High level meetings continue to take place between Actors’ Equity and the League of American Theatres and Producers over the “non-union” tours that may or may not remain eligible for the League’s new annual National Broadway Theatre Awards. While early meetings were conducted exclusively between Equity executive director Alan Eisenberg and League president Jed Bernstein, a select handful of Broadway Series producers have reportedly joined the discussions.
A determination on this issue could be forthcoming sometime next week, according to an informed source, although this could not be confirmed at press time.
The League recently announced its own awards program. Separate from the Tony's, the National Broadway Theatre Awards (NBTA) were originally intended to focus attention on Broadway tours by recognizing excellence in theatre outside New York. The problem with the awards concerns the theatrical union, Actors’ Equity, which called for a reduction in the scope of the League awards program in order to exclude non-union tours.
A franchise issue developed between Equity and the League: The union sought to increase its influence outside New York City while the League pursued its goal of generating national awareness and recognition for the “Broadway brand,” whether shows were union or not. Shows running outside New York City account for a large percentage of the League’s combined national grosses.
The NBTA controversy ended up involving two leading actors, John Ritter and Henry Winkler, who co-star in Neil Simon's current Broadway hit, The Dinner Party. Having first agreed to host the inaugural NBTA ceremony at the Supper Club on May 21, Ritter and Winkler were subsequently asked by Equity not to participate in the event. On a separate front, Equity has run an ambitious campaign during the past several months over the non-union Troika Productions revival of The Sound of Music. A publicized dispute between Equity and the show’s star, Barry Williams led to numerous headlines and a hearing which resulted in a $52,000 fine against the actor. Williams is appealing that fine now, but has already withdrawn from full membership (assuming what is called "financial core" status).
As the organization most closely associated with developing secure employment situations for theatrical actors, Equity has adopted a firm policy: When it comes to dealing with members who find themselves in an employment situation that Equity believes might threaten its franchise, it deals directly with the member. In that respect, Equity’s initial strategy with Ritter and Winkler resembles that used with Barry Williams, who was advised of the non-union nature of his work and then asked not to participate in the show.
In the case of Ritter and Winkler, however, the situation was different. Most significantly, the actors’ actual jobs were not the union’s concern, just the award show they had been asked to host. Playbill On-Line reached out to both actors on March 23 and both Ritter and Winkler responded to telephone inquiries immediately through their press reps.
Winkler’s press agent, Richard Grant, shared Winkler’s recollection of what occurred. Winkler told Grant that he and Ritter had been asked about hosting the NBTA awards over a month ago. The approach was made through a theatre PR firm, Winkler said. As it was first represented, the NBTA show was going to be good for theatre — an awards show where the theatre audiences would be voting on who should be winning the awards.
“It was gonna be about national theatre, the road companies,” Grant said, recalling Winkler’s description. “Neither Henry nor John had any clue as to this battle going on because of non-union productions on the road.”
Had that been made clear, Winkler told Grant, they never would have done it in the first place. Winkler told Grant that when Equity notified them [of the issues], they said they were out. "That was over four weeks ago," the actor said. Winkler also said that “...supposedly they are meeting next week to try and solve this problem.” Grant said that award show organizers wanted Henry and John to recommit, "and they would not.”
John Ritter’s press rep, Susan Wilcox contacted her client as well. Wilcox said that according to Ritter, “They have pulled out.” Ritter told Wilcox that he and Winkler “had been asked by the president of our union not to do it.” Acknowledging the level of controversy surrounding the issue, Ritter said that he and Winkler “didn’t want to do anything that was against our union.”
Wilcox said that Ritter also mentioned certain pre-recorded promos that he had done with Winkler for the NBTA show. These were to have been used in theatres, post-curtain, to raise awareness and participation for the audience voting. Through Wilcox, Ritter said that both he and Winkler had “asked that they be pulled.”
Details on any resolution between Equity and the League are expected as early as next week. The League declined official comment at this time and a calls to Equity was not returned by press time.
