theoretically they already invited all of the voters. The only disadvantage to is the fact that they won’t be fresh in the voters’ minds. But I’m sure the producers would prefer that scenario over total disqualification. Also, shows that closed back in the fall aren’t really the ones that are benefiting from Tony wins, so if they get forgotten, it’s not as big of a loss for the industry. And it would also prevent any controversy over shows being considered ineligible, like Slave Play.

2. The shows that will benefit from Tony wins/nominations are the ones that still plan to run after theatres re-open. And by definition, that also means they will have the opportunity to invite the voters who haven’t seen it yet, or maybe even re-invite them, for the sake of giving them a refresher. And even if they already invited the voters and can’t invite them back, it’s still more beneficial to be eligible, because then at least there’s a CHANCE for the exposure. Disqualification eliminates that chance entirely. Asking the Tony Voters to keep in mind shows they saw 1-2 years earlier is a very minor inconvenience for them, and doesn't even remotely outweigh the potential inconvenience to the shows if they were disqualified completely.

3. The only casualties in this scenario are the shows that closed early due to COVID, and did NOT have the chance to invite all the voters. But disqualifying those shows won’t cause a controversy, because “the voters didn’t get to see it” is a perfectly legitimate excuse for disqualification, and it even has precedent in normal years. There's no reason all the other shows should be disqualified, just because these ones had to be. And once again, these shows wouldn’t benefit from Tony wins anyway.

4. Meanwhile, it's likely that when Broadway does re-open, it will be slim pickings when it comes to awards. So combining 2 abridged seasons means that the audience gets to see a more meaningful competition.

TL;DR - Nobody benefits from disqualifying this season's shows, and everyone benefits (comparatively) from allowing them to be eligible at the next Tony awards - whenever they happen.

Having said that, I think Hogan's suggestion of going the Obies' route also has merit; I think this route has drawbacks too, but it's the only proposed solution that MIGHT be better than combining seasons. Disqualifying these shows entirely has no advantages whatsoever, compared to the alternatives.

Updated On: 8/8/20 at 04:40 PM
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How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Tonys#14
Posted: 8/8/20 at 5:09pm

I say that when Broadway is given the green light to reopen all the 19/20 shows that have closed should be invited back for a limited run of one or two weeks for voters and the general public. That could also function as a test run  for any infection control mandates imposed and to focus group the audience as to what they want from broadway during a pandemic.

Updated On: 8/8/20 at 05:09 PM
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How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Tonys#15
Posted: 8/8/20 at 5:19pm

I think this is a "problem" that requires a substantial number of greater problems to be solved first.

"...everyone finally shut up, and the audience could enjoy the beginning of the Anatevka Pogram in peace."
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How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Tonys#16
Posted: 8/8/20 at 6:21pm

Sunny11 said: "I say thatwhen Broadway is given the green light to reopen all the 19/20 shows that have closed should be invited back for a limitedrun ofone or two weeks for voters and the general public. That could also function as a test run for anyinfection control mandates imposed and to focus group the audience as to what they want from broadway during a pandemic."

I think that is both financially and logistically unworkable, a total non-starter IMO.

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How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Tonys#17
Posted: 8/8/20 at 6:29pm

Refusing to nominate or award the biggest critical-hit play written by and directed by BIPOC in a long time would be a MAJOR public issue. A black person hasn't won the Tony Award for Best Play in over 30 years. 

So because a black person has not won that award in 30 years, Jeremy deserves it? I don't think so. It was not a hit in any capacity and it failed to recoup. People are very scared to criticize Slave Play which I find really interesting.

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How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Tonys#18
Posted: 8/8/20 at 8:06pm

Sutton Ross said: "Refusing to nominateor award the biggest critical-hit play written byand directed byBIPOC in a long time would be a MAJORpublic issue.A black person hasn't won the Tony Award for Best Play in over 30years.

So because a black person has not won that award in 30 years, Jeremy deserves it? I don't think so. It was not a hit in any capacity and itfailed to recoup. People are very scared to criticize Slave Play which I find really interesting.
"

Sutton, I think that it has got less to do with both the time gap and any sort of acclaim and all to do with the landscape of things that have happened since it’s Broadway run. Now, the nature of the beast of any major awards program, such as the Tonys has a lot to do with “office politics” so to speak. Post Slave Play’s run on Broadway we had the murder of George Floyd. And, that gave rise to the worldwide Black Lives Matter protests. And, through that came the document from black theatre professionals on how white theatre owners and producers can make it better for black people.

 

With those two things in play now, Both the Wing and the League won’t look so good if it goes any other way.

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How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Tonys#19
Posted: 8/8/20 at 8:15pm
Optics. Got it. Thank you for your thoughts, as always. Much appreciated.
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How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Tonys#20
Posted: 8/8/20 at 8:29pm

Sutton Ross said: "Optics. Got it. Thank you for your thoughts, as always. Much appreciated."

You know, you didn’t have to have such a stick up your ass haughty response to it. And, I never saw the play. Never got around to it, so I don’t fit into the camp of people who you feel cannot say anything wrong about the play.  

With that being said, I do feel that if the Black Lives Matter protests didn’t  happen world wide, we may be able to throw other plays into the discussion of what should win the Tony for best play. 

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How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Tonys#21
Posted: 8/8/20 at 8:44pm
Um, I was being genuine with my appreciation and "optics" is simply my understanding of your post.
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How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Tonys#22
Posted: 8/8/20 at 8:48pm

Sutton Ross said: "Um, I was being genuine with my appreciation and "optics" is simply my understanding of your post."

Sorry for misunderstanding your tone, please forgive. 

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How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Tonys#23
Posted: 8/8/20 at 8:54pm
Always. Be well.
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How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Tonys#24
Posted: 8/9/20 at 12:25am

Islander_fan said: "Sutton Ross said: "Refusing to nominateor award the biggest critical-hit play written byand directed byBIPOC in a long time would be a MAJORpublic issue.A black person hasn't won the Tony Award for Best Play in over 30years.

So because a black person has not won that award in 30 years, Jeremy deserves it? I don't think so. It was not a hit in any capacity and itfailed to recoup. People are very scared to criticize Slave Play which I find really interesting.
"

Sutton, I think that it has got less to do with both the time gap and any sort of acclaim and all to do with the landscape of things that have happened since it’s Broadway run. Now, the nature of the beast of any major awards program, such as the Tonys has a lot to do with “office politics” so to speak. Post Slave Play’s run on Broadway we had the murder of George Floyd. And, that gave rise to the worldwide Black Lives Matter protests. And, through that came the document from black theatre professionals on how white theatre owners and producers can make it better for black people.



With those two things in play now, Both the Wing and the League won’t look so good if it goes any other way.
"

Yes, thanks Islander_fan. I never said Jeremy “deserved” to win, please look back on my post. The optics of refusing to nominate Slave Play (in turn, a response to the idea of calling the 2019-2020 season a ‘wash’ and moving on as posted above) would create a major public affairs problem in a post George Floyd-BLM world. 
 

I also never called Slave Play a commercial hit. It was, undoubtably, a critical darling and a major press moment for Broadway. I’m more than happy to criticize and debate it’s artistic merits, but we’re talking about the Tony Awards here. 

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How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Tonys#25
Posted: 8/9/20 at 3:26am

With all that is going on in this country and the world, I don't care about the Tonys