The League of American Theatres and Producers and the American Theatre Wing have made up. In a sudden reversal of recent tensions between the two organizations, which jointly present the Tonys, the League and the Wing have singed a five-year contract extension, taking their partnership through 2004.
The agreement between the Tonys and CBS was also extended until 2004. The contract by which PBS-Channel 13 broadcasts an hour-long, pre-Tony program was extended by one year. This year's show will take place June 6, beginning on PBS at 8 PM EST and continuing on CBS 9-11 PM.
"We are pleased that we have been able to renew our partnership into the Millennium," said Wing president Roy Somlyo and League executive director Jed Bernstein in a joint statement, "and look forward to many successful Tony Awards in the future."
No host or theatre has been chosen for the event.
* Last summer, the often fractious marriage between the League and the Wing seemed to be breaking up. The League, which for more than 30 years has contracted with the Wing (ATW) to present the Tony Awards, sent a letter saying it would not renew its agreement with the Wing. "They've terminated the contract," said Somlyo at the time. "I take no for an answer." League President Jed Bernstein, meanwhile, expressed more hope for the future of the partnership. "We fully expect that all of this will be ironed out and for things to go on happily ever after," he told Playbill On- Line.
The conflict stemmed from an ongoing clash concerning the Wing and League's differing designs on the Tonys. "The wing is a charity," Somlyo told Playbill On-Line. "It's not-for-profit. The League's purpose is the marketing of its product. I understand that, but it doesn't give them the right to commercialize the Tonys."
Somlyo said the League had prepared a revised contract regarding the presentation of the Tonys, and the Wing subsequently submitted a response to that contract. "I then sat in on a meeting in which the League rejected everything the Wing asked for."
The League, which represents Broadway theatre owners and producers, then introduced two new demands which Somlyo termed "unacceptable." He would not elaborate on the nature of the demands except to say they involved the further commercialization of the Tonys, "the concept of marketing the Tony Award [and] the use the Tony Award to market the League's interests."
"None of the issues of the table were financial in nature and none of the issues affected the awards themselves," said Bernstein. "They had to do with the business relationship of producing and managing the event."
The Wing had decided to approve the contract without asking for changes when it received a letter from the League on July 31 stating the latter did not intend to renew its agreement to produce the Tonys. That pact was to expire after the 1999 awards. In Variety, Bernstein characterized that letter as the product of a contract "quirk" that requires a party intending not to renew the agreement to inform the other party by July 31.
Ironically, that removal of that clause was one of the original suggestions made by the Wing during negotiations, said Somlyo. "The league rejected that," he said.
-- By Robert Simonson