Tony Awards 2015: Is it Time For The Curtain To Close on The Award Show?

Tony Awards
Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori at the 2015 Tony Awards via CBS

The red-headed stepchild of awards shows, The Tony Awards, aired last night on CBS celebrating the accomplishments in Broadway Theater. Well, most of them, anyway.

To start off with the good, “Fun Home” snagged the award for Best Musical, a touching show that deals with sexuality, abuse, suicide and dysfunctional family life. Helen Mirren won for once again playing the Queen of England (but on stage this time). John Cameron Mitchell was awarded a special Tony for…being John Cameron Mitchell, I guess. Kristin Chenoweth was at her pixiest hosting, and co-host Alan Cumming strutted the stage in plum shorts.

But one of the reasons the Tony’s might need to be reevaluated (or put out of its misery) is the sheer pomp and circumstance that’s eclipsing honoring the true talent, hard work and perseverance the awards ostensibly celebrate.

The most egregious snub thanks to the CBS broadcast, in my opinion, was the exclusion of Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori, the first female team to win the Tony for Best Original Score for “Fun Home”. Obviously, as the last four minutes of the broadcast showed, the American public needed to see a number from “Jersey Boys”, a decade-old jukebox musical, for the 11,00000th time. Yes. That’s surely more important than watching an historic achievement and an incredibly moving speech about working in the arts. The odd thing is, Original Score isn’t really a “minor” award (not that Costume Design or Set Design is, either, but…) so the choice not to air it to make room for another musical number baffles me. Yes, it’s a commercial affair and any attempt to boost ratings is expected, but at the expense of history?

The Tony’s have never been a ratings juggernaut (it had a paltry 7.24 Million in 2013, which was actually its highest in four years); compare that to the 36.6 Million the Oscars received this year (which is also pretty low). As disheartening it is that the general public seems to care less about the theater, it’s not surprising. Broadway is a very narrow slice of the theater world, and considering it’s geographically remote to most Americans and getting more and more expensive, there’s less reason to invest in it, emotionally or otherwise. And because of that, CBS cuts what the ceremony should actually be about to make a dog and pony show in a last-ditch effort. We’re not treated to live performances of the Best Play nominees, or coverage of all the awards. Instead, we watch musical numbers of shows that weren’t even nominated, or long rants by Larry David.

At this point, the Tony’s should probably move to a cable network who’ll produce it better. It’s breaking tradition for what has been a major award show to die a slow death, but if you’re not going to show awards going to the people who craft and create theater, well, what’s the point of an awards show?

Check out the full list of Tony Award winners here. 


This Week’s Best Old-Man Complaint: ‘No Problem’

Over at CBS, contributor Bill Flanagan seems to be auditioning for the role of Andy Rooney, and his cantankerous complaint this week is a treasure: you see, Bill can’t stand it when you disrespectful whippersnappers say “no problem” instead of “you’re welcome.” Can we ridicule him for this pet peeve? No problem! 

Flanagan’s hatred of the phrase really stems not from some systemic overuse, but a former employee—a young one, he is sure to note—who would always say “no problem” instead of apologizing when told he needed to stop coming in late. This employee, Flanagan implies, was fired for that verbal tic, meaning: he didn’t get fired just because he was late all the time. How confusing. Maybe he should have found more non-issues to “report” on.

We don’t get any discussion of the Spanish “de nada,” which is essentially the same shorthand, but we are privy to the news that “no problem” is especially offensive to people born before 1980, according to this guy who just thinks that. Also, he took his wife “to a good restaurant” and wanted to start a fight about semantics with the waitress who said the dreaded words when asked for tap water. I think we may have found the ultimate living authority on manners.

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Today’s Happiest Video: Oklahoma Tornado Survivor Finds Dog During Live TV Interview

In a moment that any dog lover, newscaster, survivor – human being – would love, an Oklahoma tornado survivor finds her dog crawling out from under the rubble of her home – right in the middle of a live TV interview.

The footage, shown below, was taken by CBS, who asked Barbara Garcia to elaborate on the moment 200mph winds raced toward her home. While telling her story, she said that she "never lost consciousness," and "hollered for my little dog, but he didn’t answer and didn’t come, so I know he’s in here somewhere."

Miraculously, moments later, a member of the camera crew spotted a dog’s eyes and face moving from beneath a scrap of aluminum, and starts yelling, "Dog. Dog!’

