When the stardust settles at the Tonys tonight, the annual pageant of Broadway’s best may be renamed the Billys. We’ll be hearing that boy’s name a lot. The evening’s biggest award — Best Musical — will go to “Billy Elliot,” a blockbuster hit about a miner’s son who escapes a hard-luck life through ballet. More than just feel-good, it’s superbly realized and celebrates the fact that real talent shines even in the bleakest of surroundings. That’s pure Tony bait — and it deserves to win. “Billy” will also dance away with awards for direction (Stephen Daldry), book (Lee Hall) and choreography (Peter Darling) and collect precious metal for its set, lighting and sound design. One of the hard-to-call categories is Best Original Score. “Next to Normal,” a challenging musical about a family’s struggle with mental illness, will triumph. Elton John’s songs for “Billy Elliot” are good, and a few anthems even better than that. But Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s “Next to Normal” score is the best of the season, one that explores many emotions and expresses them beautifully through song. Voters will recognize that. David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik and Kiril Kulish, the teens who sing, dance and act their way through the role of Billy Elliot, are (toe)shoo-ins. Likewise, Alice Ripley, who gives a career-defining star turn as the troubled mom of “Next to Normal,” had better be polishing her acceptance speech for Best Leading Actress in a Musical. Some forecasters see Gregory Jbara, the hard-edged but devoted dad in “Billy Elliot,” winning for Featured Actor in a Musical. He’s terrific, but Christopher Sieber’s hilariously showy antics as the tiny tyrant in “Shrek the Musical” make a bigger impression. That will give Sieber, who performs the whole show on his knees, the leg up. “Shrek” will also chalk up a victory for its colorful, storybook-style costumes. Best Featured Actress in a Musical is a showdown between Karen Olivo in “West Side Story” and Haydn Gwynne in “Billy Elliot.” Olivo is a force to reckon with as Anita and leads a dizzying version of “America.” Gwynne captivates as Billy’s tough-but-tender teacher who is thrust into a drama that’s bigger than her own ambition. In the photo finish, it’ll be Gwynne. For the coveted Best Play prize, “God of Carnage” will feel the love from Tony voters. Yasmina Reza (who’s won before, for “Art”) has written a vinegary, very funny social satire that’s a bona-fide hit. All four “Carnage” leads — Marcia Gay Harden, Hope Davis, Jeff Daniels and James Gandolfini — are vying for Tonys. Oscar winner Harden will expand her trophy case for her finely calibrated, deliciously demonstrative take on a Brooklyn wife and mother whose nice veneer hides something far nastier. If “33 Variations” had been a better play, Jane Fonda, who played a dying music scholar, would be stiffer competition. Geoffrey Rush will leave Radio City Music Hall as Best Leading Actor in a Play for “Exit the King.” Going from clownish to poignant with nary a misstep, the “Shine” Academy Award winner breathed life beautifully into Ionesco’s dying monarch.
Angela Lansbury and Roger Robinson, nominated for Featured Actress and Actor in a Play, both play visionaries — quirky English psychic in “Blithe Spirit” for her; eccentric Pittsburgh mystic in “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” for him. I see them both going home with Tonys. It’ll be his first and her fifth. Broadway revivals seek to make everything old new and exciting again. The hippie-happy “Hair” will be crowned Best Revival of a Musical. The comic trilogy “The Norman Conquests” will live up to its title and win for Best Revival of a Play. Matthew Warchus will go home with a Tony for his direction of “Norman.” “Liza’s at the Palace,” starring a Certain Legend with a Z, will win for Best Special Theatrical Event. It was fun having Will Ferrell on Broadway and I hope he comes back again with something fresher than a George Bush routine. But anyone who saw Liza Minnelli earn one standing ovation after another got a lesson on why it’s called a “special event.”
