If Councilman Phil Reed has his way, it may soon be a crime should your cell phone ring in the theatre. The New York Post reports that the East Harlem Democrat plans to introduce a bill at City Hall on Aug. 15 that would force theatregoers — as well as those attending movie theatres, libraries, galleries, concert halls and other recital venues — to turn off their beepers and cell phones.
"It happens all the time," Reed commented at City Hall, referring to the ringing of cell phones during a Broadway performance. "[The new bill] then gives the theatre owner the authority to tell people, 'You are violating the law, you have to leave.'" Reed also discussed that not only do cell phones ring in the theatre, but people actually have the nerve to strike up a conversation during a performance. "I think people are selfish," Reed added. "The phone conversations are so stupid. I would be embarrassed to have anybody listen to these inane conversations . . . [The bill] protects the people who are talking, so they don't look so stupid."
Those who attend Broadway shows have noticed that prior to performances, announcement now regularly ask patrons to switch off their cell phones and beepers. Lee Silver, a Shubert Organization spokesman, told the New York daily, "There is a voice from behind the stage that reminds people to turn their phones off just before the curtain goes up. We have never had a problem."
Fines and punishments for cell-phone-ringing theatregoers have yet to be decided.
—By Andrew Gans