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Tony's Ratings Up and Bret Michaels' Goes Boom

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It's not surprising that this year's Tony Awards telecast scored the largest ratings in three years. The show was the most enjoyable telecast in years -- packed with fine musical performances ("Hair" stole the show), a snarky-yet-charming host in Neil Patrick Harris (sushi reference=zing!), and an eclectic mix of presenters and performers who you'd never expect to see on Broadway. Tell me honestly if you thought you'd ever see Poison warming up for Liza...or at the very least frontman Bret Michaels' forehead smashing into a Broadway set. I kid.

Before the awards went on, I hit the red carpet and the pre-show Lipton Gift Lounge (Frankie's Fruit & Chocolate and Anoname Jeans were just two perks for the celeb guests), and got some insight. Here's a random scrapbook of comments from the very long night...

Stephen Daldry was extremely nervous. Not for himself of course. The "Billy Elliot" director was concerned his three "Billy's" wouldn't take home the Best Actor in a Musical prize. "I'm so excited for them. I love them," he said like a father would of his kids. As everyone knows, the kids didn't go home empty and neither did the British director.

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Kristin Hanggi, director of the superkickass cool "Rock of Ages," disclosed that while it was a bummer to cut them out, some of the "most fun" she's ever had was narrowing down all those great cheesy songs of the '80s to be included in the show. "We had to cut 'Cherry Pie' from Warrant, and 'Round and Round' from Ratt," she said. Axl Rose blocked the show's creators from using "Welcome to the Jungle." "That would've been amazing," she said.

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"Billy Elliot's" best bud David Bologna didn't seem to be nervous at all -- wearing a painted-on-smile along with matching orange sneaks and a bowtie. "I wanted to stand out today," he said.

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Audra MacDonald on the bizarrely-thrilling cliffhanger of Private Practice: "Did it freak me out? No, because I know Amy [Brenneman] is signed for next season."

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Marc Kudisch, a nominee for "9 to 5: The Musical," is loving Dolly Parton's tunes. "She's written good music," the Broadway vet said with a smile. As to whether or not Dabney Coleman is aware of the fact that he's walking around with his mustache, he said, "Dabney Coleman knows I'm walking around with his mustache. What I do is nothing like he did in the film because to try to copy him would be stupid. I'll be honest with you, this [mustache] is more of an ode to Burt Reynolds."

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Lucy Arnez tried out for "Billy Elliot," but didn't get it. She's up for doing another show on Broadway but it has to be a good fit.

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Chandra Wilson lit up the red carpet. The "Grey's Anatomy" star was at the Tony's on the eve of stepping into the role of Mama Morton in "Chicago." Her hope? "To blend right in [with the cast]." Good luck doing that. She's much too good an actress for that to happen.