I've got to agree with Rocco at What's Good/What Blows: the Tony voters should just go see the shows. (Hey, that rhymes!)
Rocco was referring to a Bloomberg News article by Jeremy Gerard about the voters who decide Broadway's best. (The article says there are 797 voters, but the Tony Awards Web site pegs the number at about 750, which is says fluctuates from year to year, and a New York Times article about Tony predictions puts the number at 796.) "The voters' only obligation is to see each of the 36 shows that opened this season. Many of them -- hundreds, in fact -- didn't bother, even though they certify their attendance when casting their ballots."
One example cited in the article happens to be one of my favorite shows from the past year - Laurence Fishburne's mesemerizing one-man performance in Thurgood. A member of Thurgood's production team told Gerard that less than 40 percent of the voters have seen the show, about the civil-rights lawyer and Supreme Court justice. If they haven't seen it, they're not supposed to vote in the category of Best Actor in a Play, in which Fishburne received a nomination. But of course, some of them probably will.
Ok, maybe the article isn't that revelatory. I'm sure similar things happen with the Oscars and the Emmys. There's always a tendency in cases like this to sound like Captain Renault in Casablanca: I'm shocked, shocked!
Like the Tonys, the Oscar ballot clearly indicates that you're not supposed to vote in a category in which you haven't seen every nominee. Remember the controversy in 2006 when several members of the Motion Picture Academy, including Ernest Borgnine and Tony Curtis, said they had no intention of watching Best Picture nominee Brokeback Mountain because of the gay love story at the center of its plot?
And the Academy's documentary branch came under criticism in 1995 when the widely acclaimed Hoop Dreams failed to receive a nominaton. Director Martin Scorsese famously said he heard that the members of the documentary nominating committee switched off his 1978 rock 'n' roll film The Last Waltz after 10 minutes because it was "too loud."
The difference with the Tony Awards is that there are so few voters - and so few shows - that you'd think they'd consider it a personal obligation to see each and every one.
And doesn't it make sense that they would? I mean, they're a Tony voter because they have some affiliation with and love for the theatre, right? There were only 36 shows that opened this year. It's not a herculean task, especially if you live in New York City. (I realize some voters may not live near New York City). They get free tickets, don't they? Wouldn't they want to see each and every show?
What really gets to me is that if I had the opportunity, I'd love to be able to see every show that opens on Broadway. I'd even see some of them more than once.