Tony Award Executive Producer Gary Smith, made his Playbill On-Line debut on May 31 and let the members in on what to expect on the June 2nd Broadcast of the Tony Awards Show. Following is the transcript. Are you wondering how the Tony Awards will deal with all the 1996 controversies on the June 2 broadcast? Joining us tonight is Gary Smith. He is currently in his fourth year working as executive producer of the Tony show on CBS and he can answer all your questions. As partner in the television production company Smith*Hemion, Mr. Smith created many of the most distinguished specials ever produced. The team has won an unprecedented 23 Emmy Awards. From the celebration featuring thousands of performers at the unveiling of a newly-restored Statue of Liberty to a one-woman show with Barbra Streisand, Smith has been responsible for putting "special" in television special. He was responsible for four years of the Emmy Awards, the Democratic Convention in 1988 and 1992, "Baryshnikov on Broadway," "Liberty Weekend,"," "We the People 200: The Celebration of the Bicentennial of the Constitution," Command Performance Specials for the Queen of England as well as productions for Frank Sinatra, Luciano Pavarotti, Harlem's Apollo Theatre, Woody Allen and Radio City Music Hall, among others. He produced both President Reagan's and President Clinton's Inaugural Galas. Playbill On-Line: Your host in attendance for this evening is Katia Lundy -- Hi all! Playbill On-Line: And now, please welcome Gary Smith! Playbill On-Line: Welcome, to Center Stage Gary Gary Smith: Hello all, I'm looking forward to this Playbill On-Line: I think everyone is on pins and needles. This must be the most controversial year for the Tonys, wouldn't you say? Gary Smith: Yes , but we tend to thrive on a bit of controversy Playbill On-Line: If you are ready, I think we can open up the floor for questions from our audience. Gary Smith: Ok Playbill On-Line: This comes from KBPhantom Question: What are the musical numbers planned for the show, if you can say? Gary Smith: There's quite a bit this year because there has been so much on Broadway this year. We will be doing "Rent," of course & "Noise/Funk" as well as "King & I," "State Fair, " "Swinging On A star, " "Forum" and an Opening number with Liza & Bernadette Playbill On-Line: The next question comes from Boomie C Question: Who are some of the presenters scheduled for the awards broadcast? Gary Smith: Diahann Carroll, John Lithgow, Sigourney Weaver, Uta Hagen, Eli Wallach, Ron Silver Peter Gallagher Matthew Broderick Sara Jane Parker, Lily Tomlin, Christine Baranski and I meant Sarah Jessica not Jane...Bea Arthur , Ben Vereen, Andrew Lloyd and that's just for the first award. Playbill On-Line: And the list goes on and on... Question: What will happen if Julie Andrews wins the Tony, who will accept it for her? Gary Smith: Well, Liza & Bernadette are presenting the award for leading actress/musical. If Julie should win & she's not there to accept, we'll simply announce that as all awards show do when the winner isn't there Playbill On-Line: Azima K wants your opinion Question: Do you think that "Victor/Victoria should have been nominated? Gary Smith: Well you're putting me on the spot. I am a good friend of Julie's & I also thought the show was delightful...and better than some others that were nominated. Playbill On-Line: This Q comes from Dixie Question: Hi Mr. Smith - I was wondering if Betty Buckley was asked to present an award or appear on the show. If not, why? Gary Smith: Betty won't be on this years show. We did a major segment on and at "Sunset Blvd." last year as you remember Playbill On-Line: From Buzz Question: How long will shows like "King & I" and "Big" get to perform their numbers? Gary Smith: About a minute and a half to two minutes Playbill On-Line: If you have just joined us, we are talking with Tony Awards Exec. Producer, Gary Smith Playbill On-Line: To send your question to the speaker, click on the Interact icon, then use the Ask a Question option. Playbill On-Line: Next Q up Jenbehn Question: Doesn't pre-taping certain segments take the excitement out of a live broadcast? Gary Smith: Good question and a poor answer...but nevertheless, in order to fully execute and show the 'wonder' of a Broadway show, it is sometimes necessary to pre-tape at their own theatre. That started a number of years ago when it was impossible to transpose Starlight Express or "Miss Saigon" into a 'live' TONY SHOW Question: Do you feel that "Rent" is as revolutionary today as "West Side Story" was when it first opened? Gary Smith: ANOTHER GREAT QUESTION. I REMEMBER BEING TRULY FLOORED WHEN I SAW "West Side Story." I even wrote a letter to the NY Times stating that High School kids should be given the day off to see the show. It was printed. Today, although "Rent" is brilliant and 'truthful' it is also a style that we are more used to seeing. There are also so many more 'windows' available.. cable TV etc. Playbill On-Line: A question from Buzz156 Question: When will a decision be made as to if the "best play" montage will be shown? Gary Smith: Is Buzz 156 related to Buzz. I need to have that answered while I say hello to my wife. Playbill On-Line: They are twins Gary Smith: So are our children. 