Also while I've been gone...
The arguments continue over why the new $200 Grand playwriting mega-prize from the Steinbergs went to someone who's already one of the most propserous American dramatists.
As you may recall, Tony Kushner was selected by the select committee to inaugurate this uber-Pulitzer--slash--lifetime achievement award explicitly because of his already "high profile" status, thus ensuring good pr for the prize itself.
Michael Riedel has devoted not one but two columns to fuming about the perceived insularity of this.
They could have given the $200,000 to a young, unknown playwright, one who might be even more hard-up than Kushner. But instead they made the bold decision to select a writer who has only two Tonys, a Pulitzer, an Emmy and an Olivier Award on his shelf in his Upper West Side co-op.
As Zabel said, "We wanted to make a splash!"
Did they ever! They got a stand-alone story in the Times, which hardly ever covers the playwright (only 56 mentions in 2008).
I am 74 percent certain that getting a plug in the Times wasn't a factor in selecting Kushner.
Buried in the Mimi press release is the news that in 2009 some "emerging" playwright will get $50,000.
That's a nice gesture, but let's be honest: You can't "make a splash!" if you give money only to obscure writers who really are struggling
Interesting point that about the Times coverage specifically. Perhaps. But I suppose even I have to give them enough credit to consider it newsworthy if an organization gave even an unknown writer that much money.
But what looks worst of all are the grotesque hypocrisies and needless excesses of professional philanthropy these days.
The Mimi [as the award is called], which hoped to "make a splash!" by enriching Kushner, is throwing a big party later this month at Rockefeller Center....If they can give Tony $200,000, think of how much they'll spend on hors d'oeuvres.And remember, private philanthropy is all the assistance the theatre's going to get for a long while.