As reported earlier, unlike the Tony, Pulitzer, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, New York Drama Critics Circle, OBIE, Drama League and Lucille Lortel Awards, which are Broadway-only, the NBTA’s recognize national touring shows.
Informally nicknamed "The Star Awards" at this early stage, the NBTA winners will be chosen by audience vote, rather than by critics and theatre insiders.
As reported by Variety, which is the Awards' official media outlet, the vote is done via snail-mail ballot or the Internet, at www.nationalbroadwayawards.com. Potential voters fill out a registration form and are then sent a ballot tailored to their location. According to Award spokesperson Susan L. Schulman, for a show to be eligible for consideration, the producer must officially submit the show and pay an entrance fee.
Equity says the most noteworthy non-union shows currently running out of New York City are Annie, Chicago, Showboat and The Sound of Music.
As reported earlier, here are the 2001 National Broadway Theatre Awards Nominees:
ANNIE - Producer: NETworks Presentations
ANNIE GET YOUR GUN - Producers: Barry and Fran Weissler in association with Kardana-Swinsky Productions, Michael Watt and Hal Luftig
BARRY MANILOW'S COPACABANA - Producer: Pittsburgh CLO - Van Kaplan, Executive Producer; Roger Shiffman, Anita Drobny & The Paradigm Group; Dallas Summer Musicals - Michael Jenkins, President; American Musical Theatre of San Jose - Stewart Slater, President and Executive Producer
CABARET - Producers: SFX Theatrical Group in association with Eric and Scott Nederlander & Jujamcyn Productions
CHICAGO - Producer: Troika Entertainment, LLC
CINDERELLA - Producer: NETworks Presentations
DISNEY'S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST - Producer: Disney Theatricals
FAME - THE MUSICAL - Producers: Richard Martini, Adam Spiegel, Ronald Andrew, Allen Spivak and Albert Nocciolino
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF - Producers: Nederlander Presentations, Inc. and Sunset Attractions, Inc.
FOSSE - Producer: SFX Theatrical Group
LES MISÉRABLES - Producer: Cameron Mackintosh
MAMMA MIA! - Producers: Judy Craymer, Richard East and Björn Ulvaeus for Littlestar in association with Universal and David & Ed Mirvish
MAN OF LA MANCHA - Producer: Park Avenue Theatrical Group
MISS SAIGON - Producer: Cameron Mackintosh
PARADE - Producer: Christopher B. Manos, Theater of the Stars
RAGTIME - Producer: SFX Theatrical Group
RENT - Producers: Jeffrey Seller, Kevin McCollum, Allan S. Gordon and New York Theatre Workshop
RIVERDANCE - THE SHOW - Producer: Abhann Productions
SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER - Producers: Robert Stigwood and Jon B. Platt
SHOW BOAT - Producer: NETworks Presentations
STOMP - Producers: Richard Frankel, Marc Routh, Mitchell Maxwell, Alan Schuster, Susan Gallin, Harriet Newman Leve, Jennifer Manocherian, Columbia Artists Management, Inc., Dan Markley, Suki Sandler, Jim Stern/Stern Joint Venture, Morton Wolkowitz
SWING! - Producers: Marc Routh, Richard Frankel, Steven Baruch, Tom Viertel, International Concert Attractions, Rodger Hess, Timothy Childs, Jujamcyn Theatres, Libby Adler Mages, Mari Glick, Douglas Meyer, James Stern, TV Asahi/Hankyu, Mars Theatrical Productions
THE CIVIL WAR - Producer: NETworks Presentations
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA - Producers: Cameron Mackintosh, The Really Useful Theatre Company, Inc.
THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL - Producer: Radio City Entertainment, Ted Forstmann
THE SOUND OF MUSIC - Producer: Troika Entertainment, LLC
DAME EDNA: THE ROYAL TOUR - Author: Barry Humphries. Producers: Leonard Soloway, Chase Mishkin, Steven M. Levy and Jonathan Reinis
KING HEDLEY II Author: August Wilson. Producers: Sageworks, Benjamin Mordecai, Jujamcyn Theatres, Manhattan Theatre Club in association with Kardana-Swinsky Productions
THE GATHERING - Author: Arje Shaw. Producers: Martin Markinson, Lawrence S. Toppall, Patricia Greenwald in association with Diaspora Productions
THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES Author: Eve Ensler. Producers: David Stone, Willa Shalit, Nina Essman, Dan Markley/Mike Skipper, The Araca Group
ANNIE - David Reynolds as "Daddy Warbucks"
ANNIE GET YOUR GUN - Tom Wopat as "Frank Butler"
ANNIE GET YOUR GUN - Larry Storch as "Sitting Bull"
BARRY MANILOW'S COPACABANA - Franc D'Ambrosio as "Stephen/Tony"
BARRY MANILOW'S COPACABANA - Gavin MacLeod as "Sam Silver"
CABARET - Jon Peterson as "Emcee"
CHICAGO - Alex Rotella as "Billy Flynn"
CHICAGO - Stewart Brown as "Amos Hart"
CINDERELLA - Paolo Montalban as "The Prince"
CINDERELLA - Everett Quinton as "Wicked Stepmother"
DAME EDNA: THE ROYAL TOUR - Barry Humphries as "Dame Edna"
DISNEY'S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST - Grant Norman as "Beast"
DISNEY'S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST - Ed Staudenmayer as "Gaston"
FAME - THE MUSICAL - Christopher J. Hanke as "Nick Piazza"
FAME - THE MUSICAL - Carl Anthony Tramon as "Schlomo Metzenbaum"
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF - Theodore Bikel as "Tevye"
FOSSE - Terace Jones (Featured Dancer)
KING HEDLEY II - Brian Stokes Mitchell as "King Hedley II"
LES MISÉRABLES - Ivan Rutherford as "Jean Valjean"
LES MISÉRABLES - Stephen Bishop as "Javert"
MAMMA MIA! - David Mucci as "Bill Austin," Gary P. Lynch as "Sam Carmichael" and Lee MacDougall as "Harry Bright" MAN OF LA MANCHA - Jack Jones as "Don Quixote"
MAN OF LA MANCHA - Ron Holgate as "Don Quixote"
MISS SAIGON - Joseph Anthony Foronda as "The Engineer"
PARADE - David Pittu as "Leo Frank"
RAGTIME - Lawrence Hamilton as "Colehouse"
RAGTIME - Jim Corti as "Tateh"
RENT - Shaun Earl as "Angel Schunard"
RENT - Matt Caplan as "Mark Cohen"
RIVERDANCE - THE SHOW - Michael Patrick Gallagher (Principal Dancer)
SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER - Richard H. Blake as "Tony Manero"
SHOW BOAT - Phillip Boykin as "Joe"
SWING! - Alan H. Green (Performer)
SWING! - Charlie Marcus (Performer)
THE CIVIL WAR - Larry Gatlin as "Confederate Captain"
THE CIVIL WAR - Keith Byron Kirk as "The Abolitionist"
THE GATHERING - Hal Linden as "Gabe"
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA -Ted Keegan as "The Phantom of the Opera"
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA - John Cudia as "Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny"
THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL - Ron Bohmer as "Percy"
THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL - William Michals as "Chauvelin"
THE SOUND OF MUSIC - Barry Williams as "Captain George von Trapp"
THE SOUND OF MUSIC - Fred Armstrong as "Franz"
ANNIE - Victoria Oscar as "Miss Hannigan"
ANNIE GET YOUR GUN - Marilu Henner as "Annie Oakley"
ANNIE GET YOUR GUN - Suzann Fletcher as "Dolly Tate"
BARRY MANILOW'S COPACABANA - Darcie Roberts as "Lola"
BARRY MANILOW'S COPACABANA - Beth McVey as "Gladys"
