Harvey Weinstein and Scott Rudin, two of the heaviest hitting Broadway producers have disinvited Tony Voters to two of their shows this year, ostensibly because these shows were overlooked and not nominated for any Tony awards this year. If the New York Post is correct, (always less than a sure thing) Weinstein's Finding Neverland and Rudin's Fish in the Dark won't be accommodating any new requests for free tickets for Tony voters this year.
It's easy to see the case these shows are making, and one may even sympathize with them. Yes, maybe it's sour grapes, but these two shows are making serious money, they are both audience favorites. Both Finding Neverland and Fish in the Dark are grossing over a million dollars a week, and I can see why they may balk at issuing free tickets to hundreds of Tony voters when they are not up for any awards. What's in it for them?
I've discussed Tony voter disinvitations before, here and here, but we have a slightly different situation this year. In both of these cases, Weinstein and Rudin have other horses in the race this year, and these disinvitations may very well impact other nominated shows.
In a statement about Finding Neverland being snubbed by the Tony nominators, Weinstein spoke not only of his pride in Finding Neverland, but also the other nominated shows his company has produced this year, including Wolf Hall, Parts One and Two, The Audience, The Elephant Man and Fun Home.
According to IBDB, the Internet Broadway Database, Scott Rudin has interests in The Audience, and Skylight, both nominated shows.
Could there be a backlash from Tony Voters, angry at Weinstein and Rudin, that might cause them to vote against these other nominated shows? I don't know, obviously, but is it out of the realm of possibility? Of course not.
If there were to be any retaliatory voting against any Weinstein or Rudin nominated productions as a result of these two cases of Tony voter disinvitations, it would certainly impact the outcome of several categories in this year's Tony awards. That would only serve to cheapen the value of the awards to the winners of these affected categories, through no fault of their own.
I believe that the American Theater Wing and The Broadway League should seek to create a new protocol that would require shows to make available Tony voter tickets to any Broadway production regardless of whether or not a show is nominated. Along with this reform, the ATW and the League should also enforce the rules for Tony voter tickets, and curb the abuses that go with these complimentary tickets. All too often, Tony voters misuse, sell or give away their tickets to shows, and this abuse must also stop.