If you are a theatre professional and feel that someone, or something, deserves to win a Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre, your letters, postcards, and exhortations are being requested.
In past years, the Tony Honors were named alongside the regular category winners and determined by the Tony administration committee behind closed doors. This year, in what appears to be a significant break with tradition, they are being determined, in part, by input from members of the industry and presented far later in the year.
Yet how the process is being implemented remains ambiguous. There is a webpage (www.tonyawards.com/honors) with information, including the deadline for nominations (Fri., Sept. 17) and an email address (email@example.com) to send them to. But other guidelines are lacking.
For example, the webpage asks the reader "to please consider who might merit such an important award and to share your thoughts with us" but does not specify who "your" refers to, leaving the impression that the general public can partake in the process.
Contacted by Back Stage, a Tony Honors spokesperson—willing to speak only on the condition of anonymity—said this is not so.
"Technically," said the source, "[nominations] are not open to the general public. It's kind of on the honor system." The emails are received by the office of Elizabeth I. McCann, the managing producer of the Tony Awards since 2001.
"What really happens," the source went on, "is the Tony administration committee has a long meeting and they come up with the actual winners." Thus, the request for nominations is about giving the committee a full range of candidates to choose from, although the bestowal of a big passel of awards is unlikely. While the Tonys may offer "an unlimited number" of honors, "three is the norm," according to the source.
Like last year, the Tony Honors will be distributed in the fall, rather than in June when the rest of the awards are handed out. Last year's winners were Paul Huntley, the Acting Company, Johnson-Liff Casting Associates, and the principal ensemble of "La Bohème."
The winners of the 2004 Tony Honors will be announced on Thurs., Sept. 23, and celebrated on Tues., Oct. 26 at a time and place still to be announced.