Tony Awards partly makes amends with shunned journalists
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No one knows how to make a stink like a shunned journalist. And in the case of New York’s Broadway press corps, raising hackles against the Tony Awards has resulted in a positive change.
The Tony Awards said Thursday that it will partly reverse a decision made last year to exclude theater critics and other members of the press from participating in the voting process for Broadway’s highest honor.
In a statement, organizers of the award said they will re-instate members of the New York Drama Critics’ Circle as Tony voters beginning with the 2010-2011 season, which is when the new yearly rules take effect.
The decision was made by the Tony Award Productions, which is a joint venture of the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing.
Last July, the organizers of the Tonys decided to exclude from its voting body the members of the ‘first-night press list,’ a group of about 100 people that includes critics, reporters, some TV journalists and Internet reviewers. At the time, the Tonys claimed that journalists should be excluded because they had conflicts of interest.
The announcement spawned a quick backlash among journalists and other members of New York’s theater community. Some journalists argued that the Tony organizers’ explanation was specious and that critics actually have fewer potential conflicts than Broadway producers who have a vested interest in seeing their shows win awards.
Adam Feldman, the president of the New York Drama Critics’ Circle, said Thursday’s announcement represents ‘a significant step forward’ but added that he would like to see more of the excluded journalists back on the voting list.
People on the first-night press list who still cannot vote include TV journalists, some online reporters and some editors.
‘I feel we provide a useful corrective to the commercial interests that dominate the votership,’ Feldman said on the phone from New York. Feldman works as a theater critic for Time Out New York, a weekly magazine.
Members of the New York Drama Critics’ Circle will be able to vote again starting next season. They are still excluded from voting for the current season’s Tony Awards, which will be presented on June 13.
The New York Drama Critics’ Circle will present its own awards for the season on May 10. The organization includes reviewers for publications including Time Out New York, the Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly and the Village Voice.
-- David Ng