Monday, June 16, 2008

The 60 second annual TONY AWARDS

Thanks to my Broadway lovin' daughter Annie and her friend Brock for this review of the TONY AWARDS. The Lakers beat the Celtics 103-98 by the way. I'm sure no one was watching the game. All of America was glued to the TONYS.

Well the Tony's have sold out this year (and I do not mean in terms of seats). Here are some ways that the Tonys tried to up their ratings:

1) Having the show hosted by a Tony and Oscar winner…unfortunately it was Whoopi Goldberg. So I think those awards are canceled out by Hollywood Squares.

2) Beginning the evening with the big opening number of the Lion King…for no particular reason.

3) During the “Look Back at the Year of Plays” they kept showing movie stars and identified them. For example, the clip they showed from Cyrano was just a shot of Jennifer Garner. I mean the play is named after the title character, you could have at least showed him. Or his nose.

4) Only the big awards were on CBS. Even categories like choreography and orchestration were done earlier.

5) TEN performances. Including ones from musicals that weren’t even nominated for best musical!


I have to say that I didn’t think there were any real surprises this year. In the Heights, South Pacific and August: Osage County were the big winners, and they were all well deserved.

Brock pointed out that every time they went to commercial break and said “The 62nd Tony Awards” it sounded like “The 60 second Tony Awards” (as in one minute long). This was probably just another ploy to get more viewers.

Patti Lupone was really wonderful, and that is saying something coming from me as I already have a bias against anyone who earns a career by starring in Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals.

Passing Strange was…strange. I will leave it at that.

The commercials were all for Cadillacs, Dog Shows, and Medications. Hmmm I wonder what their target audience is? Not a lot of Chevy truck spots.

In the Heights seemed like a lot of fun. I love how the writer rapped his speech. Do you think the Tony committee paid him to do that so they could have yet another performance?

Now I am a huge fan of Harvey Fierstein. But after seeing the clip from A Catered Affair, I think that he needs to stick to playwriting.

The most ridiculous part of the night was when Whoopi went through the sets of plays that were nominated for Best New Play. Why didn’t they just have the cast members perform clips instead of teasing us with the furniture?

Also during that section Whoopi said something like, “Remember that Hitchcock movie with the spies?” Oh yeah, THAT one.

Yay Anna Shapiro! The second American Female to win for direction of a straight play. AND they’re both Northwestern professors. The other one just gave me a C on a paper.

I like how Mandy Patinkin grew out his beard so he could look like Stephen Sondheim while speaking on his behalf.

I love Sondheim. Even when he’s not there, he gave the best speech of the night.

The projections for Sunday in the Park with George were amazing. They deserved an award of their own.

Great to see the Grand Dame of Broadway -- Julie Chen present a Tony. When is she going to get her lifetime award in the theatre? Who else on the American stage can sing, dance, act, and host Big Brother?

Wow. I loved when Glenn Close gave that oh-so-heartfelt speech about how musicals can change the world, and then the first nominee she introduced was Grease. I know I personally have never been the same since I first heard “shoo bop shoo wadda wadda yipitty boom de boom

I would like to end by saying how great it was to see the incredible Adam Kantor (A soon-to-be former Northwestern student) starring as Mark in Rent. He certainly puts the rest of us “Seniors to Watch” to shame.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm... seems this is the only commenting are that doesn't do this, so...


Unknown said...

Yeah and since nobody seems to be complaining about spoilers here either:


Ken there are so many people reading your blog from all over the world that you can not expect us to all to have stayed up until 5 am local time to watch the game.

I recorded it. You just ruined my evening.

Maybe not if Germany bearts Austria in the European Championship of Soccer tonight but still...

estiv said...

Nice job, Annie. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree etc.

Anonymous said...

The most ridiculous part of the night was when Whoopi went through the sets of plays that were nominated for Best New Play. Why didn’t they just have the cast members perform clips instead of teasing us with the furniture?

Remember when they used to have short scenes from the nominated straight plays in addition to numbers from the musicals? I was complaining about them not having that any more to a friend of mine, and all he said was "Musical numbers bring ratings."

