James Corden will host 2016 Tony Awards. Will viewers tune in?

'Late Late Show' host James Corden starred in the big-screen musical 'Into the Woods' and won a Tony Award for his work in 'One Man, Two Guvnors.'

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
James Corden arrives at the Hollywood Film Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. in 2015.

Tony Award-winning actor and the host of CBS’s “Late Late Show” James Corden will host this year’s Tony Awards ceremony.

This year’s contenders will include the musical phenomenon “Hamilton” as well as such productions as “King Charles III,” “Noises Off,” and “The Color Purple.”

Corden won a Tony Award for best actor in a play in 2012 for his work in the production “One Man, Two Guvnors.” 

He has since acted in the 2014 film version of the musical “Into the Woods” as well as the 2013 movie “Begin Again” and the 2015 movie “The Lady in the Van.” He began his time as host of “Late” this past March.

Corden follows such recent hosts as Alan Cumming, Kristin Chenoweth, Neil Patrick Harris, and Hugh Jackman. 

Will Corden be able to draw viewers to the ratings-challenged Tony Awards broadcast?

Last year, when Chenoweth and Cumming hosted, the Tonys drew the fewest viewers 18 to 49 years old in its history. The lowest ratings ever for total viewers came in 2012, when Harris hosted for the third go-round. 

Will Corden be able to bring in interest? He brought more 18- to 49-year-olds to late night than his “Late Late” predecessor, Craig Ferguson, and according to the Hollywood Reporter, Corden comes in behind such hosts as Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, and Seth Meyers but ahead of Conan O’Brien and Carson Daly. 

We’ll see when the ceremony airs if Corden has enough of a crossover appeal with non-theater fans to bring good ratings to the TV show. “Into the Woods” was a box office hit and he’s been on the air with "Late Late" for almost a year now. 

Ratings for the Tonys have been low for years, with New York Times writer Robin Pogrebin writing in 2001 that the then-big hit on the White Way, “The Producers,” “was apparently insufficient to draw significantly more viewers to the Tony Awards broadcast on Sunday night than had watched in the past few years.” 

Those behind the Tony Awards have recruited hosts with jobs outside of the stage for some time now, perhaps thinking that non-theater fans will tune in to see these personalities. These selections include Harris, who starred on the CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother,” and Jackman, who stars in the “X-Men” franchise. 

So why do ratings remain low? 

Business Insider writer Kirsten Acuna wrote in 2012, following the lowest-ever total viewership for the ceremony, “It's no secret the Tony Awards aren't a huge audience draw. Outside the East Coast, not many demographics care about Broadway.” 

And last year, Entertainment Weekly writer Mark Harris wrote that the Tony Awards may be alienating the people who will tune in – the Broadway fans.

“Recognizing history is something the Tonys, in recent years, have become not just indifferent to but openly fearful about,” Harris wrote. “No teenager decides to endure a three-hour show just because you’ve promised that Nick Jonas or Ashley Tisdale is going to present or that Vanessa Hudgens will sing something from ‘Gigi’; they watch because they want to, or they don’t watch… It should be by, about, and for people who love Broadway theater – and in fact, that’s who’s watching.”

Will this year be different? If it is, it could be because of that little show called “Hamilton.” The promise of a number or two from the musical being performed during the telecast could bring in more viewers.

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