18 years old. Playbill On-Line: From Katertott Question: Why is Betty Buckley, a past Tony winner, not going to be on the show? After all, she is currently starring in a hit Broadway musical, and her "signature song" is one of the most famous songs to ever come out of the musical theatre? Gary Smith: First Buzz 156....The Best Play montage decision has to do with the time left on the air late in the show. We have different lengths and simply decide at the last minute which there's time for. This year they're all so good that I hope we have time for our 'longest' version. Playbill On-Line: From Jenb Question: How is it possible to pack 50 years of Tony history, along with this year's awards into just 2 hours? Gary Smith: Thanks, that's what I was telling CBS just last week. But we will certainly get a 'taste' of history, but the truth is we don't even scratch the surface. Playbill On-Line: From Joe7475 Question: Why aren't Betty Comden and Adolph Green going to be presenters on this years show? Gary Smith: That was an awkward situation. While we were waiting for an answer from Andrew Lloyd Webber to present the final award of the evening, I had suggested to Betty & Adolf that they present that award. Unfortunately I had to call them and ask them to present another award, Best Book of a Musical, and they declined. I probably should have left it open but in my enthusiasm for their great talent & reputation I did offer the other and I think they were justifiably hurt, but still should have accepted the other offer. At least that's my feeling. Playbill On-Line: Question from DaveScott Question: I know you are friends with Julie. I like her work, but do you agree with her actions? and the reasons behind them? Gary Smith: I have mixed feelings about that. Playbill On-Line: From Joe Question: I have heard that Carol Burnett will not be a presenter because she is siding with Julie Andrews, is there any truth to this? Gary Smith: Actually carol, would not be able to present as she is nominated. Nominees don't present. However, she would have supported Julie anyway. Question: Any chance that Patti LuPone will appear during the ceremony? I think it would be great to have the past and future "Master Class" stars appear on the same stage! Gary Smith: Patti is not available. We talked about the Zoe & Patti presenting an award together singing "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better," that was their idea, but again Zoe is a nominee. Playbill On-Line: From MrsRhale ... Question: I hear Liza M. and Bernadette Peters are opening the show with a new song. Tell us about it. Gary Smith: It's a great song that was written for the movie "This Is My Life" Carly Simon wrote it for the film and sent it to me since it is called "The Show Must Go On." It really works very well and includes not only Liza & Bernadette, but about 50 Tony winners that are revealed on stage during the song. We also close the show with the same song only now reprised by Nathan. Question: Do the Tony awards ever add new categories? There are so many wonderful performers taking over for the original cast. How about a best actor/actress in a replacement role. Gary Smith: Actually there was one Tony won for a replacement many years ago. I don't recall who. But there are probably too many categories now for the 2 hours. When we get a larger time period we can add more categories. Playbill On-Line: I think perhaps this question is best suited for me...or do you want to answer it Gary? Question: Will the winners who won before 9 be available to online services for reporting before the show starts? Gary Smith: I don't know" Playbill On-Line: As many know, Playbill On-line will be backstage at the Tonys interviewing the presenters and winners as they step off the stage...start time @ 8pm Unfortunately, we can't divulge the pre-show winners before the telecast...But it will be a wonderful pre-show party. Playbill On-Line: Back to the questions Question: What do you feel is on the cutting edge of television production today? Gary Smith: Spellcheck! Playbill On-Line: ARamaswam asks Question: Will Glenn Close be in attendance? Gary Smith: No she's away Question: What excites you the most about television production today? Gary Smith: The 'event' nature of most special programming. When it's 'live' and important or relevant to people and their opinions, tastes and interests. Playbill On-Line: Buzz 156 is back with this Question: Will we see all the nominees in the categories that are presented before the show.... and will the audience be told they are prerecorded? Gary Smith: Yes to both questions Playbill On-Line: Patakios asks Question: Do you think the Tonys have become "irrelevant" to most of American society as most Americans outside NY will probably never see any of these shows? Gary Smith: That's becoming less true. So many shows go out of town before and after their Broadway run. Question: If the show were moved from network to cable TV, couldn't it be as long as it needed to be? Gary Smith: Probably Playbill On-Line: This is from Lover 002 Question: What Broadway play is your all time fave Gary Smith: Play or Musical Playbill On-Line: I think we have time for one more question and then we have to sign off. Playbill On-Line: From Dixie Question: Who nominates the nominees and how do you get on this committee? Gary Smith: I don't know Playbill On-Line: Thank you Gary Smith for stopping by Playbill On-Line. Sorry about last weeks power outage. I hope you had a good time today. Gary Smith: I did, thanks Playbill On-Line: Are you still interested in continuing the conversation in Playbill's chat room? Gary Smith: Sure Playbill On-Line: Great. All those interested in continuing the conversation with Gary Smith...he will be answering questions in the Playbill On-Line's Chat room. Meet you there in 10 minutes. Gary Smith: OK Playbill On-Line: Remember, Playbill On-Line will be backstage at Tonys on June 2 at 8pm. Join us! Enter the auditorium via Playbill's Guest button. Playbill On-Line: It's official, you can now order Broadway and Off-Broadway tickets right from your computer! Check out keyword Playbill -- your premiere theatre information source -- for more details. Playbill On-Line: If you arrived late, a transcript of tonight's event will be available within 24 hours. Look for it in the Guest area of Playbill On-Line or the Center Stage library! Playbill On-Line: Good night all! Playbill On-Line: Say good-night Gracie Gary Smith: Goodnight Gracie Copyright 1996 Playbill, Inc.