In fact, when I complained about stunt casting, the same person said "Movie stars put butts in chairs."

It's sad.

But I still love the Tonys. It's the only awards show I watch.

Anonymous said...

Viewers were glued to the set; the Sardi's take-out business must have been phenomenal -- excuse me I mean "fabulous." Which begs the question, "Can't we come up with less ambiguous terminology than "straight play?"

I’m also surprised at you kids. The spy movie Whoopi’s writers couldn’t think of was North by Northwestern. (And if that hasn't been the name of a student production on at least 57 occasions, I'll eat my front row tickets.)

You guys did miss one Tony sellout. Do you think the director gets Andy Roonean tenure for capturing a beaming Leslie Moonves in the very first audience shot of the show?

Incidentally, as another viewing demographic, the Tonys had Andy Rooney as a lead-in. (Now I like Andy Rooney, but his final sentence was something to the effect that if he were rich, he wouldn’t have to be coming up with something to say at the end of 60 Minutes every Sunday. I ran to the computer and emailed, “On behalf of the American viewing public, how much would it take?”

You do have it wrong on Sondheim. Patinkin grew the beard for Patti Lupone so he’d look like Che Guevara. I'm crying for her --and milking this post.

It was an opportunity to showcase a lot of real talent; with any luck even for nonbasketball-fans who don't go to legitimate theater and might now dip a toe in the south Pacific. [Great, now it's bothering me I can't think of a less ambiguous term than "legitimate."]

Loved your observation on the commercials. Now come out one more time, hold hands and take a bow.

Anonymous said...

It's Tonys, not Tony's, unless the late Mr. Randall owns the awards.

Wouldn't normally pick nits, but from a Northwestern alum, I expect more.

Anonymous said...

That's bullshit, Tony Randall owned The Randys. An unfortunately named second-fiddle awards show for actors whose career has gone so far down the showbiz toilet they only appear in shows with often run too long skits that twist some obscure pop reference into a probable "joke" nobody gets which inevitably goes nowhere... I hear the current cast of SNL are top contenders this year.

Brock said...

a. buck short,

North By Northwestern, by my count, is the titles of several smaller student films in the time I've been here, our student film publication, and (by all accounts) better than the original title: The Man In Northwestern's Nose. Also, my article in the URSA quarterly at the start of the year about my disappointment in the program and the confusion of the faculty was entitled "South by Northwestern". So yeah... we get a lot of mileage out of it.

Tom Ehrenfeld said...

If you really love Sondheim (which you should) how about posting on him every now and then?

By Ken Levine said...


If I waited until every country aired every show I mentioned the story would no longer be timely for American audiences. And since I'm in America. as are most of my readers, holding off until a show airs in the west coast is pretty much my SOP.

My suggestion for the future would be when you see the title of the post, if it's referring to a show you haven't seen yet, don't read it until you have.

Anonymous said...

Great job Annie! You were so right on everything. Sondheim in absentia still better than all the rest!

Lion King? Why?
The HUGE deal made about reuniting the RENT cast just so they could sing for :45 seconds?

Whoopie... I hope she is in seclusion today. It's sad to watch a career careen downhill.

What is this basketball of which some speak?

Anonymous said...

To Eats Shoots and Leaves

Actually while I did make a mistake in not writing "Tonys." The show is named after Antoinette "Tony" Perry, so it could just as well be Tony's.

Anonymous said...

Passing Strange was "strange"?! That's all you could say about it?

And while I thought it was annoying, they opened the show up with the Lion King because it was the tenth anniversary, though i have to agree with your other friend...they should have sliced that crap out and put up scenes from the plays instead.

Overall, I think that the Tony Awards is evolving into almost as big of a joke as Broadway is right now.

I wonder if Fight Club the Musical will be nominated next year. (Oh yeah! That shit is real!)

Tim W. said...

When you mentioned straight plays, I thought you were saying they were plays that weren't about homosexuals. It is Broadway, after all.

Jon88 said...

Annie must have blinked at an inopportune moment. Just after Jennifer Garner's three seconds of airtime, there was a glimpse of Kevin "Cyrano" Kline.

