In a dispute that would have warmed the frozen heart of The Front Page’s ruthless editor Walter Burns, The Hollywood Reporter rebuked Scott Rudin, producer of the Broadway revival of that show, for forcing critics to come no earlier than opening night.
Before the show’s opening, producer Scott Rudin notified overnight critics that he would not be making preview tickets available to them, as nearly all shows have been doing since the 1990s. Instead, Rudin insisted that critics should do as they did in 1928, when the show is set, and see the show on its opening night (in this case, October 20), then rush back to their newspaper offices and pound out their reviews in time for the late-night edition.
Most of the 2016 critics complied. But the New York Post quoted a private email from Hollywood Reporter critic David Rooney, who apparently balked at the change, saying he had a conflict, and adding, ”You know nobody works at that pace anymore, right?”
Rudin reportedly shot back, “Critics reviewed shows on Broadway this way for 100 years. You can do it for one night. Get over it.”
In a quoted response, Rooney reportedly needled, “Maybe Scott Rudin has opening night jitters?”
A production spokesperson told Playbill.com at the time, “We are excited for our modern critics to experience the glamour of a big Broadway opening. We just hope we've ordered enough champagne.”
Most reviews were published October 21, but Rooney’s did not appear until October 23.
Rooney’s review is topped the following editor’s note, which is listed in red type: “Due to a dispute with Scott Rudin, lead producer on The Front Page, The Hollywood Reporter's chief theater critic was prevented from attending a preview performance with a purchased ticket, and disinvited to opening night, so this review is appearing later than those of other outlets.”
However, the review goes on to give the production, especially star Nathan Lane, a thumbs-up, saying “in a performance that's a master class in the art of the ferocious farceur, Lane causes the energy level to skyrocket and stay aloft throughout the remainder of this sturdy chestnut....”
Asked for a response, a Front Page spokesperson told the Post, “Everyone at The Front Page is delighted that [Rooney] had the chance to review the show. Had we known how much he was going to love it, we’d have buried ye olde hatchet sooner!”