Julie Withdraws. What Now?

Tony Awards   Julie Withdraws. What Now?
 
Julie Andrews' decision to decline her nomination for a 1996 Tony Award is without precedent for a star of her magnitude in theatre. It raises several troubling and fascinating questions for the Tony Awards committee -- and for theatre fans:
Julie and her
Julie and her "overlooked" cast just after her speech Photo by Photos by Starla Smith

Julie Andrews' decision to decline her nomination for a 1996 Tony Award is without precedent for a star of her magnitude in theatre. It raises several troubling and fascinating questions for the Tony Awards committee -- and for theatre fans:

* Is Julie Andrews being one of the great leading ladies in history and putting her identification with her ensemble ahead of all personal consideration? Or is she throwing one of the great diva tantrums of all time?

* Since Andrews' name will remain on the ballot, what will happen if she wins? Who, if anybody, will accept the award? If nobody accepts, how will the Tonys explain that to a TV audience that knows Andrews better than any other nominee?

* Does declining the nomination also mean Victor/Victoria is also declining a chance to do a number from the show on the Tony broadcast? If a number IS used, will Julie decline to appear in it? If not, which number will they use? Listen to the cast album again and try to pick one.

* What will Tony show host Nathan Lane say about all this during the June 2 broadcast? Oscar host Whoopi Goldberg poked fun at protesters outside that awards show. Lane is not one to forebear using juicy material.* If you were the producer of the Tony Awards broadcast, how would YOU handle the Julie Andrews situation on the show? Would you try to defuse it genteelly? Would you try to milk it to boost ratings? Would you follow another course?

* Will Tony voters, who likely would have gift-wrapped the award to Andrews, now turn against her and give the award to one of the other three nominees -- or will they turn against the already-vilified 14-member nominating committee and vote the award to Julie by an even wider margin?

* If voters turn against Andrews, who will get the Best Leading Actress in a Musical Award? Donna Murphy of King and I (a 1994 winner for Passion)? Crista Moore of Big (whose show and co-star were not nominated)? Or Daphne Rubin-Vega of Rent (as part of a Chorus Line-like sweep for her show)?

* What will a non-Andrews Best Actress winner say about Andrews in her acceptance speech?

* What kind of pressure does this put on Crista Moore, whose show Big was, like Victor/Victoria, not nominated for Best Musical -- but which was, UNlike V/V nominated for four other awards?

* If a backlash against the Tonys develops into a box-office bonanza for Victor/Victoria, will Big and other snubbed shows feel pressured to decline their nominations as well?

* Will Andrews' action set a precedent for future stars whose vehicles are not nominated? I.e. will future Tony nominators be held hostage by a love-me-love-my-show threat?

* Taking note of V/V's ads and commercials trumpeting the show's Outer Critics Circle Awards win as Best Musical of the season, but totally ignoring the Tonys -- and now Andrews' withdrawal of her nomination -- does this mean that V/V is primly at war with the Tonys? If so, who will win? What happens in the long run if Victor/Victoria wins, and the Tonys are discredited?

* If Andrews wins the PR war, will the Tony nominating procedure be overhauled? Will any of this year's nominators be asked back next year? Will the Tonys be hopelessly compromised and corrupted? Or will this all be a trivia footnote and things go along pretty much the way they have for 50 years?

* Is the massive, international publicity for this contretemps ultimately good for Broadway -- or bad?

Talk amongst yourselves, then post your answers to any or all of these questions on Playbill On-Line Bulletin Boards on the online services. Or email your thoughts to robert_viagas@playbill.com. Selections from the most thoughtful answers will be posted in the Tony section of Playbill On-Line's website.

-- By Robert Viagas

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