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Who's hosting the Tonys? Who isn't?

Turns out Oprah will host the Tonys next month after all. So will Julia Roberts, Eric McCormack, Ralph Fiennes, Cynthia Nixon, Martin Short, Alfre Woodward, Anna Paquin, and dozens of others. That’s right: 60 hosts for the 60th annual Tonys. ”The 60th Anniversary show is bigger than just one host,” say the ceremony’s producers. ”So we’ve put together a line-up of 60 stars from the stage to lead our celebration.” Uh, didn’t the Emmys try this ploy three years ago? (For that matter, so did the Tonys themselves, back in 1999.)

Obviously, 60 ”hosts” means no host. Tony producers would probably have been happy to have Hugh Jackman return for a fourth straight year, especially since X-Men: The Last Stand will probably still be riding high at the box office when CBS airs the awards show on June 11. At the Last Stand junket two weeks ago, Jackman told me that they did ask him back, but he said he had to bow out over family obligations and hoped to be asked back next year.

The bigger question: Is all this star power enough to pull this show out of its usual ratings basement? Answer: Probably not. In fact, it’s hard to say what would draw a decent-sized TV audience for the Tonys: A show tunes medley sung by Taylor Hicks and Katharine McPhee? An extreme makeover of someone’s home by Broadway set designers? (Watch out for that plunging chandelier, folks!) Avenue Q-style puppet sex? What’ll it take, PopWatchers?

Originally posted May 25 2006 — 3:14 PM EDT

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