The actress earned a whopping $27 million last year, Parade magazine reports in its April 12 issue. (She made the same amount in 2007 as well — out-earning Angelina Jolie , who made $14 million.) Compare Jen and Angie’s lives. Teen country star Taylor Swift took home $5.5 million — more than double the $2.25 Britney Spears made. And talk about a power couple: Jay-Z made $82 million, while his wife of a year Beyonce cashed $80 million. Tina Fey may resemble Sarah Palin, but their salaries are drastically different. The 30 Rock star banked $4.6 million; the Alaska governor made $125,000. SNL alum Will Ferrell made $31 million. Talk show host Kelly Ripa raked in $8 million, while Patrick Dempsey socked away $3.5 million on Grey’s Anatomy. Tyler Perry , famous for his “Madea” movies, cashed $125 million. Tiger Woods — who was out of commission with a knee injury for a few months — earned a whopping $125 million. Madonna ‘s former fling Alex Rodriguez banked $34 million with the Yankees. Race car driver Danica Patrick took home $7 million. Barbie — who just celebrated her 50th birthday — made the most of all: $3.3 billion!
Tell Us: how many million you would like to earn and with what.
“High School Musical 3: Senior Year” graduated with honors Saturday at the Kids’ Choice Awards. The Disney musical was selected as the favorite movie by audience votes at the 22nd annual slime-filled Nickelodeon spectacle held inside UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion. “High School Musical” star Vanessa Hudgens was also selected as the favorite movie actress. “Lately, a lot of people have been taking credit for bringing back the musical,” Zac Efron said while accepting the movie’s trophy. “The truth is we’ve known who’s been responsible for bringing back the musical all along. It was you guys!” The show’s hijinks kicked off with host and “Race to Witch Mountain” star Dwayne Johnson zip-lining over the audience of screaming teens and tweens into a “slime temple.” Johnson proceeded to spray the first row with gooey green slime. Other shenanigans included squirting singer Jesse McCartney with a fake microphone and Will Ferrell slipping and sliding down a hill. Winners included “iCarly” for TV show, “American Idol” for reality show, Jonas Brothers for music group and “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” for animated movie. Jack Black arrived in motorcycle sidecar to pick up his award for favorite voice from an animated film for “Kung Fu Panda.” Miley Cyrus was brought to tears when she was announced as favorite female singer. “I really thought I was gonna lose, so thank you, guys,” said Cyrus. Johnson said over 90 million viewer votes were cast at Nick’s Web site. Instead of envelopes, blimp recipients were revealed from inside spy-like steel briefcases. Some held surprises throughout the show. Before presenters Sandra Bullock and Hugh Jackman announced the “Twilight” series as favorite book, a briefcase doused the pair with green slime. The green theme took on an entirely different meaning when Cameron Diaz presented her “Gangs of New York” co-star Leonardo DiCaprio with the first-ever Big Green Help Award. The “Titanic” and “Revolutionary Road” actor was selected to receive the green blimp trophy because of his contribution and promotion of environmental issues. “Right now, our mother — our mother — all of our mothers, Mother Earth is hurting,” said DiCaprio. “And she needs a generation of thoughtful, caring and active kids like all of you to protect her for the future. You can help us win the battle to clean up our air, our water, our land, to protect our forests, our oceans and our wildlife.” Most of the blimp recipients were relegated to brief announcements before and after the commercials. Among those winners were “Wizards of Waverly Place” star Selena Gomez for TV actress, “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” star Dylan Sprouse for TV actor, “SpongeBob SquarePants” for cartoon, Jesse McCartney for male singer, Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” for song, Will Smith for movie actor, “Guitar Hero World Tour” for video game, Candace Parker for female athlete and Peyton Manning for male athlete. Earlier this year, controversy found its way into the show when pop star Chris Brown withdrew his name from Kids’ Choice contention. The nominations were announced shortly before his arrest for allegedly attacking girlfriend and fellow Kids’ Choice nominee Rihanna. Neither was in attendance Saturday, and Rihanna, twice nominated, lost in both categories. The show concluded with Johnson and a troop of Polynesian dancers summoning the “slime temple” to spew the sticky stuff all over the audience. Instead, the Jonas Brothers emerged and sang a cappella, causing slime to cascade over the boy band, Johnson, the dancers and much of the audience. “What you guys don’t know is that’s real boogers,” comedian Marlon Wayans said earlier in the show.