Does a performer have an intrinsic right to be considered for a Tony Award nomination?
Jackie Mason thinks so, and to prove his point, he filed a $25 million lawsuit in New York state Supreme Court against the five organizations that select the Tony nominees. He charged that their failure to consider him this year for his one-man Broadway show, "Jackie Mason: Politically Incorrect," constitutes discrimination.Harvey Sabinson, the executive director of the League of American Theaters and Producers, which was named in the lawsuit, said that he could not comment directly on the suit because he was not aware of it.
But he did say, "One-man shows have never fallen within the guidelines." What's more, Sabinson said, "We recognized Jackie Mason when he first came to Broadway in 1987 and gave him a special Tony Award then."
Mason no longer has that Tony; he returned it in protest on June 7, five days before this year's Tonys were awarded.
Contending that Mason met all of the requirements for a Tony nomination, Mel Sachs, his lawyer, said, "They failed to abide by his human and civil rights and didn't give him the proper opportunity to enhance his economic, cultural and intellectual life."
Mason said, without a hint of humor: "It was an abridgment of my rights as a human being. They can't stand a guy with a big mouth who doesn't conform to the elitism of the inner circle."