Bruce Springsteen performing at the Tony Awards is surprising enough for theatre enthusiasts, but another moment during the June 10 telecast was even more unexpected. What did Robert De Niro say at the Tony Awards? Part of his presentation was completely censored by CBS. While he may have been totally blanked, Twitter came to the rescue and took Broadway fans inside the room where it happened.
According to People reporter David Quinn on Twitter: "For those watching at home, De Niro said, 'I'm going to say this — F*CK TRUMP. It's no longer 'Down with Trump,' it's F*CK TRUMP.'"
The bleeps may have silenced the broadcast, but it was clear that the room was going wild. People were standing, laughing. There haven't been so many shocked faces at an awards show since the Moonlight/La La Land debacle of 2017. According to Scott Feinberg of The Hollywood Reporter, the production crew didn't know what to make of De Niro's declaration.
"After De Niro, CBS told us to do something drastic" said co-host Josh Groban said when he and fellow co-host Sara Bareilles appeared in drag as each other's broadway characters from Waitress and Natasha, Pierre, And The Great Comet Of 1812.
Of course, the moment went viral as well. Hilarious jokes about what he may have said, and then some first hand accounts.
As one user put it — even before the folks at home knew for sure that De Niro had used his bleep out moment to slam the President, most of us basically guessed that that's what had happened... right?
Fair. In case you missed the broadcast altogether — De Niro was there to introduce Springsteen because the performer received a Special Tony Award for Springsteen on Broadway. The Academy Award-winning actor didn't completely steal the spotlight, as Springsteen performed moments after. The actor also made some more musical theatre-oriented jokes in his introduction after that explosive start, calling Springsteen's show Jersey Boy and saying that tickets were more difficult to get than 2016 Best Musical winner Hamilton.
There is some as yet un-bleeped video footage on Twitter from a Tony audience member watching in Australia, if you so desire to check it out. Just, you know, strong language warning!
Earlier this week, according to Page Six, De Niro went off on the current administration while speaking to High School writing students in New York City.
“The one characteristic that comes through all of your work that I read," he said, "and that is the same quality of everything that Jimmy Breslin wrote, is the truth. Our country is led by a president who believes he can make up his own truth. And we have a word for that — bullsh*t. So what about the truth? What does the truth even mean today? I mean, if you’re Donald Trump it doesn’t mean anything."
The backlash to this from Washington will be interesting to say the least. Will it somehow tied to that Hamilton versus Mike Pence incident? This isn't the first time that the Broadway community has spoken out against the leaders in the White House — though when Tony presenter Brandon Victor Dixon addressed the Vice President at Hamilton, the circumstances and the message were a bit different.
Overall, the 2018 Tony Awards were a celebration of inclusivity, tolerance, and acceptance. The entire room awkwardly sang "Happy Birthday" to Harry Potter And The Cursed Child director/co-writer John Tiffany's boyfriend David. Both Carousel winner Lindsay Mendez and The Band's Visit winner Ari'el Stachel talked about being asked to hide their racial identities early on in their career. De Niro's quick diatribe may have caused an uproar but love, connection, and the tenacity of the human spirit won the night.