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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 May, 2004, 09:17 GMT 10:17 UK
Theatre chief defends Tonys
The Boy From Oz
Hugh Jackman was nominated in the best musical actor category
A prominent organiser of Broadway's Tony Awards has spoken out after they were attacked in the New York Times.

Columnist Daniel Okrent branded the Tonys "artistically meaningless, blatantly commercial, shamefully exclusionary and culturally corrosive".

But Jed Bernstein, president of the League of American Theatres and Producers, said the claims were untrue.

"Any assertion that the Tonys are somehow a creature of the theatre owners is ridiculous," he said.

Mr Okrent said Tony eligibility is restricted to the biggest venues, which are largely controlled by a trio of theatre chains.

He went on to bemoan the lack of attention paid to smaller, more inventive stage productions.

No apology

Speaking at a reception for this year's Tony nominees, Mr Bernstein said he made no apology for the awards recognising the best on Broadway.

Boy George and Euan Morton
Scottish star Euan Morton was also nominated for his role in Taboo

"The Tonys have never pretended to be anything but a Broadway award," he said.

"The best actress Tony Award is not for the best performance of the year anywhere in American theatre - they give the best performance on Broadway. That's what the Tonys have always been," he said.

Wizard of Oz prequel Wicked, a musical about life on the Yellow Brick Road, won 10 Tony Award nominations earlier this week.

Other musicals picking up multiple nominations include Stephen Sondheim's Assassins and Fiddler on the Roof.

Hollywood star Hugh Jackman, nominated for The Boy From Oz, will host the theatrical awards on 6 June.


SEE ALSO:
Wicked musical leads Tony field
10 May 04  |  Entertainment
Boy George's Broadway Taboo ends
14 Jan 04  |  Entertainment
Tonys gay kiss makes waves
10 Jun 03  |  Entertainment
Hairspray wins eight Tonys
09 Jun 03  |  Entertainment


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