CABARET - Andrea McArdle as "Sally Bowles"
CHICAGO - Tonya Wathen as "Roxy Hart"
CHICAGO - Heather Parcells as "Velma"
CINDERELLA - Eartha Kitt as "Fairy Godmother"
CINDERELLA - Deborah Gibson as "Cinderella"
DISNEY'S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST - Danyelle Bossardet as "Belle"
FAME - THE MUSICAL - Caren Lyn Manuel as "Carmen Diaz"
FAME - THE MUSICAL - Jennifer Gambatese as "Serena Katz"
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF - Susan Cella as "Golde"
FOSSE - Reva Rice (Featured Dancer)
KING HEDLEY II - Leslie Uggams as "Ruby"
KING HEDLEY II - Viola Davis as "Tonya"
LES MISÉRABLES - Diana Kaarina as "Eponine"
LES MISÉRABLES - Thursday Farrar as "Fantine"
MAMMA MIA! - Louise Pitre as "Donna Sheridan"
MAMMA MIA! - Tina Maddigan as "Sophie Sheridan"
MAN OF LA MANCHA - Marilyn Caskey as "Aldonza"
MISS SAIGON - Mika Nishida as "Kim"
MISS SAIGON - Christine Allocca as "Ellen"
PARADE - Andrea Burns as "Lucille Frank"
RAGTIME - Cathy Wydner as "Mother"
RAGTIME - Lovena Fox as "Sarah"
RENT - Maggie Benjamin as "Maureen Johnson"
RENT - Dominique Roy as "Mimi Marquez"
RIVERDANCE - THE SHOW - Tara Barry (Principal Dancer)
RIVERDANCE - THE SHOW - Rosa Manzano Jimenez (Flamenco Dancer)
SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER - Jeanine Meyers as "Stephanie Mangano"
SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER - Aileen Quinn as "Annette"
SHOW BOAT - Jodi Darling as "Magnolia"
SWING! - Ann Crumb (Performer)
SWING! - Sarah Jane Nelson (Performer)
THE CIVIL WAR - Dawana Gudger-Richardson as "Female Slave"
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA - Rebecca Pitcher as "Christine Daae"
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA - Julie Schmidt as "Carlotta Giudicelli"
THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL - Amy Bodnar as "Marguerite"
THE SOUND OF MUSIC - Jennifer Avery as "Maria Rainer" THE SOUND OF MUSIC - Emily K. Herring as "The Mother Abbess"
THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES - Starla Benford (Performer)
THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES - Sherri Parker Lee (Performer)
BEST SONG IN A MUSICAL
ANNIE "Hard Knock Life" - Music: Charles Strouse, Lyrics: Martin Charnin
ANNIE GET YOUR GUN "There's No Business Like Show Business" - Music and Lyrics: Irving Berlin
BARRY MANILOW'S COPACABANA "Who Needs To Dream" - Music: Barry Manilow, Lyrics: Bruce Sussman & Jack Feldman
CABARET "Cabaret" - Music: John Kander, Lyrics: Fred Ebb
CHICAGO "All That Jazz" - Music: John Kander, Lyrics: Fred Ebb
CINDERELLA "The Sweetest Sounds" - Music: Richard Rodgers, Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein II,
DISNEY'S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST "Be Our Guest" - Music: Alan Menken, Lyrics: Howard Ashman
FAME - THE MUSICAL "Fame" - Music: Michael Gore, Lyrics: Dean Pitchford
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF "If I Were A Rich Man" - Music: Jerry Bock, Lyrics: Sheldon Harnick
FOSSE "Steam Heat" - Music and Lyrics: Richard Adler & Jerry Ross
LES MISÉRABLES "Bring Him Home" - Music: Claude-Michel Schönberg, Lyrics: Alain Boublil, English Lyrics: Herbert Kretzmer
MAMMA MIA! "Dancing Queen" - Music and Lyrics: Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus
MAN OF LA MANCHA "The Quest (The Impossible Dream)" - Music: Mitch Leigh, Lyrics: Joe Darion
MISS SAIGON "I'd Give My Life For You" - Music: Claude-Michel Schönberg, Lyrics: Alain Boublil & Richard Maltby, Jr.
