Synchronize your watches. At 8:30 AM, Monday morning, May 5, at Sardi's Restaurant in New York City's theatre district, Tony nominations for the 1996-97 Broadway season will be announced.
Among the 26 Nominating Committee members for this year's Awards are Betty L. Corwin, theatre archivist; David Ives, playwright; Geoffrey Holder, director; Sheldon Harnick, lyricist; Merle Debuskey, former press agent; Price Berkley, publisher; David Richards and Douglas Watt, critics; Barnard Hughes, actor, Donald Brooks, Mary Schmidt Campbell, Marge Champion, Gretchen Cryer, Tom Dillon, Mallory Factor, Robert Fitzpatrick, Brendan Gill, Jay Harnick, Charles Hollerith, Robert Kamlot, Peter Neufeld, Dorothy Olim, Franklin R. Weissberg, George White, Edwin Wilson and Robert McDonald. Both set designer Ming Cho Lee and Jon Robin Baitz resigned their positions on the committee earlier this year, Baitz because of a heart ailment.
The Tony administrators met Thursday, May 1 to coordinate the awards. On Sunday, May 4, the nominating committee will meet in the evening to choose nominees, the following morning at 8:40, the decisions will be announced. NY-1, "CBS This Morning" and "Good Day New York" will all cover the nomination announcements live, May 5.
One unconfirmed report (published in the New York Post) has the Tony officials approaching actress Julie Andrews about receiving a special lifetime achievement award, or at least being a presenter during this year's broadcast. If true, this would mean the American Theatre Wing and League Of American Theatres & Producers were trying to smooth feathers ruffled last year when Andrews refused to accept her Best Actress nomination because no one else from Victor/Victoria was similarly acknowledged. If true, this would also fit with this year's agenda to make the Tony broadcast more of a promotion for Broadway than just an acknowledgment of excellence this season.
The importance of the Tonys has not been lost on the producers. Giant, quote-filled ads for The Life and Titanic, as well as full-page ads for Jekyll & Hyde, Steel Pier and Candide, were taken for the NY Times Weekend section, May 2. The Tonys will take place from 8-11 PM, June 1, with the first hour broadcast on PBS, the rest on CBS.
--By David Lefkowitz