Scott Rudin Still Pulling Strings on Broadway, Despite Pledge to “Step Back”: Report

In April of last year, the only EGOT-winning producer, Scott Rudin, said that he would be “stepping back” from his theater ventures following an exposé of longstanding abusive behavior in the workplace. But a new report from Roger Friedman’s Showbiz 411 says this hasn’t really been the case. What’s more, the controversial 64-year-old is said to be the one who pulled the plug on the revival of To Kill A Mockingbird, to the fury of the show’s investors.

The rights issues to the stage version of Harper Lee’s novel are complex, but they are currently owned by Rudin. A previous adaptation, written by Christopher Sergel in the 1970s and first produced in the 1990s, was under heavy restriction as a result, until a recent lawsuit against Rudin. 

The new version of the show, adapted by Aaron Sorkin, and originally starring Jeff Daniels as the idealistic lawyer Atticus Finch, broke box office records for a non-musical on Broadway when it opened in December 2018. It was nominated for nine Tonys, netting one win, for Celia Keenan-Bolger for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play. Ed Harris and Greg Kinnear came in as replacements for the lead, and things appeared to be stabilizing post-pandemic closures, until the omicron variant hit.

The show shut down in mid-January at the Shubert Theatre, with the promise of a June re-open at the Belasco Theater. When that date came and went, the goalposts were moved to November at the Music Box Theater. Now, however, word is the show is closed for good.

According to Showbiz 411, this is Rudin’s decision. A source said that “Scott has never gone away,” and that “there was a long negotiation to turn the production over to other producers, but in the end, Scott just petulantly said ‘No.’”

Considering the show still had considerable gas left in the tank, the outlet reports that “investors are furious.” Moreover, Rudin not really stepping away seems to be something of an open secret “considering his office is still open, and his main staff is still in place.”

What could Rudin’s motivation be, supposing the story is accurate? It’s unclear, but Sorkin telling V.F. that the producer “got what he deserved” in an interview last fall could potentially be a factor. 

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