PARADE "The Old Red Hills of Home" - Music and Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown
RAGTIME "'Til We Reach That Day (1st Act Finale)" - Music: Stephen Flaherty, Lyrics: Lynn Ahrens
RENT "Seasons of Love" - Music and Lyrics: Jonathan Larson
RIVERDANCE - THE SHOW "Lift the Wings" - Music and Lyrics: Bill Whelan
SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER "Immortality" - Music and Lyrics: The Bee Gees
SHOW BOAT "Ol' Man River" - Music: Jerome Kern, Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein II
SWING! "Hit Me With A Hot Note and Watch Me Bounce" - Music and Lyrics: Duke Ellington & John George
THE CIVIL WAR "Freedom's Child" - Music: Frank Wildhorn, Lyrics: Jack Murphy
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA "The Music of the Night" - Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber, Lyrics: Charles Hart, Additional Lyrics: Richard Stilgoe
THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL "Into the Fire" - Music: Frank Wildhorn, Lyrics: Nan Knighton
THE SOUND OF MUSIC "Something Good" Music: Richard Rodgers, Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein, II
ANNIE - Music: Charles Strouse, Lyrics: Martin Charnin
ANNIE GET YOUR GUN - Music and Lyrics: Irving Berlin, Orchestrations: Bruce Coughlin
BARRY MANILOW'S COPACABANA - Music: Barry Manilow, Lyrics: Bruce Sussman & Jack Feldman, Orchestrations: Barry Manilow & Andy Rumble
CABARET - Music: John Kander, Lyrics: Fred Ebb
CHICAGO - Music: John Kander, Lyrics: Fred Ebb
CINDERELLA - Music: Richard Rodgers, Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein II, Original Orchestrations: Robert Russell Bennett, New Orchestrations: David Siegel, Arrangements: Andrew Lippa
DISNEY'S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST - Music: Alan Menken, Lyrics: Howard Ashman & Tim Rice, Orchestrations: Danny Troob
FAME - THE MUSICAL - Music: Steve Margoshes, Lyrics: Jacques Levy, Orchestrations: Harold Wheeler & Steve Margoshes
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF - Music: Jerry Bock, Lyrics: Sheldon Harnick
LES MISÉRABLES - Music: Claude-Michel Schönberg, Lyrics: Alain Boublil, English Lyrics: Herbert Kretzmer
MAMMA MIA! - Music and Lyrics: Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus
MAN OF LA MANCHA - Music: Mitch Leigh, Lyrics: Joe Darion
MISS SAIGON - Music: Claude-Michel Schönberg, Lyrics: Alain Boublil & Richard Maltby, Jr., Orchestrations: William Brohn
PARADE - Music and Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown, Orchestrations: Don Sebesky
RAGTIME - Music: Stephen Flaherty, Lyrics: Lynn Ahrens
RENT - Music and Lyrics: Jonathan Larson
RIVERDANCE - THE SHOW - Music, Lyrics and Orchestrations: Bill Whelan
SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER - Music and Lyrics: The Bee Gees, Orchestrations: Nigel Wright
SHOW BOAT - Music: Jerome Kern, Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein II
SWING! Music and Lyrics: Various Artists
THE CIVIL WAR - Music: Frank Wildhorn, Lyrics: Jack Murphy, Orchestrations: Kim Scharnberg
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA - Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber, Lyrics: Charles Hart, Additional Lyrics: Richard Stilgoe, Orchestrations: David Cullen & Andrew Lloyd Webber
THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL - Music: Frank Wildhorn, Lyrics: Nan Knighton, Orchestrations: Kim Scharnberg