And let's be kinder to Julie Chen. Could *you* act like you were in love with Les Moonves?

Anonymous said...

Your daughter is one sharp, funny, and gifted writer... Takes after dad, I suppose!

Her words accurately echoed my thoughts when watching the Tonys last night.

Send her "kudos" for me (and Brock as well)

Anonymous said...

annie: "eats shoots and leaves" might have at least pointed out that you only got the plural of Tony wrong in your first sentence. It was correct in the second. Maybe "eats" is not such a nitpicker after all. I hope his/her alma mater isn't too disappointed. :)

Anonymous said...

Annie, I was only pointing out a small mistake, and while I appreciate the retroactive "just as well" explanation, I can tell it was not your intention. The explanation is worthy of a law school exam answer, though. (that is not a slam)

jbryant, there was no nit to pick in the second sentence, so I did not mention it.

As for my alma mater, it is a Big Ten school that up until recently had a great basketball program.

As for spoilers: Woods wins, and Rosebud is his sled.

Unknown said...

re show: not the show.


Lakers - Celtics.

Or do you really expect me to expect to see that game's result under the heading "Tony Awards"?

What's next? Lost spoilers on the American Idol heading?

Tallulah Morehead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tallulah Morehead said...

Ken, you know the new law on spoilers: Until everyone on earth has seen something, no one on earth is allowed to discuss it. Next you'll be revealing who won the 2004 Presidential Election. I do wish people would keep quiet about what happened on season 4 of LOST until at least next January, because a friend of mine is waiting for the DVDs in December, and it will then take a couple weeks for him to watch them all, so NO DISCUSSION OF ANYTHING is allowed until then.

Honestly you "No Spoiler" Queens, it's a basketball game; guys in their underwear running around a room for a couple hours, bouncing a ball and periodically tossing it through a hoop. How does one stay awake? And not even a championship game, just some play-off. Anyone interested in it was watching it (Unless they had to work at Dodger Stadium), and anyone deeply not-interested nonetheless would be assaulted by "THE LAKER'S WON!" shouted at them on newsbreaks at the commercials. That spoiler ship sailed.

Meanwhile, I was enjoying the Tonys, where people sang and danced, and folks who even I, after a century in the theater and movies, had never heard of thanked other people I'd never heard of, for roles in plays I haven't seen.

So was this OSAGE COUNTY "Straight play" some sort of August Wilson show, only done with a white cast, like a reverse on Debbie Allen's version of CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, which she set on the only black-owned southern planatation on earth? (It's like a version of THE TEN COMMANDMENTS where the Hebrews keep the Egyptians as slaves.)

Notice how, when Whoopi Goldberg is announced as an award show host (WHY does she keep getting these gigs? She's never good in them.) people never say "Whoopi!", they always say "Whoopi?"

I finally realized that the joke in Whoopi's running gag of popping up in plays she wasn't in was "Wouldn't this show have just been RUINED if Whoopi had been in it?" So maybe her whole hosting gig was just a gag on the audience.

I too was wondering "What the...?" When THE LION KING opened the show. Just as I'd said aloud, "Is this the Tony broadcast from 10 years ago?" they said it was celebrating ten years of THE LION KING. That's reason to celebrate? How about noting that a MUCH BETTER show that opened 10 years ago, RAGTIME, didn't run anywhere near that long, apparently because it wasn't a cartoon acted out.

Then they THANKED it for "Bringing families back into the theater." even though this is what has populated Broadway with cartoons acted-out and fluff like LEGALLY BLONDE, while killing "Straight" plays. You know why there were so many plays in that straight plays montage? Because most of them ran a week. Thank you THE LION KING.

BTW, WHY are the animals all so happy that another lion has been born? Wouldn't most animals in the area prefer FEWER lions, rather than more? Does the Lion King ever say "Thank you my loyal subjects and future meals." or "Hey you, Lunch, c'mere"?

When did Best Book of a Musical become a category too minor to be on the show? At least when they did the first hour on PBS, you saw all the awards.

To me, the RENT tribute was "Remember when this show didn't seem tired and dated? No? Me neither."

