Broadway Won't Dim Its Lights For Joan Rivers, So Why Isn't She Getting This Traditional Tribute?
Update: After fans made their voices heard, Broadway did, in fact, dim the lights Tuesday evening. The world's lost its share of icons this summer. The flurry of tributes and remembrances that always follow these losses are, for the wider public, often a key phase of the process of moving on. So the news that Broadway won't be dimming its lights for Joan Rivers is one certain to leave many upset — especially considering Rivers is a Tony nominee.
When Robin Williams died, Broadway followed its tradition of honoring Broadway vets by dimming the lights of its theaters. At the time executive director the Broadway League Charlotte St. Martin remarked on the honor, telling The Hollywood Reporter:
Robin Williams was a comedic genius with limitless talent and stunning versatility who left this world far too early. He made an impact on everyone he met or entertained. Whether on screen or live on stage, his multifaceted talent always created memorable performances. Robin Williams will be greatly missed and our thoughts are with his family, friends and fans.
So why isn't Rivers — who appeared on Broadway three times and was nominated for a Tony in 1994 for her performance in Sally Marr...And Her Escorts — been given the same honor following her passing? According to Martin's comments to The New York Times Rivers just doesn't meet the criteria:
Under our criteria people need to have been very active recently in the theater, or else be synonymous with Broadway — people who made their careers here, or kept it up. We love Joan — she was very supportive of Broadway and came to a lot of show openings — but she hasn’t acted on Broadway in 20 years. When you say Joan Rivers, you don’t think comedy, television and Broadway. You think comedy and television. It’s certainly nothing against her.
It's certainly a blow to those looking to see Joan Rivers tributes in every relevant space that Broadway isn't honoring her after her admitted support and participation — but in the realm of blows it's a relatively small one. Rivers tributes will no doubt be cropping up for the foreseeable future, up and through next year's Emmy In Memoriam.
The dimming of the Broadway lights would have been a lovely tribute to Rivers' life and career highlights, and it's a bummer it's one she's not getting. We'll just collectively have to find a way to honor her more loudly than Broadway would have.