CBS Sticks with Tonys, but Will Reduce Pressure and Opt for Purist Format

News   CBS Sticks with Tonys, but Will Reduce Pressure and Opt for Purist Format Fast approaching that time of year when a decision is made whether to exercise its contract option to broadcast the Tony Awards, CBS finds itself facing some critical decisions. Most significantly, the network is said to be committed to broadcasting the Tony's once again.

Fast approaching that time of year when a decision is made whether to exercise its contract option to broadcast the Tony Awards, CBS finds itself facing some critical decisions. Most significantly, the network is said to be committed to broadcasting the Tony's once again.

But, at the same time, CBS also finds itself free from what one source described as any sort of pressure to return the Tonys to Radio City Music Hall or to re-up with three-time host Rosie O'Donnell. In short, the Tiffany Network is expected to make important changes in its annual broadcast of theatre's top awards presentation.

While it is generally acknowledged that CBS is likely to stick with the Tony Awards show (CBS president Les Moonves is a theatre booster), a dip in ratings for this year's Tony Awards led to speculation about CBS' intentions for reworking the annual event show. The Tonys are broadcast in accordance with a contractual relationship involving both the League of American Theatres and Producers and the American Theatre Wing.

Playbill On-Line has learned that CBS' plans for reworking the Tony Awards may include one or more of the following steps:

• Moving the Tony Awards back to a legitimate theatre, rather than returning to the high-profile Radio City Music Hall. This would remove undue pressure on the event itself and keeps the show from becoming "something it's not." • Generally returning the Tony's to a more realistic or "purist" level since the network recognizes that the Tony Awards are commanding less natural interest within the potential television audience.

• The possibility of bringing in a new host.

CBS is likely to stick with the Tonys even with the prospect of reducing expectations for the show because, as one source said, it's broadcast in the summer, "so how bad can you get hurt?"

Asked to address the three points outlined in this story, a CBS spokesperson said, "We are unable to comment at this time."

-- By Murdoch McBride