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So Long, Farewell, Tony Swag!

No more brown-paper packages tied up with string.

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Around this time each year, the roughly 750 Tony Award voters are usually bombarded with tchotchkes from hopeful Broadway producers. But in January, Tony officials placed serious limits on the swag. Between now and the June 11 awards ceremony, producers can only mail out a CD, a script, and the souvenir program available in theater lobbies. “We are ladies and gentlemen of the theat-uh,” says Elizabeth I. McCann, the Tonys’ managing producer. “We’re not like the common folks in Hollywood.” She’s only half-joking; Oscar-style campaigns for Best Musical appear to have gained traction in recent years. Hairspray, the 2003 winner, had sent out custom lunch boxes full of beauty products. Avenue Q, in 2004, delivered a special CD with a ditty urging members to “Vote Their Hearts.” Last year, Spamalot mailed musical coconuts and killer-rabbit puppets. Violators will lose their voting privileges. But rigid enforcement may be beside the point: Tony-winning producer Hal Luftig suggests that coconuts don’t win awards. “If I’m nominated again, I’m sending every Tony voter on a summer cruise,” he says. “That’s how you buy votes.”


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