THE SOUND OF MUSIC - Music: Richard Rodgers, Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein II,
ANNIE - Martin Charnin
ANNIE GET YOUR GUN - Jeff Calhoun
BARRY MANILOW'S COPACABANA - David Warren
CABARET - Sam Mendes & Rob Marshall
CHICAGO - Walter Bobbie
CINDERELLA - Gabriel Barre
DISNEY'S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST - Robert Jess Roth
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF - Sammy Dallas Bayes
FOSSE - Ann Reinking
KING HEDLEY II - Marion McClinton
LES MISÉRABLES - Trevor Nunn & John Caird
MAMMA MIA! - Phyllida Lloyd
MAN OF LA MANCHA - Jeffrey B. Moss
MISS SAIGON - Nicholas Hytner
PARADE - Harold Prince
RAGTIME - Frank Galati
RENT - Michael Greif
RIVERDANCE - THE SHOW - John McColgan
SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER - Arlene Phillips
SHOW BOAT - Clayton Phillips
STOMP - Luke Cresswell & Steve McNicholas
SWING! - Lynne Taylor-Corbett
THE CIVIL WAR - Stephen Rayne
THE GATHERING - Rebecca Taylor
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA - Harold Prince
THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL - Robert Longbottom
THE SOUND OF MUSIC - Susan H. Schulman
THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES - Abby Epstein
ANNIE GET YOUR GUN - Jeff Calhoun
BARRY MANILOW'S COPACABANA - Wayne Cilento
CABARET - Rob Marshall
CHICAGO - Ann Reinking
CINDERELLA - Ken Roberson
DAME EDNA: THE ROYAL TOUR - Cynthia Onrubia
DISNEY'S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST - Matt West
FAME -THE MUSICAL - Lars Bethke
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF - Sammy Dallas Bayes (Reproduced from Jerome Robbins' Original Choreography)
FOSSE - Bob Fosse
MAMMA MIA! - Anthony Van Laast
MAN OF LA MANCHA - Connie Shafer
MISS SAIGON - Bob Avian
PARADE - Patricia Birch
RAGTIME - Graciela Daniele
RENT - Marlies Yearby
SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER - Arlene Phillips
SHOW BOAT - Ken Roberson
STOMP - Luke Cresswell & Steve McNicholas
SWING! - Lynne Taylor-Corbett
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA - Gillian Lynne
THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL - Robert Longbottom
THE SOUND OF MUSIC - Michael Lichtefeld
BEST VISUAL PRESENTATION (Scenic and Lighting Design)
ANNIE GET YOUR GUN - Scenic Design: Tony Walton, Lighting Design: Beverly Emmons
BARRY MANILOW'S COPACABANA - Scenic Design: Derek McLane, Lighting Design: Don Holder
CABARET - Scenic Design: Robert Brill, Lighting Design: Peggy Eisenhauer & Mike Baldassari
CHICAGO - Lighting Design: Ken Billington
CINDERELLA - Scenic Design: James Youmans, Lighting Design: Timothy Hunter
DAME EDNA: THE ROYAL TOUR - Scenic Design: Kenneth Foy, Lighting Design: Jason Kantrowitz
DISNEY'S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST - Scenic Design: Stanley A. Meyer, Lighting Design: Natasha Katz
FAME - THE MUSICAL - Scenic Design: Norbert U. Kolb, Lighting Design: Richard Winkler
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF - Scenic Design: Steve Gilliam (Based Upon Boris Aronson's Original Designs), Lighting Design: Ken Billington
FOSSE - Scenic Design: Santo Loquasto, Lighting Design: Andrew Bridge
KING HEDLEY II - Scenic Design: David Gallo, Lighting Design: Donald Holder
LES MISÉRABLES - Scenic Design: John Napier, Lighting Design: David Hersey
MAMMA MIA! - Scenic Design: Mark Thompson, Lighting Design: Howard Harrison
MAN OF LA MANCHA - Lighting Design: Charlie Morrison
MISS SAIGON - Scenic Design: John Napier, Lighting Design.