Labor dispute outside Tony Awards venue solved

Associated Press
FILE - In this June 7, 2009 file photo, actors perform a segment from the show Guys and Dolls at the 63rd annual Tony Awards in New York. A labor dispute is threatening to make a mess of the Tony Awards, forcing actors to cross picket lines to attend the red carpet for Broadway's biggest ceremony. The Tony Awards are scheduled to air on Sunday, June 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, file)
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FILE - In this June 7, 2009 file photo, actors perform a segment from the show Guys and Dolls at the 63rd annual Tony Awards in New York. A labor dispute is threatening to make a mess of the Tony Awards, forcing actors to cross picket lines to attend the red carpet for Broadway's biggest ceremony. The Tony Awards are scheduled to air on Sunday, June 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, file)

NEW YORK (AP) — The stagehands' union and producers of the Tony Awards reached an agreement Friday on how the show's red carpet area will be staffed, ending a labor dispute that threatened to derail Broadway's biggest night.

Members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees had vowed to picket near the Beacon Theatre, where the award show will be held Sunday evening. They were angry that producers of the show had nonunion workers setting up the red carpet area.

A deal between both sides was announced Friday afternoon, though no details were immediately disclosed. The union won its biggest demand — for union workers to staff the area.

"Both labor and management are satisfied with the terms and conditions of the agreement which will not be publicly disclosed," both sides said in a statement. "The red carpet staging area for this and future Tony Award shows at the Beacon Theater will be staffed by union labor."

The change in the Tony Awards' venue this year has put stress on producers. The ceremony was forced to leave its longtime home at Radio City Music Hall because Cirque du Soleil took over the art deco theater for its new show and Tony producers picked the 3,000-seat Beacon Theatre on the Upper West Side, which has only about half as many seats as Radio City.

The stagehands have traditionally set up the red carpet and tent outside the annual event, but because the show was moved to a new theater this year, the red carpet was moved a block south — outside the perimeter where the union is ensured jobs.

The dispute could have made celebrities uncomfortable crossing a picket line — complete with a giant inflatable rat — to be photographed on the red carpet.

Some of the big names invited to the Tonys include Daniel Radcliffe, Alec Baldwin, Christie Brinkley, Matthew Broderick, Whoopi Goldberg, Kelsey Grammer, Joel Grey, Samuel L. Jackson, James Earl Jones, Chris Rock, Brooke Shields, Robin Williams, Vanessa Redgrave and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

The deal does not mean that the Tonys will be drama-free, however. Musicians plan to perform outside the theater to protest what they say is the replacement of live music with recordings.

And members of the Freedom Party said they also will be protesting outside the Beacon Theatre, upset that "The Scottsboro Boys" received 12 Tony nominations. The musical frames the 1930s-era story of nine black teenagers wrongfully put on death row as a minstrel show, which the Freedom Party finds offensive.

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