“The 60 second Tony Awards” Very funny, and I was embarassed not to have noticed it on my own.

I agree, Patti LuPone was thrilling and scary, and I am so not a fan of hers.

I did not like the rapped acceptance speech. By the end of it, I knew I would never see that show or listen to it's cast album. and I was struck that, while holding a Tony for Best Music and Lyrics, which should represent the highest standards of lyric-writing, he was forcing some non-rhyming words into pretending to rhyme. Sondheim that guy ain't.

Mark Rylance reading a completely-non-pertinent piece from a tourist guide was hilarious. I was only disappointed when he vitiated it slightly by actually saying "Thank you" at the end. (In 1983, Rylance became the second male to play PETER PAN in England on stage. A man in his 30s playing the small boy usually played by a middle-aged woman. What an innovation!)

Yes the "Remember the Hitchcock movie with the spies" remark left me saying "Well that narrows it down to 30 movies. Remeber that James Bond movie where he defeats the villain's plans?"

If only Mandy Patinkin (Is he playing Tevye?") had brushed his beard upwards, we wouldn't have had to see his face at all. (Thank heavens he didn't sing. That man overacts even when asleep.)

Sondheim has known about this tribute for months, and he couldn't clear his schedule? Boy, he must never have forgiven Whoopi for her gender-blind Pseudolus.

Julie Chen. When the Great Names of Broadway Memory are spoken, she will say them. For a moment I thought she was going to announce a competition for a Tony, and we would have then seen Carol Channing, Maggie Smith, John Lithgow, and Harvey Fierstein, all in Speedos, rolling about in spaghetti sauce, hitting each other with nerf bats.

Harry Potter is gettng therapy from his nasty uncle who hates him? No wonder he becomes inapproriate with horses. But at least that casting will bring a lot of tween girls over from seeing WICKED and LEGALLY BLONDE 30 times each to seeing EQUUIS 30 times.

Thanks Annie. Good piece.

ajm said...

It's Stephen Sondheim's world. We only live in it. And it was nice for him to thank his (usually unsung) librettists in his acceptance speech, including MASH's own Larry Gelbart.

I wonder if Fight Club the Musical will be nominated next year.

Why do visions of a "The First Rule of Fight Club" production number suddenly haunt my nightmares?

Tallulah Morehead said...

Wow. How dead is Tony viewing?

I just glanced at the ratings for last night. Now I know The Tonys are always a ratings loser, but this year IT WAS SOUNDLY BEATEN IN THE RATINGS BY GOLF!!!


The MOST boring sport to watch of all, Mark Twain's famous "A good walk spoiled," and it beat out The Tonys.

How does golf even outrate "OFF"?

Anonymous said...

Hey Annie, you’ll be happy to hear I just found out which Big 10 college eats went to – University of Illinoi’s.

Brock, thanks for the additional info; it’s great that the art of the pun has not been lost on those of the millenial persuasion. Was the chair endowed in the name of Bennett Cerf (another excuse for your writing partner to call her father)?

And for all you Patinkin fans currently detoxing, her's another image Milner won't be able to get out of his head: Update of The Mod Squad series, only this time, instead of Michael Cole, Peggy Lipton, and Clarence Williams running at you in the opening, you've got two aging Jewish boomers and one who probably thinks he is: Mandy Patinkin, Sandra Bernhard, and James Caan. Working title, “Grizzled.” Sorry, still just a concept.

(You’ll have to forgive the manic euphoria. Stopped at the market on the way home from work and realized we can finally afford POISON TOMATOES.)

Anonymous said...

>Hmmm I wonder what their >target audience is?

Sounds like your friend Brock is among them.

Tallulah Morehead said...

No one has mentioned the GOOD NEWS at last night's Tonys: No ONE DIED!

There was no obituary montage. Apparently no one involved with Broadway theater died last year! Good news indeed.

Of course, that may be news to the families of Kitty Carlisle Hart, Paul Scofield, Deborah Kerr, Robert Goulet, Michael Kidd, Gretchen Wyler, Alice Ghostley, Myoshi Umeki, Tom Poston and Charles Nelson Reilly.

