The TV Column: Tonys lose some ratings luster


Host Neil Patrick Harris performs during the American Theatre Wing's 66th annual Tony Awards in New York, June 10, 2012. (LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS)
June 11, 2012

Sunday’s Tony Awards attracted what’s believed to be the franchise’s smallest audience on record.

The Reporters Who Cover Television made much of the fact that Sunday’s trophy show, hosted for the third time by Neil Patrick Harris, scored a low 6 million viewers, according to early stats, despite airing on a night heavy with repeats. The previous record low was 6.22 million viewers, set in 2007.

Speaking of retreads, major contenders for Sunday’s statuette dispensing included a re-staging of the 1935 opera “Porgy and Bess”; a re-staging of the 1949 play “Death of a Salesman”; a re-staging of the 1970 play “Jesus Christ Superstar”; a re-staging of another ’70s play, “Godspell”; a re-staging of still another ’70s play, “Follies”; a re-staging of a hit 1990 movie, “Ghost”; a re-staging of a dud 1992 movie, “Newsies,” and a new musical set in the 1920s that recycles George and Ira Gershwin tunes of that era.

And, of course, if there’s one thing you can say for sure about trophy shows, it’s that the ratings are not about who’s hosting — it’s about who’s nominated and does anyone care.

Last year’s Tony Awards broadcast, for instance, was also hosted by Harris but had about 7 million viewers. Of course, heading into last year’s Tonys show, theater fans — and non — were agog to see how Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s “The Book of Mormon” would fare.

Going in with a leading 14 nominations, “TBoM” walked off with nine Tony Awards, including the prize for best musical, as well as best book, best direction of a musical, best score, best featured actress and four technical awards, capping a night of raucous “Mormon” acceptance speeches, including one in which Parker said he’d be remiss if he did not thank his late book co-writer, Mormon religion founder Joseph Smith.

“You did it, Joseph! You got the Tony!” Parker said as he looked heavenward and held his statuette aloft.

One year later, the closest thing to a buzz-worthy moment came when “One Man, Two Guvnors” star James Corden, accepting the best-actor Tony, thanked his girlfriend by noting she’d given birth to their son five days before he started rehearsals. “She’s my baby mama and I can’t wait to marry her,” he said.

On the bright side, Sunday’s Tony Awards clocked about 3.3 million more viewers than the season finale of “Mad Men” on AMC that same night. The trophy show also snagged about a million more viewers than the fifth-season debut of HBO’s campy vampire drama, “True Blood.”

Strangely, neither network pointed this out, AMC instead focusing on the fact that 2.7 million viewers made Sunday’s “Mad Men” fifth-season finale the show’s most-watched season-wrapper, and HBO noting that the “True Blood” season kickoff was consistent with last season’s performance, and that around 1 million people watched the debut’s replay at 11.

Roberts’s blood disorder

“Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts told viewers Monday she has been diagnosed with a blood disorder probably caused by her treatment for breast cancer five years ago and will undergo a bone marrow transplant later this year.

“Sometimes treatment for cancer can lead to other serious medical issues, and that’s what I’m facing right now,” she said near the end of Monday’s “GMA.”

Roberts said her illness is called myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and is a rare blood disorder that affects the bone marrow.

On ABC News’s Web site, Roberts wrote that she learned about her MDS diagnosis on the day that “Good Morning America” beat NBC’s “Today” show for the first time in 16 years, adding, “talk about your highs and lows!” The same day that she was having “a rather unpleasant procedure to extract bone marrow for testing,” she learned that she would conduct the next day her much-picked-over interview with President Obama about his views on same-sex marriage.

“The reason I’m sharing this with everybody now is because later today I begin what’s known as pre-treatment,” Roberts said, surrounded by the show’s regulars and her co-anchor, George Stephanopoulos.

In her Web site message, Roberts said she begins chemotherapy in advance of a bone marrow transplant. Her older sister, a “virtually perfect match,” will be her bone marrow donor, she said.

Behar to Current TV

“The View” co-host Joy Behar has landed another news-network gig.

Current TV announced Monday that Behar, who parted company with CNN late last year, will headline a Monday-through-Thursday 6 p.m. show starting in September.

To warm up, Behar will guest-anchor Eliot Spitzer’s Current TV 8 p.m. timeslot the week of June 18, while Spitzer is on vacation. The show will be called “Joy Behar: One Week Only *Until the Fall.”

About 10 years after debuting as one of the founding co-hosts of ABC’s daytime talker “The View,” Behar began guest-anchoring on CNN’s “Larry King Live.” In 2009 she was given her own show on CNN’s HLN network, but that show was ended in mid-December of 2011.

To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.com/tvblog.

Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Entertainment