It's official: Tony Awards spokespersons have confirmed rumors that have been swirling around The Street since before the new year: Rosie O'Donnell will be hosting the 54th Annual Tony Awards on June 4, and the event will take place at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
O'Donnell herself told a reporter from TV's "Entertainment Tonight" (Jan. 31) that she would be hosting the Awards, but the League of American Theatres and Producers and the American Theatre Wing, co-presenters of the Tonys, were not yet ready to confirm the news at the time.
Last year, the Tonys took place in the Gershwin Theatre, after two consecutive years at Radio City. Radio City was being refurbished during 1999, making presentation of the awards in the hall impossible.
The years in Radio City coincided with Rosie O'Donnell's hosting of the event, as well as some of the highest television ratings the show had seen in years. O'Donnell bowed out in 1999, and, after a long search, the Tonys opted for multiple hosts for the ceremony. The ratings took a tumble with the change in venue and host.
The cut-off date for eligibility for the awards is May 3. A press conference announcing the nominees will be staged early on May 8, a Monday. As in recent years, PBS will broadcast the first hour of the three-hour event, with CBS carrying the 9-11 PM (EST) slot. Jac Venza, co-executive producer (with Jeff Folmsbee) of the first hour, noted in a statement that PBS would continue to follow its "unique documentary approach that allows audiences to learn more about the important artists behind the scenes who make a Broadway show a success."
Walter C. Miller and Rosie O'Donnell are executive producers of the CBS telecast, with O'Donnell stating, "I'm thrilled and delighted to be hosting the Tonys again... We intend to entertain television audiences with Broadway's best."
-- By David Lefkowitz
and Robert Simonson