Mrs. Garcia turns and crouches by the dog, lifting the aluminum, exclaiming with joy: "bless his little bitty heart."

"Well, I thought God just answered one prayer to let me be OK," she said. "But He’s answered both of them."

Follow Bonnie on Twitter here.

First Look: Behind the Scenes of ‘Under the Dome’

Under the Dome is a thirteen-part miniseries / possible actual real TV series premiering on CBS this summer. Based on the book by Stephen King, the series follows the residents of a small town in Maine (where else?) who find themselves trapped under a large dome. Naturally, all hell breaks loose, which is what happens when you’re… UNDER THE DOME. Also, somehow military trucks are under the dome, too. That’s convenient! Anyway, here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the "television event" hitting the small screen in just a few weeks. 

[Via Hollywood Reporter]

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The Future of ‘Up All Night’ Still Up in the Air, Will Arnett Attached to CBS Pilot

It’s Pilot Season! It’s Pilot Season! Now is the time when people who know a sliver about television report on all of the new projects being filmed for potential TV series, which means that everyone freaks out about the tiniest things. Up All Night, as we know, is in a weird spot. While the single-camera format has been tossed out after a season and a half and Christina Applegate has left the show, the future doesn’t look too bright. Naturally, Will Arnett is looking at other options, as any sane person would do in such a volatile situation, and is attached to star in a comedy pilot for CBS. 

Entertainment Weekly reports that the still-untitled pilot will be written by Greg Garcia, creator of Raising Hope and My Name Is Earl:

In the multi-camera show, Arnett will play a recent divorcé whose life grows more complicated as his parents experience problems in their marriage. (Arnett and wife/Parks and Recreation star Amy Poehler separated last fall.)

Oh right, Will Arnett is also in a weird spot, marriage-wise. Thank you, EW, for reminding us that sometimes life imitates art. Now, if only this show was also about an actor fleeing a failing sitcom for another network show. And throw in a zeitgeisty subplot about his experience on a beloved-but-cancelled sitcom that has found a new home on a streaming video service! This could be big, everyone.

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CBS Really, Really Concerned About “‘Puffy’ Bare Skin Exposure”

The 55th Annual Grammy Awards will air this weekend, and millions across the country will likely tune in to watch the most prestigious award show where almost no awards are actually given out. And although attire at the Grammys does tend to be a bit more revealing and performances more brazen than, say, the Oscars or the Tony Awards, CBS is pretty concerned about what people will be wearing.

In short, perhaps worried about the headline-making attire of the likes of Jennifer Lopez (which was more than a decade ago, you guys), CBS called for a moratorium on tight-fitting or short items that revealed too much boob, butt or bulge. As the memo reads:

“Please be sure that buttocks and female breasts are adequately covered. Thong type costumes are problematic. Please avoid exposing bare fleshy under curves of the buttocks and buttock crack. Bare sides or under curvature of the breasts is also problematic. Please avoid sheer see-through clothing that could possibly expose female breast nipples. Please be sure the genital region is adequately covered so that there is no visible ‘puffy’ bare skin exposure. Please avoid commercial identification of actual brand name products on T-shirts. Foreign language on wardrobe will need to be cleared. OBSCENITY OR PARTIALLY SEEN OBSCENITY ON WARDROBE IS UNACCEPTABLE FOR BROADCAST. This as well, pertains to audience members that appear on camera. Finally, The Network requests that any organized cause visibly spelled out on talent’s wardrobe be avoided. This would include lapel pins or any other form of accessory.”

Naturally, this led to lots of gross comments and fat jokes (sigh) on Twitter, but CBS’s alarmism is kind of amusing. There are the awkward descriptions and stumbling-over-itself when describing what needs to be covered, the all-caps alarmism. You can almost hear the Internet issuing a resounding, “Ha, good luck with that, nerds.” For real though, these things never work. They issued the same warning last year, but that didn’t stop the sartorial provocateurs.

But it’s also weird that CBS is so hysterical over potential side-boob when the network has pulled some pretty gross affronts to decency and morality itself, and recently. There’s the almost cartoony-racist 2 Broke Girls, the gross and objectifying Super Bowl ads that ran on the network just last week (GoDaddy, anyone?) and not to mention the network employed abusive lagoon creature Charlie Sheen for years. As the kids say, CBS, check yourself before you tell other people to check themselves, or whatever. 