Anonymous said...

eats: I guess I'm the one picking nits now. Since Annie got "Tonys" wrong once and right once, I gave her the benefit of the doubt that the wrong one was merely a typo. And since it's a blog post and not a term paper, I don't think she has to worry about Northwestern revoking her diploma. I bet she doesn't even get a "tsk tsk" voicemail from her favorite English professor. :)

Cap'n Bob said...


Anonymous said...

Don't forget the Oscar at the Tony's /Tonys. k When Jack Klugman appeared, I had a "Gosh, I thought he died," moment.
I think Jack originated the Herbie role (which multiple Tony Award winner Boyd Gaines is currently doing)in "Gypsy." Originally the Herbie character had a featured number, but Klugman (even pre throat cancer) was such a poor singer that they cut it.

Unknown said...

Yeah tell the "go away with your spoiler complaints" to a former friend of mine. He started talking about Lost Season 4, how he saw this and that which seemed he was up to the snuff - and then I talked about the recent episode two days after it aired on his blog.

Seems he was only able to watch episodes a week after they aired. Also he did not listen to the podcast or read any news about San Diego Comic-Con.

So I talked about stuff that happened last week and a couple of months earlier and his reaction: he banned me from his blog. And since he's kind of a famous computer magazine writer, he's - of course - right. Because he runs the blog and to be legally on the safe side, he has to read everything that's posted and if it's not, he has to delete the comment. Resulting in me forcing him to spoiler himself the "african-american-guy-centric" episode in season 4.

So who's right now? Or is the rule of thumb now STFU?

I mean seriously. 60 second annual Tony Awards.

John Locke is in the coffin.

There. I bet my ass somebody is going to complain about what I just said. And I was free to do so since ... ah whatever.

I guess there is no way to win the spoiler discussion anyway.

Tim W. said...

tallulah morehead, it actually WAS a Championship game. A damn good one, too. It's no Tony Awards, though. Now THERE'S excitement, for you.

Anonymous said...

"Illinoi's"... now THAT's funny.

UI Alumnus, Class of '79

Anonymous said...

as a foreigner I'd say that the superbowl results (or whatever it is that Ken "spoiled") are fair game outside of the US, since nobody else in the world gives a shit about baseball (or whatever weird american sport they play at the superbowl.. maybe some kind of water sport that's played on a lake?). It's true and you know it.

Anonymous said...

Jon88 said...

From Melissa Rose Bernardo's recap in Entertainment Weekly:

In Memoriam, Off Air?
The video tribute to those the theater industry lost during the past Broadway season was broadcast on video screens inside Radio City Music Hall, but, sadly, not on the telecast.

Tallulah Morehead said...

So CBS was essentially saying "Life is for the living. They' re dead. Screw 'em!"

Brings a tear to my eye.

Tallulah Morehead said...

"tallulah morehead, it actually WAS a Championship game. A damn good one, too."

tim darling (I'd have capitalized "Tim" but if caps aren't good enough for my name, yours can go lower case too.), I lie (With my feet in the air) corrected. It apparently was a final, which is excellent news as it means that, by next week, I won't have to hear about basketball ever again forever. (You do mean "Final" as in "Last Game For All Time," don't you? Please say yes.)

However, for me to accept that it was "a damn good one too" I would first have to accept the concept that there is such a thing as a "good" basketball game, damned or otherwise. I'm afraid that's too great a stretch even for me. It's still just skinny gladular cases in tank tops running around bouncing a ball. Which means to me, it will always come in well after the Watching Paint Dry Channel. But you enjoy it dear. That's what freedom of choice is all about.

Why I even know people who prefer gin to vodka. It takes all kinds to make a world.

And the American Psychiatric Association has declared that being a basketball fan is not a mental disorder. In fact, in California, basketball fans can even marry, at least until November.

Cheers darling.

April said...

I was most disappointed by no musical tribute to Sondheim! And I'm worried that he didn't show. Is he okay?
I was thrilled w/ Patti's win until she started talking, and talking, and talking. It's days later, and I think she's still trying to finish her acceptance speech.