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Surprise, surprise for fan of Broadway and NBA

By Alan Pergament

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a big fan of Broadway and basketball and not necessarily in that order.

One of my favorite Broadway tunes is "She Likes Basketball" from the musical "Promises, Promises." I've even memorized the lyrics, though you wouldn't want me to hear me sing the Burt Bacharach-Hal David song.

I have seen two of Sunday's Tony-nominated musicals -- "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" and "Beautiful" -- so I had some rooting interest.

I expect Miami Heat star LeBron James to end his National Basketball Association career as the greatest player of all time, which is why I was very interested in Game 2 of the Heat's current rematch in the NBA Finals with the San Antonio Spurs.

This is all my way of telling you that I was a little conflicted Sunday night when the NBA Finals on ABC went head-to-head with the Tony Awards hosted by Hugh Jackman on CBS.

In the end, I figured it was a no-brainer. You can't DVR an NBA game and have the same viewing experience as you can watching live. But you can watch the Tonys on your DVR and enjoy it better in a way. You can speed through the slow parts or the performances you don't care for.

So I went with Heat-Spurs live, turned to the Tonys at halftime and other commercial breaks and watched the rest of the Broadway show on Monday via the DVR.

I was a little shocked that the majority of Western New York chose Broadway over the NBA. I thought that the Tonys would have been such mediocre competition for great basketball that the NBA would dominate the ratings here.

The final score from Nielsen locally: The Tonys on Channel 4: 6.8. The NBA on Channel 7: 5.8. 

I'd call that an upset. I guess --half jokingly -- that might mean that many female fans of Jackman controlled the clicker here and I doubt many of their partners believe "She Likes Basketball."

The good news for basketball fans is that the 5.8 rating on Channel 7 for Game 2 of the Finals was higher than the 5.1 for Game 1 and that Sunday's game beat NBC's coverage of Miss USA locally. Miss USA had a 5.1 rating on Channel 2, the local NBC affilate. 

The local ratings for the Finals here are an indication of two things -- this isn't much of an NBA town and Channel 7 isn't much of an ABC affiliate. Conspiracy theorists might argue that Channel 7's failure to purchase Nielsen ratings doesn't help. 

While ratings in the Buffalo market are the best in the country outside of the competing teams for the Stanley Cup  Finals between Los Angeles and New York, the ratings for the NBA Finals here have been a little more than half the national average in the 56 overnight markets that get ratings. Game 2 of the Heat-Spurs series had a 10.2 overnight rating nationally and easily defeated the Tonys.

WNY is one of the rare markets in which the ratings for the first two games of the NHL Finals were much higher than the ratings for the first two games of the NBA finals.

Before Sunday's Game 2, I told a close friend that I thought the stupid controversy surrounding the cramps that sidelined James in the final minutes of the Heat's game loss would inspire him in the rest of the series. Sure enough, he scored 35 points in the Heat's Game 2 win in an award-winning performance.

Speaking of awards, I watched the Tonys Monday afternoon. I thought it would take 90 minutes or so without commercials and by speeding through the slow parts.

It took me about two hours and 15 minutes because there weren't many slow parts. The only part that I sped through was the song from "Wicked,"  one of the few hit Broadway musicals that I haven't seen. I had wished I had sped through a number from "Rocky." I'm not even sure if I should call it a number.

While watching Monday, I could see why the Tonys upset the NBA here. Led by the extraordinarily likable and talented Jackman, it was a fun time. The performances were, well, beautiful and in Neil Patrick Harris' case ridiculously entertaining. And the winners made some great speeches (Mark Rylance of "Twelfth Night" and Audra McDonald of "Last Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill') or were so excited (Jessie Mueller of "Beautiful,"  Lena Hall ("Hedwig and the Angry Inch") that their joy was infectious.

Having seen "A Gentleman's Guide," I wasn't surprised it was named best musical. It's an incredibly entertaining musical led by Jefferson Mays in multiple roles. However, future theatergoers should be advised that the dialogue moves extremely fast and the only memorable tune was performed on Sunday's show.

I thought Mueller did a very good job playing Carole King in "Beautiful" and, of course, the music was great. But the story was thinner than a New York City model.

Still if you were to ask me whether to see either "Guide" or "Beautiful," it would be a no-brainer. Go and see both. They are as enjoyable as a good game at Madison Square Garden.


Music | Television | TV news
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About Talkin' TV

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament has continued to blog about television topics since retiring in 2010 as The News' television writer after 28 years on the beat. From local on-air personalities to ratings to the latest on network and cable programming, he keeps you informed.

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