After a backlash for its decision not to dim its lights in honor of the late Joan Rivers, the Broadway League announced Tuesday it has reversed its decision.
“Joan Rivers loved Broadway and we loved her. Due to the outpouring of love and respect for Joan Rivers from our community and from her friends and fans worldwide, the marquees of Broadway theatres in New York will be dimmed in her memory," Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of the Broadway League in a statement. The Great White Way will dim its lights at 6:45 p.m. on Sept. 9, the league said.
In an earlier interview with the New York Times, St. Martin said the league decided not to dim Broadway’s lights in Rivers’ honor because she didn’t meet the necessary criteria. “Under our criteria people need to have been very active recently in the theater, or else be synonymous with Broadway -- people who made their careers here, or kept it up.” Rivers has not acted on Broadway in 20 years.
After the league’s initial decision was made, the New Amsterdam Theatre, the Helen Hayes Theater, Studio 54, Stephen Sondheim and all five Jujamcyn Theaters announced they would dim their lights anyway. A Twitter hashtag, #Dim4Joan, was started by fans demanding her memory be honored.
Rivers, who died Thursday at the age of 81, had appeared on Broadway three times. She earned a Tony nomination in 1994 for her performance in “Sally Marr,” losing to Diana Rigg in “Medea.”
Broadway has a tradition of dimming its lights in tribute to late stars. Most recently, Robin Williams was honored with the tribute following his death last month. He appeared on Broadway twice, but was not nominated for a Tony Award.
Broadway’s lights were dimmed for James Gandolfini, who was nominated for a Tony Award in 2009 for “God of Carnage,” and for Lauren Bacall, a two-time Tony Award winner. In 2010, nine Broadway theaters owned by the Nederlander Organizations dimmed their lights to pay tribute to George Steinbrenner, the principal owner of the New York Yankees. According to the New York Times, they did so because the Nederlanders were minority partners in the Yankees.
For those who were petitioning to have the Broadway League’s decision reversed, the news was positive.
— Mark Garrison (@MarkGarrison1) September 9, 2014
— Jennifer Insel (@FoodFashionFit) September 9, 2014
So happy that Broadway has reversed course and will #Dim4Joan She was such a wonderful supporter of live theatre.
— Mark Aldrich (@MarktheGinger) September 9, 2014