Playwrights Jeremy O. Harris, Martyna Majok, Tony Kushner, More Urged WGA to Allow the 2023 Tony Awards to Happen | Playbill

Tony Awards Playwrights Jeremy O. Harris, Martyna Majok, Tony Kushner, More Urged WGA to Allow the 2023 Tony Awards to Happen

Broadway's top honors will be handed out in an unscripted ceremony June 11 at United Palace in NYC's Washington Heights, reportedly hosted by Ariana DeBose.

Jeremy O. Harris Rebecca J Michelson

If you've been following the news around this year's Tony Awards, you know it's been a roller coaster. First we learned that the ceremony would get a new home, and its furthest ever from Broadway, United Palace in Washington Heights. Then a strike (the result of a breakdown in negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers over royalties for streaming titles and the potential use of A.I. in screenwriting, amongst other grievances) threatened to keep the Tonys from broadcasting live on TV.

But then we found out the ceremony would broadcast live after all, after the WGA accepted a last-minute proposal from Tony organizers that created a path forward without any work normally done by a WGA writer. What does that mean, exactly? Apparently this year's Tony Awards will be fully unscripted. Stage and screen star Ariana DeBose is reportedly still slated to host, but she will not be speaking from a script prepared and filed prior to the strike, nor will she perform an opening number written by Lin-Manuel Miranda—the Hamilton Tony winner was reportedly quick to rescind his work for the broadcast when the strike was called May 2.

And now we know how that surprising late reversal that saved Broadway's top honors came to be. Perhaps unsurprisingly, writers saved the day. According to a new report in The New York Times, Tony organizers had reportedly planned on using high-profile actors and politicians to make the case for a strike waver from WGA, but it was WGA members who also write for Broadway that actually brought the reversal into life. Amongst those involved in the campaign were 2023 Tony nominee Martyna MajokJeremy O. Harris, Tony Kushner, and David Henry Hwang—all of whom have written both for Broadway and Hollywood. All four were painfully aware of what the loss of the Tony broadcast could mean for an industry still struggling to make a post-pandemic comeback, and reportedly urged union leaders to allow the broadcast to continue.

Luckily, the notion of an unscripted Tony Awards seems to have placated all parties. WGA has seen a groundswell in support from the Broadway community, with actors and writers joining picket lines in solidarity. Finding a way to let this year's Tonys happen was about more than planning a ceremony without WGA writers. Without WGA approval, any possible ceremony would likely have been missing lots of Broadway notables, who would have hesitated to cross the picket line to attend the event. Luckily, Broadway's brightest will now be able to attend the Tonys without any concerns. 

Nominations for the Broadway honors were revealed May 2, with Some Like It Hot becoming the season's most nominated production with 13 nods. The title is one of five shows up for the venerated Best Musical Tony Award, along with & Juliet; Kimberly Akimbo; New York, New York; and Shucked. Up for Best Play are three works that are already Pulitzer winners: Between Riverside and Crazy, Cost of Living, and Fat Ham; along with Ain't No Mo' and Leopoldstadt. See the full list of nominations here.

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