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Tonight's Tony Awards: Who'll present awards, who'll perform

June 15, 2008 | 12:44 pm

Tony Awards fanfare begins early today, starting at 6 p.m., when Broadway's finest will start walking the red carpet outside Radio City Music Hall in New York. The ceremony to be seen on CBS doesn't begin until 8 p.m. ET/PT, but some of the "below-the-line" awards will bestowed earlier (scenic design, lighting, costumes). That portion of the gala will commence at 7:10 p.m. and will be presided over by past Tony Award winners Michael Cerveris ("Assassins") and Julie White ("The Little Dog Laughed"). You can watch it live at the Tony Awards website: CLICK HERE.


Here's the list of award presenters: Alec Baldwin, Barry Bostwick, Gabriel Byrne, Julie Chen, Kristin Chenoweth, Harry Connick Jr., Glenn Close, Adam Duritz, Laurence Fishburne, Richard Griffiths, Jack Klugman, Laura Linney, John Lithgow, Liza Minnelli, Mary-Louise Parker, Mandy Patinkin, David Hyde Pierce, Daniel Radcliffe, Duncan Sheik, Brooke Shields, Marisa Tomei, Lily Tomlin, John Waters.

Who will those stars present awards to? Check out our pundits' predictions — HERE. Ceremony host is Whoopi GoldbergCLICK HERE to see our video chat.

Performances will include portions of all four best-musical nominees — "Cry-Baby," "In the Heights," "Passing Strange" and "Xanadu" — plus the tuners up for best revival: "Grease," "Gypsy," "Sunday in the Park With George" and "South Pacific."

My personal gripe every year is that Tonycast never grants sufficient time for ample snippets of the plays. Producers better do so this year because they've somehow found time for snippets from three musical that got largely skunked by voters: "A Catered Affair," "The Little Mermaid" and "Young Frankenstein." If those end up getting a higher showcase on the program than the great plays in competition, then Tonycast producers deserve a good spanking. And since I'll be backstage blogging, I may be strongly tempted to give it to them.

Remember who produces the Tonys: the league of Broadway producers, who may be more concerned about selling tickets to their big-bonanza bombs that didn't get nominated than showcasing the low-profile plays that did. Each musical number you see on the Tonycast costs its producers (stage producers, that is, not the awardcast producers) more than $100,000 in promo fees, so those musical segments are really just big, splashy commercials for those shows. OK, we award-watchers will put up with them as long as the plays don't get squeezed out as a result.