James Corden to host Tony Awards — but can he reverse ratings slide?

James Corden to host Tony Awards — but can he reverse ratings slide?
James Corden, photographed in Studio City in 2015,will host this year's Tony Awards, airing June 12 on CBS. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

CBS has tapped one of its own comedic talents to host one of its most prestigious awards-show telecasts — but will it be enough to bring back viewers?

James Corden will follow in the high-kicking footsteps of Hugh Jackman and Neil Patrick Harris as the new host of the Tony Awards ceremony, organizers announced Tuesday.

This year's ceremony, set for June 12, will take place at the Beacon Theatre in New York and will air live on CBS, with a delay for the West Coast.

Corden is host of CBS' "The Late Late Show," which tapes at CBS Television City in Los Angeles, and is himself a past Tony winner for his performance in the 2012 stage comedy "One Man, Two Guvnors."


As the emcee of Broadway's biggest night, the British actor will face the challenge of reversing the Tony's sliding ratings, which last year dropped 10% to about 6.4 million viewers, in the face of competition from the NBA finals.

The Tony's telecast has wrestled with dismal ratings in recent years, with viewership plummeting to a little more than 6 million in 2012. Such well-known hosts as Jackman and Harris have been unable to stanch the exodus of viewers.

The recent lows come after a high of 7.4 million viewers who watched the Tony Awards telecast in 2009.

To put the numbers in perspective, last year's Academy Awards telecast on ABC averaged close to 37.7 million viewers, while the Emmys on Fox drew about 11.9 million.

This year's Tony Awards broadcast could benefit from strong national interest in the musical "Hamilton," which opened on Broadway in August and is eligible for Tony consideration this season.

The musical, which is coming to L.A. next year, uses hip-hop and rap music to tell the story of Alexander Hamilton, a founding father and first secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

In a release Tuesday, Corden said, "I consider it a huge honor to be asked to host such an incredible night. It's gonna be fun. I can't wait to dust off my tap shoes!"

The British actor also appeared on Broadway in the Alan Bennett play "The History Boys."

His recent film credits include a brief role in "The Lady in the Van," starring Maggie Smith and adapted from the Bennett play of the same name, and a major part as the Baker in 2014's "Into the Woods."

Twitter: @DavidNgLAT