Liz Smith: Neil Patrick Harris Owns the Tony Awards

Tony host Neil Patrick Harris

And more from our Liz: No monogamy, please — we’re Hugh Hefner!


That was a highly emotional Frances McDormand accepting her Tony Award Sunday night for Best Leading Actress in a Play. (The play is David Lindsay-Abaire’s “Good People.”)

Miss McDormand was her usual dressed-down self, with lank hair, little makeup and a denim jacket thrown over some sort of long prairie dress. Oh, well. She is a brilliant actress and if she glammed up not only wouldn’t we recognize her, surely it might be an End of Times warning. I’d take the sight of Frances in couture far more seriously than natural disasters like tornadoes and earthquakes.

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SOMETIMES the thought of a three-hour award show saps my energy before the thing begins. I had options. Two books about two fascinating women — Patricia Bosworth’s upcoming biography on Jane Fonda and Don Van Natta’s bio on the great athlete Babe Didrikson Zaharias, “Wonder Girl.” Also, there was episode 9 (the next to last of the season) of HBO’s magnificent “Game of Thrones.” But then I noticed I could catch that again at 11:00 pm, after the Tonys had brought down the curtain.

The books could wait a bit. I settled in for the Tony Awards.

So, what about the Tonys? I won’t say three hours flew by like two, but the show had plenty of energy and moved remarkably well. And what a spot: the fabulous Beacon Theater up on 74th and Broadway. Once a great movie palace, The Beacon fell into grimy disrepair but was refurbished as venue for concerts and special events. And what is more special than The Tony Awards?

There were few surprises, although the money was on “Sister Act”’s Patina Miller to take the best actress in a musical. (Not that I am complaining about the divine Sutton Foster’s win for “Anything Goes.” And who could resist Sutton’s shout-out thank you to her long-time dresser, who is leaving to pursue life as an artist, “He’s leaving me, and it’s … great!” she wept.)

Thrilled about “Book of Mormon” and “War Horse.”  There wasn’t a winner I disapproved of. Then again, this has been an especially rich season. I don’t know I could have reasonably disapproved of any winner.

Of course there were the usual too-long speeches and endless thank-yous to wives, husbands, partners, children and parents, but, hell — it’s the actor’s big moment. Let them (and their wives, husbands, partners, children and parents) have it.

All the musical numbers knocked it right out of the ballpark, everybody was at the top of their game. Could Daniel Radcliffe be any more exuberant? (I think he loves his job even more than Miss McDormand!)

I was especially delighted to see Martha Wash onstage. One of the original Weather Girls, she belted out “It’s Raining Men” the great disco song that opens “Priscilla Queen of the Desert.” I danced many a night to that song, back in the day. And indeed, it really was raining men.

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BUT I am saving my biggest kudo for last. Neil Patrick Harris is just super. This guy can act, sing, dance, even rap, his final hilarious bit — how did he memorize all that?! (Okay, maybe there was a teleprompter, but still — mighty impressive.) His cool ease and obvious pleasure onstage as host of the Tonys is infectious. He’s developed a kind of Fred Astaire vibe. This is one charming, talented man. Some people thought his opening number, “Theater—It’s Not Just for The Gays” was in bad taste. I’m sure these are people who think the “Hangover” movies are simply hilarious.

Let’s just make Neil Patrick Harris the annual host of the Tony Awards. And Oscar could use him too.

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SO, I was quite alert by the time the Tony Awards ended, and I did watch “Game of Thrones.” I was shocked by the episode because something happened I hadn’t expected at all. Literally gasp-inducing. I can’t imagine what the season finale next week will bring — people might be fainting in front of their sets.

I won’t tell what the shocking incident was, because there are probably some who have missed it, and will catch up later in the week. But on that subject, shame, shame on some of you “Game of Thrones” fans who know the George R.R. Martin books — upon which the series is based. Must you go out of your way posting on IMDB and other websites, deliberating being a “spoiler?” You people know who you are — knock it off and be nice.

Oh, and congratulations to Peter Dinklage, who plays “Game of Thrones” witty, charmingly evil, quite sexy Tyrion Lannister. He and his wife Erica Scmidt are expecting their first child.

Dinklage has become the breakout star of the massive series, along with young Maisie Williams who plays the feisty tomboy, Arya Stark. This girl reminds me a lot of  Lindsay Lohan, before the fall. I don’t think Maisie will stumble similarly — she’s on her way, bigtime.

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ENDQUOTE: “Look, I’m celebrating life. I accept that it isn’t for everybody but my belief is that it doesn’t matter how many boyfriends of girlfriends you have, if you treat them well. In the end, I want to be remembered as someone who has had some positive impact on changing social sexual values.”

So says Hugh Hefner, still going strong at 85. And although Hef muses, he might “settle down.” (I guess only two girlfriends?) He still insists, “Monogamy? It’s possible, just not natural.”


4 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Bethany Christian says:

    I love Neil Patrick Harris. And I thought it was interesting that in a recent interview he talked about that now with children it would be nice to settle down and have a steady job.  This comment was made shortly after he talked about how much fun it was to co-host Regis and Kelly occasionaly.  Is there any chance?

    • avatar D C says:

      I thought he had a steady job — How I Met Your Mother.  Has that show been cancelled?  Maybe he’s tired of it. 

      • avatar Mr. Wow says:

        It’s still on, for two more seasons at least.   That doesn’t mean he can’t be the host with the most.

  2. avatar Steve C says:

    The Tony Awards has a challenge because audiences outside of NYC feel a bit left out–and yet I heard that ratings were up this year!  I agree that this awards show was exceptionally well produced….and there was lots of talent on display here—enough to give “out-of-towners” an insentive for a trip to New York.  And yes, yes!  Neil Patrick Harris should be the model of what an award’s show host should be!