O'Donnell to host awards for second year straight

NEW YORK — The 52nd annual Tony Awards broadcast on June 7 could very well look like a revival of the 51st: Rosie O’Donnell will be back again to host and the Radio City Music Hall will be the venue.

Also like last year, CBS and PBS will share the broadcast, with a one-hour pre-show airing from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on PBS followed by the two-hour event on CBS. The pre-show, officially titled “Broadway ’98: Launching the Tony Awards,” will once again include taped segments and live coverage of awards in the less attention-grabbing categories.

O’Donnell, who will be credited as a producer of the broadcast, has long been expected to return, but her appearance was confirmed by the show’s spokesman Tuesday. Last year, with her enthusiastic plugging of Broadway and the Tonys on her daily talk show, O’Donnell helped push the combined PBS/CBS ratings to 9.6 and a 16 share, easily the highest in a decade. This year’s program will be exec produced by Walter C. Miller, with Jac Venza exec producing the PBS pre-show.

Tony Award nominations will be announced May 4.

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