EW.com goes backstage at the Tony Awards
Mel Brooks charms, Nathan Lane remembers, and Mary Louise Parker plays to an empty house -- for once
Gwyneth did the Time Warp. ”The Full Monty” showed off its assets. And both God and Hitler got thanked. But those were about the only surprises at the 2001 Tony Awards. Everyone expected ”The Producers” to make a clean sweep of it, which it did: The megahit musical won in every category in which it was nominated. And everyone expected creator Mel Brooks to be his usual charming, politically incorrect self (hence the Hitler shout out). With 12 prizes, ”The Producers” becomes the winningest show in Tony history. And we have a feeling Brooks’ three acceptance speeches set some sort of record as well.
MEL-LIFLUOUS BROOKS After stepping up to the microphone without his writing partner Thomas Meehan (who never got to say thanks), pulling a Julia Roberts on the conductor (”Stop the music, will you?”), and speaking for ”The Producers”’ producers after the Best Musical win, Brooks was happy to continue chatting in the press room. He told reporters he is ”toying with the notion” of putting ”Young Frankenstein” on stage, he’d love to create an original Broadway show (”If that could happen, I’ll be the happiest Jew in town”), and he was feeling ”pretty damn good.” The self professed Frank Loesser, Cole Porter, and Irving Berlin fan was particularly proud of his win for Best Original Score: ”I love music. That’s my first love. My second is [my wife] Anne Bancroft and she’s standing in the hall.” When he finally made his exit, Brooks (and Bancroft) spent the rest of the evening partying with Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica Parker, and the elated cast and crew at Bryant Park Grill.
HOT TICKET Can’t get into ”The Producers”? Don’t feel bad. Even presenter Natasha Richardson (a 1998 Tony winner for ”Cabaret”) hasn’t seen the hottest show in town. ”I’ve called Sarah Jessica and Matthew’s assistant twice and they haven’t called back,” she confessed. Richardson was a pinch hitter at the podium: She got the call Friday when Sigourney Weaver dropped out. Surely she deserves some sort of reward for that — say, two tickets to ”The Producers”?
EDNA GET YOUR GUN? The always fabulous Dame Edna Everage (a.k.a. Barry Humphries) shocked viewers by announcing she’ll be picking up Reba McEntire’s pistols in ”Annie Get Your Gun,” and McEntire, for one, couldn’t be happier. ”That’s a great idea. The outfits Dame Edna has will really be an asset to Annie,” McEntire said. ”You know what, though? Dame Edna will do a lot of ad libbing. I don’t know if the writers will like her. But it’ll be a lot of fun.”
TWO LANE STREET As cohost and eventual winner for Best Actor in a Musical, Lane pretty much ceded the show’s opening monologue to costar Broderick — and then dragged him on stage during his acceptance speech. ”We’ve really become friends,” said Lane. ”I didn’t know how I could stand there and not have him standing next to me.” The uncharacteristically subdued comic dedicated his trophy to late mom Nora, who he said was always supportive of his showbiz dreams. ”And we were a very dysfunctional Irish Catholic family, so it sounded good,” he quipped. On the ”Producers” phenomenon, the actor credited Brooks: ”Mel has been a hero to me. I’m just glad to be here. If you saw my sitcom [1998’s brief ”Encore! Encore!”] you’d know how glad.”
INSTANT CARMELA Presenter Edie Falco (”The Sopranos”) revealed that she wrote her own one liner about being happy to be on Sunday night TV without a plate of ziti. Credit her for being a lot funnier than the Tony writers: They wanted the former Broadway actress to say she’d always wanted do a musical ”and does anyone need a Soprano?” (Insert groan here.)
PARKER METER By the time Best Actress in a Drama winner Mary Louise Parker made her way to the press room, most of the journalists had gone home. ”Hello everybody!” she laughed, making her way up to the empty stage and grabbing the nonworking microphone. ”I’m working my ass off,” she said of her play, ”Proof” (which with three awards, including Best Play, was the evening’s second biggest winner). She’s set to star in the Pulitzer Prize winner through Labor Day. After that? ”I hope it closes the second I leave!” Just kidding, producers, just kidding.
See InStyle‘s coverage of the aftershow parties.