The Tony Awards should have been a celebration of The Band’s Visit, the beautifully underplayed musical about Egyptian musicians striking up fumbling temporary friendships with the residents of a dusty Israeli village, which captured ten awards including Best Musical, and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the spectacular new chapter in the kid-magic saga, which won Best Play and five other trophies.
Instead, all anyone is talking about is Robert De Niro, whose moronic ad-lib made the front page of the New York Post and was a top trending topic on Twitter this morning. CBS switched off the sound as De Niro, who was on hand to introduce Bruce Springsteen (whose Broadway show this season has also been a huge success) interjected, “I’m gonna say one thing: F*** Trump. It’s no longer ‘Down with Trump’; it’s ‘F*** Trump.'” The audience exploded in applause.
Broadway depends on tourists for a huge percentage of its ticket sales. Does it really want to broadcast an image of being hostile to the 40 percent or so of the country that supports the president? CBS was obviously prepared for editorializing and allowed nothing of what De Niro said about Trump to be heard by the TV audience. It didn’t just blank out the F word; it blanked out the entire Trump comment because it was completely inappropriate and didn’t belong. This was wise, but alas the public has a way of finding out things.
The people who should be most furious with De Niro are not Trump or his fans. The people who should be most furious with De Niro are the Tony honorees. This was their big night, the single opportunity they have each year to promote their craft to millions of TV watchers. Instead, De Niro had to unleash a childish, pointless rant and steal their spotlight. Shame on him.