Urban Cowboy Best Score Debate Continues

News   Urban Cowboy Best Score Debate Continues The April 24 ruling by the Tony Award Administration Committee that the Urban Cowboy score would be ineligible for a Best Score nomination — because it features many songs not specifically written for the theatre — continues to be in question.

Pete Sanders, the press representative for Urban Cowboy, told Playbill On-Line April 25 that the Tony committee "never discussed the Urban Cowboy score." Leonard Soloway, an Urban Cowboy producer who sits on the Administration Committee, informed Sanders of the news. Added Sanders, "There was no special petition made because there are enough new numbers in the show to qualify for a Best Score nomination."

Keith Sherman, a spokesperson for the Tony Awards, spoke to Playbill On Line April 28 and was sympathetic to the plight of the Urban Cowboy producers. "We feel badly," Sherman said. "We certainly want to do the right thing. If a mistake was made, [the producers] will let us know. But based on the opening-night Playbill, the committee determined that the score wasn't eligible. But if [the producers] come back and say a mistake was made and these songs were indeed written for the theatre, [then we'll take another look]."

Playbill On-Line spoke with Urban Cowboy producer Soloway April 28, who said that he has already spoken with the Tony Administration Committee, and “we have given them proof . . . [that] more than half of the score has been written just for the show. It will be considered at the next meeting, which is in two weeks, and I’m sure it will be eligible.” Soloway also explained that the show features 23 songs of which 14 are original, adding, “Two of them, although not commissioned for the show, were never published before and did have changes made in them to fit in the show. So, even without those two, we still have 12 [original tunes] out of 23.”

Sherman also spoke a bit about the history of the Best Score category. "There is not a hard and fast rule," Sherman said, "but the [Tony] committee has used 'more than half [written for the theatre]' as a guideline for [determining eligibility] . . . . It's played out in shows like Saturday Night Fever and Footloose. Footloose was eligible [for Best Score], Saturday Night Fever was not. [Saturday Night Fever's score was comprised mainly of songs written for the source film, while only seven of Footloose's 16 tunes were from the film score.] The Lion King score was eligible because more than half of its score was written for the Broadway production — [only] five out of eighteen songs were taken from the film, the rest was written for the musical."

The Tony Awards Administration Committee will meet May 8. Nominations for the 2003 Tony Awards will be announced by John Lithgow and Melanie Griffith May 12 at Sardi's Restaurant.