Broadway journalists rally to support the theater press shut out of the 2024 Tony Awards red carpet: 'This is our Super Bowl.'

Theater journalists who've covered the ceremony for years were initially denied because of space.

FILE - Host Ariana DeBose speaks at the 76th annual Tony Awards on Sunday, June 11, 2023, at the United Palace theater in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)
The 2024 Tony Awards will be taking place in New York City on June 16, but the red carpet will be missing a number of celebrated theater journalists. (Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Drama is happening both on and off stage at the 2024 Tony Awards.

Last week, longtime members of the theater press were informed that while they will still be given access to the pressroom at the ceremony, they were disinvited to the red carpet. The awards, which celebrate the best of Broadway, will take place in New York City’s Lincoln Center on June 16. The ceremony will be broadcast live on CBS at 8 p.m. ET and will be available to stream on Paramount+ the next day.

The decision to exclude the theater press from the red carpet prompted complaints and frustration from theater journalists.

While the Tonys ultimately reversed course, inviting many of the initially snubbed journalists to join the preshow event, the controversy sparked dialogue about the role theater journalists have in the theater industry overall.

Yahoo News spoke to several journalists who were initially not included this year, including Kobi Kassal, founder of the theater website Theatrely, who said it’s been a “very frustrating and confusing couple of days” for his journalist colleagues.

“Of course, we want giant outlets to give national and global exposure to our industry, but for the folks who cover theater all yearlong, this is our Super Bowl,” he explained. “We need to be there to cover it for what we do.”

David Gordon, managing editor at TheaterMania, said he was denied access to film on the carpet, which the outlet has done for over a decade, though photos can still be taken.

“It was disheartening to see that so many of my colleagues had to write open letters and the like on social media in order to eventually be invited in,” he says, stressing that he believes there was no “ulterior motive” on the part of the Tony Awards.

Kassal told Yahoo News that the Tony Awards press team informed him and his colleagues that they weren’t invited due to a “lack of space” on the red carpet at Lincoln Center. Yahoo News reached out to Rogers and Cowan, the Tony Awards publicity team but didn’t immediately get a response.

Program director of SiriusXM’s On Broadway, Julie James, a 15-year veteran of the Tonys red carpet, was also initially denied access. In a June 14 post on X, she said she was “beyond deflated and disappointed, dare I say insulted” about being left out.

Broadway News executive editor Ruthie Fierberg and BroadwayWorld’s Richard Ridge were also denied red carpet access. GLAAD, the national LGBTQ media advocacy group that’s slated to release a report on queer representation on Broadway in coming months, also says it was denied red carpet credentials.

“I was very taken aback,” Kassal, who launched Theatrely in 2020 as a way to bolster the industry during a time when theaters were shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, says of the ordeal.

“My press colleagues, we're a very small, tight-knit community and we all uplift each other's work,” he said. “We were trying to grapple with the fact that the biggest night of the year we've been working towards for months was about to be here, yet we weren't going to be on the carpet.”

On June 13, Kassal wrote an open letter on Theatrely about the move, calling the news “disheartening to say the least.”

The extra attention seems to have led the Tony Awards to rescind its decision — with Kassal and James both confirming that they will be covering the carpet tonight.

“It was very flattering to see so many familiar faces from within the theater community rallying in support of us all,” says Gordon. “It's nice to see that they noticed and felt compelled to speak on our behalf.”

Not every outlet has been welcomed back to the red carpet, however. A source close to the situation tells Yahoo News that the Broadway News request for a spot on the red carpet was still denied as of this morning.

TV and film awards like the Oscars and the Emmys welcome a variety of mainstream outlets on the red carpet, but the Tony Awards has traditionally welcomed a mix of staff writers, theater critics and Broadway influencers with large fanbases.

Theater-focused publications like Playbill,, Broadway News and BroadwayWorld have long been go-to sources for theater news. With that comes a unique perspective and duty, says Kassal.

Gordon agreed, saying, “We're the ones who get people excited about the productions and players and help move tickets. At a perilous time such as this, when the COVID recovery is sort of stagnating without a return of suburban audience members, the more eyes, the better.”

The call to action, Kassal notes, is a reflection of how strong the theater community really is.

“I think it's just really, really important that we all work together to uplift the industry because it certainly needs the help,” he said.