THEATER: After a Nominator Is Denied Access, ‘1984’ Is Ineligible for Tonys

A scene from the play “1984,” which ran on Broadway but won’t be eligible for Tony Awards. CreditSara Krulwich/The New York Times


This year’s Broadway production of “1984” will be ineligible for Tony Awards because the production refused to allow the journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who is a member of the nominating committee, to see the play.

The play’s lead producer, Scott Rudin, did not explain why Mr. Vargas was denied access, and neither Mr. Rudin nor Mr. Vargas immediately offered any comment. Another lead producer, Sonia Friedman, said, “I don’t have a comment on the matter other than I am disappointed with the outcome.”

The Tony Awards administration committee made the unusual decision to disqualify “1984” during a meeting on Thursday. The awards rules require that producers invite all members of the Tony nominating committee — there are currently 49 — to a performance.


 Jose Antonio Vargas
Credit Kevork Djansezian/Reuters



“It was determined that not all elements of the required eligibility were fulfilled,” the awards administrators said in a statement Friday. “Both the production and the committee have discussed the matter in private. While all parties involved do not necessarily agree on the outcome, all parties agree that the issue was handled properly.”

A Tonys spokeswoman would not confirm that Mr. Vargas was denied access to the play, but several theater industry leaders confirmed that he was the excluded nominator. Last season, his first as a Tony nominator, he recused himself from voting.

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Mr. Vargas is a prominent immigration-rights advocate who in 2011, writing for The New York Times Magazine, acknowledged that he is an undocumented immigrant.

In 2010, he wrote critically about “The Social Network,” a movie about the founding of Facebook co-produced by Mr. Rudin.

A spokesman for Mr. Rudin denied that the article — which described the movie as “a simplistic take on a complex character masquerading as an important film” — had anything to do with Mr. Vargas being denied access to see “1984,” but declined to offer further explanation.

The play, adapted and directed by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan from the novel by George Orwell, ran from May 18 to Oct. 8. Its cast included Tom Sturridge, Olivia Wilde and Reed Birney, a Tony winner for “The Humans.”

The show cost $4 million to mount, according to documents on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It opened to mixed reviews, and grossed $6.9 million over 21 weeks, playing to audiences that ranged from 57 percent to 90 percent full. In total, it was seen by 112,232 people, according to the Broadway League.

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