Broadway dims lights in Joan Rivers' memory, but not without fight

Tina Fineberg/Associated PressPaula Reardon places flowers at a sidewalk memorial for comedian Joan Rivers at the doorstep of her apartment building

Tina Fineberg/Associated PressPaula Reardon places flowers at a sidewalk memorial for comedian Joan Rivers at the doorstep of her apartment building

She hasn't been dead a week, but Joan Rivers still has people talking.

Broadway theater operators announced Monday that they would briefly dim marquee lights in honor of the comedy legend, who died Thursday at age 81 after suffering cardiac arrest during a surgical procedure.

But the Broadway League, which represents the theater industry, kept an iron grip on the light switch.

“Under our criteria people need to have been very active recently in the theater, or else be synonymous with Broadway,” league chief Charlotte St. Marti sniffed on Monday. “She hasn't acted on Broadway in 20 years.”

Broadway immediately revolted, with producer Tom D'Angora collecting 5,000 signatures for a petition backing the dimmed-marquee tribute, which was performed for Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall last month.

“I can't believe we can be denied the last chance to show respect and thank [Rivers]” D'Angora told The Associated Press. “Plus, how hard is it to hit a dimmer switch?”

After stretching its backpedaling muscles and realizing Rivers actually had a long history on the Great White Way, including a Tony nomination in 1994, the league relented.

“Due to the outpouring of love and respect for Joan Rivers,” St. Marti said Tuesday, “marquees of Broadway theatres in New York will be dimmed in her memory [Tuesday night].”


Does Apple have compromising photos of U2 or something?

In 2004, the Cupertino tech giant used the Irish band to promote a special-edition iPod. The same year, U2 appeared in an iTunes ad playing “Vertigo.” Before Apple's much-anticipated media event Tuesday, the rumor mill said U2's next album might come preloaded on the fabled iPod 6.

But after the unveiling of the Apple smartwatch, which will help users ignore their real-life friends more easily, U2 announced it would be giving away its next album, “Songs of Innocence” immediately to iTunes users.

“I do believe you have over half a billion subscribers to iTunes, so — could you get this to them?” Bono asked Apple CEO Tim Cook.

“If we gave it away free,” Cook said.


Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein, in town Monday promoting their show “Kinky Boots” (which opens in The City in December), were properly horrified when interviewer Randi Zuckerberg advocated tweet seats in theaters. … “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” director David Gelb is making a documentary series about chefs for Netflix.


Former Giants pitcher Randy Johnson is 51. … Actor Colin Firth (“The King's Speech”) is 54. … Director Chris Columbus (“Home Alone”) is 56. … Actress Kate Burton (“Scandal”) is 57. … Actress Amy Irving (“Carrie”) is 61. … Singer Jose Feliciano is 69. … Singer Danny Hutton of Three Dog Night is 72. … Golfer and beverage innovator Arnold Palmer is 85.

Got scoops or Bay Area celebrity gossip? Email

BroadwayFeaturesGossipJoan RiversRobin Williams

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at

Just Posted

A health care worker receives one of the first COVID-19 vaccine doses at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital on Tuesday Dec. 15, 2020. (Courtesy SFgov)
SF to open three large sites for COVID-19 vaccinations

Breed: ‘We need more doses. We are asking for more doses’

Tongo Eisen-Martin, a Bernal Heights resident, named San Francisco’s eighth poet laureate. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Tongo Eisen-Martin becomes San Francisco’s eighth poet laureate

Bernal Heights resident Tongo Eisen-Martin has become San Francisco’s eighth poet laureate.… Continue reading

Homeless people's tents can be seen on Golden Gate Avenue in the Tenderloin on Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 16, 2020. (Photo by Ekevara Kitpowsong/S.F. Examiner)
Statewide business tax could bring new funds to combat homelessness

San Francisco could get more than $100 million a year for housing, rental assistance, shelter beds

The Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco (a mural by artist Jamie Treacy is pictued) has a lineup of free online programming including activities for youngsters scheduled for Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 18. (Courtesy Demetri Broxton/Museum of the African Diaspora)
Stanford, Museum of the African Diaspora host MLK Day activities

Online offerings include films, music, discussion

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi presides the US House of Representatives vote on the impeachment of US President Donald Trump at the US Capitol, January 13, 2021, in Washington, DC. - The Democrat-controlled US House of Representatives on January 13 opened debate on a historic second impeachment of President Donald Trump over his supporters' attack of the Capitol that left five dead. (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)
House votes 232-197 to impeach Trump a second time

Focus shifts to Senate, where McConnell has signaled he may not stand by president

Most Read