Dramatists Guild Voices Objection to Upcoming Tony Awards

Tony Awards   Dramatists Guild Voices Objection to Upcoming Tony Awards Stephen Schwartz, president of the Dramatists Guild of America, issued a statement June 4 objecting to the presentation of the Best Book of a Musical Tony Award prior to the CBS telecast of the 2009 Tony Awards.
Stephen Schwartz
Stephen Schwartz

As previously announced, several awards will be presented during the hour preceding the 8 PM TV broadcast. Dubbed The Creative Arts Awards, these awards are webcast on TonyAwards.com beginning at 7 PM ET. A much smaller audience views this segment of the evening.

Tony Awards Productions has yet to officially announce which awards will be presented during the 7 PM hour — hosted by Tony winners Brian Stokes Mitchell and Laura Benanti — although last season's pre-telecast included the presentation of Best Scenic Design of a Play, Best Scenic Design of a Musical, Best Costume Design of a Play, Best Costume Design of a Musical, Best Lighting Design of a Play, Best Lighting Design of a Musical, Best Sound Design of a Play, Best Sound Design of a Musical and Best Orchestrations.

In his June 2 statement, composer Schwartz said, "The Guild objects in the strongest possible terms to the exclusion of this award from the live broadcast. We have received assurances in the past that the Tony producers recognize that this is an important award and that they would reinstate it in the show that everybody sees.

"As writers we understand that the television show needs to be entertaining in order to attract and hold its audience. And the Guild recognizes that many of its members' brother and sister artists, from designers to choreographers to orchestrators, will be similarly disadvantaged on Sunday night.

"Nevertheless, the theatre is always spoken of as 'The Writer's Medium,' as was even said in last year's broadcast. So it seems especially ironic that the awards show that purports to represent the theatre gives less recognition to writers than the motion picture industry's Academy Awards. "We strongly urge that the Best Book Award be put back where it belongs. Live, on the air."

The Dramatists Guild of America is the national association of playwrights, composers and lyricists.

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