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].”

APPLE RELEASES NEW U2 ALBUM FREE

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.

QUICK TAKES

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.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

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 scoop@sfexaminer.com.

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