In an attempt to satsify all sides in the 1996 Tony Awards debate, Tony show executive producer Gary Smith announced May 21 that all of the season's new Broadway musicals -- except Victor/Victoria, which declined -- will get the chance to show segments of their shows on the June 2 Tony broadcast on CBS. Everyone from Victor/Victoria will boycott the show.
Smith is scheduled to answer questions about the Tony show from Playbill On-Line members at 9 PM (ET) May 24 in Playbill On-Line's forum on America Online.
Tony viewers will get to see clips from Big and State Fair, neither of which were nominated for Best Musical.
Speaking at a press conference at Sardi's restaurant, Smith said offers to show a pre-taped segment of Victor/Victoria were refused, as was an offer to have co-stars Rachel York and Tony Roberts act as presenters.
Victor/Victoria star Julie Andrews declined her Tony nomination as Best Actress in a Musical May 8, saying it was "egregious" that no one else from the show was nominated. Nevertheless, Smith said Andrews' two seats will be held for her in the Majestic Theatre, where the broadcast will originate.
Some will be live, some on tape, depending on how well they can fit their sets into the Majestic Theatre, which is already filled with the sets from Phantom of the Opera.
These shows will do taped segments: The King and I, Big and Chronicle of a Death Foretold.
The segments will run 30 seconds to three minutes 45 seconds. The amount of time each show will get was not disclosed, but a spokesperson for State Fair said they have been alloted one minute and 30 seconds. They will perform the title song, plus a section of the "I Owe Ioway" knee-slapping number. A spokesperson for Swinging on a Star said they will get one minute 15 seconds and will perform the show's title song.
The Tony show also will include clips from the four dramas nominated as Best Play: Buried Child, Seven Guitars, Master Class and Racing Demon. Instead of showing a full scene from the show, viewers will hear the author describing what is play is about, over a montage of scenes from the play.
The Tony broadcast, which will mark the 50th anniversary of the Antoinette Perry Awards, will acknowledge its history with a series of historical segments, drawn from videotapes of past Tony shows. For instance, as the Best Actress category is announced, viewers will see clips from previous winners in that category, topped off with the 1996 nominees.
To fit this ambitious schedule of entertainment into a two hour broadcast, 9-11 PM (ET), only eight of the 21 awards will be given live. The other 13 awards will be given in the hour before the broadcast, and the winners' speeches will be shown on edited tape. Smith said all the nominees in those categories will be shown.
Smith said he hopes to eliminate time wasted as winners walk to the stage, and reduce the need to gradually drown out long-winded speeches with the orchestra, as has been the policy in recent years. All speeches will be edited to 25 seconds.
Smith said winners who receive Tonys during the live show will be given 40 seconds for their speeches, after which the orchestra will play a segue that will drown them out, as happened last year.
Awards that will be given live: Best Musical, Best Play, Best Actor in a Musical, Best Actress in a Musical, Best Actress in a Play, Best Actor in a Play, Best Revival of a Play, Best Revival of a Musical. (Yes, the latter two categories will be split again this year.)
Awards that will be shown on tape: Best Director of a Play, Best Director of a Musical, Best Featured Actor in a Play, Best Featured Actress in a Play, Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Best Featured Actor in a Musical, Best Choreography, Best Score, Best Book, Best Costume Design, Best Set Design, Best Lighting and Outstanding Regional Theatre.
Among previous Tony winners who will be seen onscreen as performers, on tape or as presenters will be Edward Albee, Anna Maria Alberghetti, Joan Allen, Christine Baranski, Harry Belafonte, Philip Bosco, Matthew Broderick, Zoe Caldwell, Len Cariou, Hume Cronyn, Diahann Carroll, Carol Channing, Nanette Fabray, Harvey Fierstein, Tammy Grimes and Dolores Gray.
Also Uta Hagen, Rosemary Harris, Jennifer Holliday, James Earl Jones, John Lithgow, Natalia Makarova, Donna McKechnie, Liza Minnelli, Donna Murphy, Bernadette Peters, Maryann Plunkett, Faith Prince, Roger Rees, John Rubinstein, Jane Seymour, Stepehn Spinella, Leslie Uggams, Ben Vereen, Ray Walston and Eli Wallach.