Tony Awards officials urge striking writers to reconsider broadcast

Broadway producers and industry leaders say the annual awards show is an important marketing tool for the industry and critical to the financial health of new musicals.

Broadway shows don’t have the same marketing budgets as Hollywood movies or TV series, so other ways have to be found to generate awareness, and awards ceremonies have traditionally been an important part of that.

The festival benefits the theater industry in a number of ways: award-winning shows sell tickets to theatergoers eager to see highly acclaimed productions, and those shows airing sensational or moving musical numbers often see a box office bump. .

WGA members are striking for better compensation and structural changes in the way writers interact with studios, streaming services and networks in the growing entertainment industry.

At the same time, the theater industry is still trying to recover from the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic: Broadway attendance this season is 17 percent lower than it was in the entire season before the pandemic.

One sign of the current economic challenge: Four of the five shows nominated for best new musical this year lose money most weeks because it costs more to put on shows than they make at the box office. Those shows — “Kimberly Akimbo,” “New York, New York,” “Shucked” and “Some Like It Hot” — especially hope that winning prizes or showing their production numbers on telecasts will help sell tickets. A nominated show currently doing well at the box office, “& Juliet” will welcome the opportunity to perform in front of a national audience.

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Talks are ongoing between theater industry leaders, union leaders and CBS. The Broadway League and the American Theater Wing, which jointly present the Tony Awards, hope to resolve the crisis soon.

It appears the Tony Awards will have to find a way forward without a telecast on June 11. A compromise.

If a broadcast proves impossible, many industry leaders appear committed to presenting the prizes as planned, either at a non-televised event or by announcing the winners. But some feel the ceremony should be postponed until the strike is over so it can be televised.

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