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The 65th annual Tony Awards airs Sunday, live on CBS. Here are five things to know before you watch the show:
1. Neil Patrick Harris returns as host. The How I Met Your Mother star previously hosted the 63rd edition two years ago, earning a Creative Arts Emmy for his efforts. “I’m honored and stoked to have been asked to host the 2011 Tony Awards,” Harris said last month. “It should be a great show — we’ve got a fantastic mix of live performances, a few secret surprises and since they’re closed for retooling, we’re using all the rigging equipment from Spider-Man. What could possibly go wrong?”
2. South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone could be big winners. The duo’s musical Book of Mormon, which they co-wrote with Robert Lopez (Avenue Q), has not only become a hit with critics and audiences and tops the Tony nominations with a total of 14 (nearly tying record holders The Producers in 2001 and Billy Elliot in 2009, which each scored 15). That haul makes the gleefully profane buddy comedy about two mismatched missionaries assigned to Uganda the show to beat for Broadway’s top honor this year. Read The Hollywood Reporter’s review here.
3. Several Hollywood stars are up for awards.Viewers will recognize many of the nominees, including Al Pacino (The Merchant of Venice), Edie Falco (The House of Blue Leaves), Bobby Cannavale (The Motherf—er With the Hat), Vanessa Redgrave (Driving Miss Daisy), Billy Crudup (Arcadia) and Ellen Barkin (The Normal Heart), among others. But because of the increasing number of Hollywood stars landing roles on Broadway and earning Tony noms, there’s been a backlash as many New York actors are working to reclaim those high-profile roles.
4. The ceremony will take place at a new venue this year. Previously, the Tonys have been held at the New York’s Radio City Music Hall. Due to a conflicting booking at Radio City of Cirque du Soleil’s new show, Zarkana, this year’s Tony ceremony will be moved to the Beacon Theater on the Upper West Side.
5. A red-carpet protest has been averted. Local 1 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees was planning to interrupt the VIP arrivals area at this weekend’s Tony Awards with inflatable rats and up to 400 pickets protesting, according to published reports. The union normally organizes the red carpet but due to budget constraints, the Tonys decided to remove that job from the union’s responsibilities when the ceremony switched locations. Given the inadequate sidewalk space surrounding new venue the Beacon, the red carpet for the ceremony is being set up a block away, outside the union’s jurisdiction. But on Friday, the threat of a picket line was averted following the conclusion of successful negotiations between both sides, with Tony producers agreeing to allow union workers to organize the red carpet.
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