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Tonys 2013: The award goes to ... 'totally multi-talented' Neil Patrick Harris

Neil Patrick Harris hosted the 2013 Tonys, delivering a brash opening number, a soulful closing duet with Audra McDonald, and well-directed humor throughout

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The company Fizziology, which uses social media to forecast real world behavior, said Monday that social chatter about the entertainer was less than 1 percent negative on Sunday despite this being his fourth time hosting. (He previously hosted in 2009, 2011, and 2012.)

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With Harris hosting, you can bet there will be plenty of dancing and a few humorous bits sandwiched between a big opening number and another closing one, which becomes a reason to stick around even after the best musical is crowned.

Other awards shows end with a statuette and a fizzle, but the Tonys with Harris mean an impossibly fast wrap-up rap. (He has collaborated with theater veterans Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tom Kitt, and Tommy Kail on his act over the years).

Harris' ability to generate high Tonys ratings has been mixed, largely depending on the strength of the season's stage shows and what other programming the telecast is up against. .

The first time he emceed, the show was seen by 7.45 million people, a 19 percent increase over 2008. His 2011 show was seen by 6.9 million viewers or roughly the same number as 2010, the only year of the past five when Harris wasn't hosting.

Last year, the telecast was seen by 6 million viewers, the second-lowest ratings for the Tony Awards since 1988. It was up against the season finale of AMC's "Mad Men."

According to preliminary Nielsen figures released Monday, Harris helped the latest show's viewership jump to 7.24 million people, its largest audience in four years, despite another "Mad Men" episode and an NBA finals game.

While Tony numbers might seem piddly to the mighty draw of the Academy Award, which recently attracted 40.3 million people, more and more awards shows seem to be stealing from Broadway.

This year's Oscars imported Tony Award-winning designer Derek McLane to build the sets. And the Grammys have clearly upped the staging of their songs and costumes. (Carrie Underwood even used projections on her white dress at the Grammys this year.)

Weiss and Kirshner, who have won six Emmy Awards since 2005 as producers of the Tonys, were the ones who first took a chance on Harris and said that they learn something from every show.

"Unfortunately, when you're producing these shows, you learn from your mistakes. If you knew what went on backstage last night, you'd understand," said Kirshner, with a laugh.

"We'll look at the tape and it's sort of like a football team: We'll look at the film and learn for the next one. But I felt good last night."

Some of the highlights included new Tony winner Cyndi Lauper memorializing the year's dead with a moving rendition of "True Colors," as well as quick taped segments that showed the winners' speeches in lesser-known categories, giving everyone their due without gobbling up valuable time.

"A lot of people have issues with the number of awards on awards shows," Weiss said. "But we're trying to not take a sledgehammer. We're trying to remember that we're here to honor people. Ratings are important but we're here to honor an industry and the people who create for that industry."

Follow Mark Kennedy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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