Tony Awards Protest Averted

11:30 AM PST 06/10/2011 by David Rooney

A threatened picket line by unions in front of Sunday's ceremony has been called off following the successful negotiations Friday morning between both sides in dispute.

The threat of a picket line outside Sunday night's Tony Awards ceremony by Local One of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the Broadway stagehands union, has been averted following the successful conclusion of negotiations on Friday morning between both sides.

Producers of the Tonys have agreed to allow union workers to organize the red carpet.

"The Tony Awards and Local One IATSE are very pleased that, together, we were able to reach an agreement, to produce the Tony Awards red carpet on Sunday evening.  The fact remains that Sunday is a true celebration of the Broadway community and all of the outstanding work that has been nominated this season," James J. Claffey, Jr. president of local one IATSE and Allan Williams, general manager of Tony Award productions, said jointly.

Given that arrivals are being filmed a block from the Beacon Theatre on New York's Upper West Side due to lack of adjacent sidewalk space, the area falls outside union jurisdiction. The Tony management had previously announced plans to use non-union workers on the red carpet as a cost-cutting measure after failing to reach an initial agreement with Local One.

The union threatened to muster 400 members and an inflatable rat to put a damper on the ceremony, possibly discouraging actors and presenters from crossing the picket line.

The Tonys have moved uptown this year from their regular home at Radio City Music Hall, due to a conflicting booking there of Cirque du Soleil's new show, Zarkana. Both Radio City and the Beacon are managed by Madison Square Garden Entertainment.

The 65th Annual Tony Awards will air live on CBS Sunday night, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris.

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