The Graduate was ignored, Elaine Stritch was shortchanged (in her opinion), and Mamma Mia! came up empty-handed--but all were trounced by the Los Angeles Lakers. That basketball team's victory over the Sacramento Kings, broadcast by NBC, was watched by three times as many people than tuned in to the CBS airing of Tony Awards on Sunday evening. In terms of viewership, this was the worst performing year in Tony history, though those concerned about the future of the nationwide telecast may take some solace in the fact that the Tonys did beat out an ABC documentary about the Hamptons as well as Fox's new reality show, Bachelorettes in Alaska.
The Tony Awards program, hosted by Bernadette Peters and Gregory Hines (neither of whom, some had grumbled, had the requisite star power to pull big audiences), earned a 9 share nationwide, meaning that nine percent of TV sets in use were tuned to the gala; that's an estimated 7.97 million theater lovers and/or sports haters. The Lakers/Kings contest, meanwhile, landed a 27 share. The Tonys have never netted that kind of number, but this year's show was significantly below even the worst-rated previous outing: the Rosie O'Donnell-hosted awards in 2000. The telecast did better in New York, at least, landing a 14 share for the metro area. (All of these results are according to Nielsen's "fast nationals" ratings; final stats will be available later in the week.)
Hopefully, the walloping of the Tonys won't adversely affect the home life of Into the Woods star Vanessa Williams and her hubby, Lakers starting forward Rick Fox. Not only were the two in competing programs, but Williams lost the award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical to Sutton Foster while, over on NBC, Fox scored an estimable 13 points, 14 rebounds, and seven assists.