Monday, June 16, 2008

the contrarian: The (Godawful) Tonys

The theatah.

Say what you will about The Oscarcast and its well-fed bloat, it isn't nearly as annoying or as pathetic as The Tonys, which seems to exist within a universe unto itself - a world of entitlement, driven by the bliss of delusion.

Nothing else explains the rampant pretention or the misguided, insufferable sense of self-importance and solipsism that New York's theater community regularly exudes, especially on Tony night.

It's as if everyone connected with what Variety calls The Rialto watched "All About Eve" once too often, committed Joseph L. Mankiewicz's sharp, scathing but highly artificial script to memory and now actually (mis)takes it for reality.

It's camp, people.

This year's show reached its nadir of snobbery when playwright Tracy Letts in accepting his award for "August: Osage County," thanked his producers specifically for mounting "an American play on Broadway with theatre actors." Take that, you lowly film actors, so presumptuous enough to dare think that you're actually good enough for the theatah.

Frankly, to be fair, just about all show-business awards shows are anathma to me. But this one is absolutely the worst.

And why is it that only show people shower each other with fawning, pointless adulation? Why don't carpenters celebrate their crafts?

Or plumbers even?

I'm dead serious.

Note in Passing: The only tolerable moment on this year's Tonys came when "Boeing-Boeing" best-actor winner Mark Rylance - the risk-taking actor who notoriously performed unsimulated, real sex on screen in Patrice Chéreau's "Intimacy" (2001) - handily deflated the evening's parade of poseurs by reciting an extended quote from Lewis Jenkins' prose poem "Back Country," in lieu of an actual acceptance speech. It prompted a head-scratching response from the supposedly sophisticated audience.

It wasn't Rylance who was bizarre; it was everyone else.

He was also dead serious.

(Artwork: Poster art for Mankeiwicz's campy "All About Eve" and the amusing Mark Rylance)


Kathereine S. said...

Right on, about the Tonys! Andwhat was with all those stale numbers from old musicals taking up so much time? Let's start with the disrespect leveled at the acceptance speeches. Deanna Dunagan, the winning actress from "August: Osage County," was drowned out by the orchestra midway into her heartfelt speech. Why? Because the producers of the show thought it was more important for TV viewers to see scenes from "The Lion King" (yes, the "Circle of Life" number yet again) and "Rent," as well as numbers from current musicals not even nomianted this year. Talk about a moldy show!

David Baker said...

I like how no one connected with the awards or the show this year bothered to explain exactly who Antoinette Perry was. Or did I miss something? I kept dozing off.

Anonymous said...

The only awards show that I find even remotely tolerable is the one run by the Hollywood Foreign Press, The Golden Globes. They don't bother with the deadening production numbers and self-congratulatory film clips (from a time when movies were much better); they avoid a huge auditorium in favor of an intimate dining-room setting and they actually let their winners say "thank you." How novel! An awards show that lets its winner share their joy.