Approximately 100 members of the press received a very surprising notice yesterday. Journalists on what is known as the “First Night Press List” (i.e. the top priority theater journalists) were informed that they are no longer invited to vote for the Tony Awards. The letter came without warning and did not include much insight into what precipitated the decision. The only reason suggested was that the Tony Management Committee sees journalists as having a conflict of interest (some members of the press, notably those at the New York Times, already have a policy of not voting for such awards). Some people have noted that considering the remaining 700 Tony voters are made up primarily of theater owners, Broadway producers, publicists, theater artists, and others who clearly have a personal interest in the outcome of the awards, the Tony logic is backwards. Suspicions are that this move is another step for the Tony Awards to become even more commercial, where the results are more about rewarding the Broadway shows with the greatest commercial potential than those of the highest quality. Several members of the Broadway press have already made their displeasure clear in their publications. The remaining fallout should be interesting to observe. The Tonys could see a drop in press coverage if the spurned journalists turn vengeful.
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