Weeks ago, Tony Awards spokespersons confirmed rumors that were swirling around Broadway since late 1999: that Rosie O’Donnell would host the 54th annual Tony Awards on June 4, and that the event would take place at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Since then, little new information has surfaced, though details on presenters, special awards, the PBS broadcast and ticket availability are expected imminently.
About the only decision that has been made, according to a spokesperson at the Keith Sherman press office, is that Dame Edna: The Royal Tour is not considered a play, nor can Barry Humphries be considered for best actor (or actress?), nor can the piece be up for any awards besides, perhaps, a special Tony. No word, however, on whether other unique productions -- such as Jackie Mason: Much Ado About Everything and Minnelli on Minnelli -- will be subject to the same rules. No word, either, on the classifications for Riverdance and Tango Argentino, or whether True West and Waiting in the Wings are “new” plays.
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