Robin Williams Needs Work So Bad That He’s Working on a CBS Comedy Show

What has Robin Williams been up to recently? That’s not a rhetorical question. That’s me asking because I’m too lazy to go to IMDb. He was in RV, but that was a while ago. And then there was that Wild Hogs movie? Or Old Dogs? (Wild Dogs? Old Hogs?) I’m afraid Robin Williams has been too quiet lately, and that makes me nervous. Of course, it’s probably making him more nervous, on account of it being his career and all. Oh, well, it seems natural, then, that he sign up for a CBS pilot written by David E. Kelley, mastermind behind Ally McBeal and, uh, Boston Legal. (Was Boston Legal the name of a show? Or am I just making up another, much more specific name for The Practice? Hell, Boston Legal could have been the title of Ally McBeal, really.) Anyway, I don’t think things are too great for the city of Boston, either.

[via EW]

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Stephen King’s ‘Under The Dome’ To Become A TV Show

Remember the good old days of American TV when melodramatic grocery store novels were turned into super long miniseries? Roots! North and South! Alex Haley’s Queen (or: More Roots!) More North and South! Miniseries used to be great excuses for networks to pack their broadcasts with actors who were probably too big to show up on, like, Murphy Brown but were definitely too unkown to be in big-budget Hollywood movies. There was also a lot of sex involved on screen. That’s always fun! Nowadays, books are still being adapted for television, but now they’re becoming actual series with multiple seasons. Naturally, the king of the TV miniseries is back: Stephen King’s 2009 novel Under the Dome has been picked up by CBS to be a 13-episode series.

The novel, a whopping 1000-page tale of the residents of a small New England town (of course) suddenly finding themsevles trapped under a large transparent dome, will air this summer. But, of course, the book is getting the Game of Thrones / Walking Dead / True Blood / Sex and the City treatment, as the folks involved in the production of the show are not limiting themselves to a year’s worth of TV. According to Entertainment Weekly, the show will be an "event" that its producers hope will turn into a full-fledged series: 

The series version was originally developed at Showtime. But in an unusual move, the ambitious project jumped from a cable network’s slate to the major broadcaster (more on that below). It’s also a rather unique title for CBS, since the network has been traditionally more wary about betting on serialized dramas than its rivals. But with AMC’s The Walking Dead and NBC’s Revolution, apocalyptic serialized dramas have been delivering large numbers lately.

Fans of the novel shouldn’t expect an exact retelling of the same story. Last we heard, writer Brian K. Vaughan’s (Lost) script for Dome was wisely using the novel’s setup as a launch pad for its own TV-format-friendly version of the story and might even lay the groundwork for a different outcome than the novel’s ending. Also, the CBS version is definitely a series, not a mini-series, with a finale episode that will leave the story open for more seasons.

Ah, well. Gone are the days when taking a giant brick of a book like The Stand and turning it into a four-part, eight-hour movie for TV. Who says our attention spans have dwindled? Certainly not the people in charge of making television shows.

Follow Tyler Coates on Twitter.

CBS Launches Raft Of TV Shows Conceived In Actual Hell

All due respect to the poor people who were forced to create/film/edit them, but no American television viewer should need to watch these four pilots to know that they are like something you have to scrape off the bottom of your shoe with a twig—only it’s stuck in the treads and you’ll have to use the hose when you get home. Let’s take totally uninformed guesses as to what each is about.

Made in Jersey: if it weren’t for the title’s spelling, I would assume this was about a maid in New Jersey. But no, this has got to be some professional “drama” with moments of lightheartedness, yeah? Made it 45 seconds into the trailer before seeing a NJ Devils jersey, so we can expect some nominal, awkward acknowledgments of a New Jersey setting.

Elementary: This show stars Lucy Liu and the dude who ran the rape club in that season of Dexter. The posters make it pretty plain that we’re in for an update on Sherlock Holmes, set in (wait for it) New York. I’m expecting some juicy gender themes based on the female Watson. Lots of stubble close-ups for the guy.

Partners: Clearly, a sitcom about the gays. Are they like the straights? Of course, except in all the stereotypical ways that they aren’t! Paradoxically conservative. The sort of dated, extra-broad farce you expect Don Knotts to wander into.  

Vegas: Jesus, I don’t even know, but it’s got to be unwatchable. A serialized sequel to Bugsy? Could easily be a cross-promo vehicle for some designer who wants to bring back big hats. 

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter.