Will Bialystock und Bloom Host Tony Awards?

News   Will Bialystock und Bloom Host Tony Awards? Nearly every journalist, critic and pundit has, at some point this spring, speculated, "Wouldn't it be great if Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick were to co-host the Tony Awards?" After all, Lane already has Tony hosting experience (including guest hosting last year with Rosie O'Donnell), and he and Broderick co-star in the hottest Broadway ticket in years, The Producers.

Nearly every journalist, critic and pundit has, at some point this spring, speculated, "Wouldn't it be great if Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick were to co-host the Tony Awards?" After all, Lane already has Tony hosting experience (including guest hosting last year with Rosie O'Donnell), and he and Broderick co-star in the hottest Broadway ticket in years, The Producers.

Well, that Tony-night pairing of Bialystock and Bloom may indeed happen. Although Variety columnist Army Archerd doesn't quote Mel Brooks in his May 1 column, he does write that the co-author and composer-lyricist of The Producers "sounded excited about" Lane and Broderick co-hosting the June 3 event.

Asked whether the Lane-Broderick pairing was a fait accomplit, Tony spokespersons told Playbill On-Line May 1, "We have nothing to confirm at this point." A spokesperson for Broderick at the CAA Agency in L.A., also reached May 1, said, "That's what we're hearing, but we do not know if it's official."

No word yet on ticket availability or other aspects of the Tony event or television broadcast. (Please do not call or email Playbill On-Line regarding Tony tickets or hosting information. As soon as we know, we'll post the information on-line.)

* Weeks ago, the New York Post suggested that Reba McEntire might be an ideal candidate for hosting this year's Tonys, since she's received stellar reviews in her Broadway debut as Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun. Tony hostess or no, McEntire will get her moment in the Tony spotlight, albeit a month earlier than the June 3 ceremony.

On May 7, the actress-singer and "Will & Grace" star Eric McCormack will read the Tony nominations. The press conference will take place at Sardi's theatrical restaurant on West 44th Street at 8:30 AM (EST), according to Tony spokespersons at the Keith Sherman office.

McEntire is best known as a country music star but has brought new life to the box office of Annie Get Your Gun. McCormack will take over the lead in Broadway's The Music Man on May 8, replacing Craig Bierko (who will be involved in Susan Stroman's next project, Thou Shalt Not).

This year's Tony Awards will once again be at Radio City Music Hall. Gary Smith will executive produce the 55th annual event, which will again be broadcast on PBS (first hour, 8-9 PM EST) and CBS (second two hours, 9 11 PM EST) television.

It's the 24th consecutive year that CBS has broadcast the ceremony. Glenn Weiss will serve as director, with Ricky Kirshner as line producer. Smith's production company, Smith-Hemion, has overseen 24 Emmy Awards, as well as five Tony telecasts (1993-1997).

Tony Award Productions (jointly run by the American Theatre Wing and the League of American Theatres and Producers) announced that this season's Tony eligibility deadline is May 2. Shows must open at a Tony eligible house by that date in order to be considered for award recognition this season. (The Tony season's last eligible show is therefore 42nd Street, which opens May 2.) May 2 is also the date Tony Award Productions launches its official website, www.tonys.org, featuring stories, audio clips and other special material about the Tony Awards. (Playbill On-Line is the official content provider for that website.)

The Tony nominations press conference will be held on Monday morning, May 7. The nominees' brunch, at a venue TBA, will be May 16.

As to who will host this year's Tonys, that remains to be seen. Although the New York Post's Michael Riedel reported, March 9, that actress McEntire is being considered, how seriously is another question. At the time, Tony managing producer Liz McCann told the Post she'd had preliminary discussions with the actress' manager-husband, Narvel Blackstock, adding, "It is far too early to talk about all this, but of course, it would be lovely to have Reba involved in the Tony Awards somehow." McEntire's press rep Pete Sanders told Playbill On-Line (March 9) the McEntire rumor is, at this point, just that. "Reba's having a great time on Broadway," Sanders said, "and she appreciates the great notices and warm welcome she's received. She wants to be part of the theatre community and is very willing to do it. But no one's approached her yet. There haven't been any meetings except for a `hello' between her and Liz McCann at Dean and DeLuca!"

Producer McCann also told the Post she's been talking to Rob Marshall (who "may end up choreographing the show") as well as James Lapine, George C. Wolfe, Hal Prince, Richard Maltby Jr., and Susan Stroman.

Actress and talk show host Rosie O'Donnell had hosted the Tonys for three of the past four years, a see-saw tenure that did not end well. Her first year was seen as a major rejuvenation for the Tony Awards, with ratings up, extra audience exposure via O'Donnell's morning chat show, and a sense of excitement from holding the Awards at glitzy, big Radio City Music Hall instead of a traditional Broadway theatre. The following year saw ratings decline a bit and, on the backstage front, a growing tension between the League and the Wing on what the Tonys should represent (e.g., excellence in commercial Broadway theatre versus a more historical, art-for-art's sake approach). When Rosie begged off in 1999, the producers chose to forego a host and simply used a series of presenters. Ratings were down again, with critics taking potshots at what they perceived as a lackluster event. (The heaviest brickbats were heaved at a Kevin Spacey-conceived segment that had actors reading intertwining monologues from nominated plays.) When O'Donnell returned in 2000, with Nathan Lane virtually co hosting, reviews were generally improved but national ratings were the lowest in years.

Last year's Tony winners included Copenhagen (play), Contact (musical), The Real Thing (play revival) and Kiss Me, Kate (musical revival).

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In related Tony news, while New Yorkers crowd into Radio City or around their TV sets on Tony Awards night, June 3, Los Angelinos can come out and party, thanks to the Actors' Fund of America and Aid for AIDS. Their West Coast Tony party will be held at the Museum of Flying in Santa Monica, CA. Proceeds will go to both the Fund, a not-for-profit social welfare organization that assists entertainment professionals, and to help those with AIDS and HIV.

This year's L.A. Tony party will bestow the Julie Harris Lifetime Achievement Award on Lauren Bacall, last on Broadway in Waiting in the Wings and best known for her stagework in Applause and Woman of the Year and for her legendary film career.

Previous Julie Harris Award winners include: Tyne Daly (2000), Charles Durning (1999) and Gwen Verdon (1998).

According to the Actors' Fund website, the Tony event features "a live feed of the Tony Awards telecast from New York, projected on several large screens; cocktails and dinner; an auction of theatrical memorabilia, travel packages and other items."

For tickets ($160) and information on the June 3 L.A. fete call (323) 933-9244 or check out http://www.actorsfund.org/tickets/tony.html.