The creation of the award was announced Sept. 22, 2005. The award allowed actors who replace other actors in long-running shows to be eligible for a Tony Award. According to a statement released by the Committee at that time, those actors eligible for the category "must not have appeared in the role when the production opened on Broadway. They must also be contracted in the role for a minimum of six months of public performances. Additionally, the producers may not submit more than two candidates per 'Long-Running' Show for the Award (including both Actor and Actress) for any such season." All still-running Broadway productions that opened in a prior season were eligible for this new category.
The first such award was scheduled to be given this past season. However, the Tony Committee decided not to award any actor in that category. That decision upset Jonathan Pryce, who, along with Harvey Fierstein, was eligible for the prize. When it was announced that no award would be given, Pryce — who succeeded John Lithgow as Lawrence in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels — told the Post, "I found it ultimately insulting to all of us who were eligible." A committee member added, "Jonathan's unhappiness certainly had something to do with our decision. His performance was highly valued, and the award should have been presented to him. It was our mistake that it was not."