NEW YORK – The producers of the Tony Awards have asked X- Men star Hugh Jackman to host this year's telecast, theater sources told The New York Post yesterday.
Jackman's not expected to accept, the sources said, but he will probably appear on the telecast as a presenter and may even perform.
The typical X-Men fan doesn't know this, but Jackman is one of the musical theater's most sought-after leading men.
He won acclaim as Curly in the London production of Oklahoma! several years ago. But he didn't come with the production to Broadway, which is one reason why it didn't fare as well here as it did there.
A year ago, Broadway's top theater owners and producers were raving about his performance as the late pop singer Peter Allen in a workshop production of The Boy From Oz.
Jackman will make his Broadway debut in the fall at the Imperial Theatre in that musical, which is expected to be one of next season's major hits.
There was talk this week that Jackman would perform a number from The Boy From Oz on the telecast, but the show's producers decided that, out of context, a Peter Allen song performed by a guy doing a Peter Allen imitation might baffle viewers.
So Jackman will sing a Broadway standard -- possibly something from Oklahoma!
As part of his deal to appear on the Tonys, however, Jackman will be given plenty of time to plug The Boy From Oz, for which tickets are already on sale.
Tony producers, meanwhile, are still trying to find a host.
As The Post reported this week, they're pretty close to signing up Billy Joel as a performer -- and producers of his Movin' Out are pushing for Joel to open the telecast.
That would give Movin' Out a big boost at the box office, since Tony viewership is at its peak at the start.
Business around Broadway was up considerably this week, thanks to all the publicity generated by the Tony nominations as well as the milder weather.
Daily ticket sales for Movin' Out doubled after the nominations were announced, jumping from the normal daily wrap of $60,000 up to $120,000 on Monday and holding there ever since.
The producers were delighted with their 10 nominations -- including three for dancers Ashley Tuttle, Elizabeth Parkinson and Keith Roberts that came as welcome surprises. They think the nominations will lure more Billy Joel fans.
Tony nominee Harvey Fierstein may think Hairspray is "the underdog," but that's not how it looks at the box office. The blockbuster, which usually sells well over $100,000 worth of tickets a day, is now zipping past $200,000. It would probably go even higher but there simply aren't that many tickets to be had.
The Roundabout's acclaimed revival of Nine is taking in more than $100,000 a day. It would net even more but it only has about 1,000 seats to sell each performance, since the theater's packed with Roundabout subscribers and Tony voters.
"Nine" has extended its run until Sept. 10, but I wouldn't wait too long to get tickets -- sources say the extension is on its way to selling out.
Bernadette Peters seems to be up and running in Gypsy again and, with a Tony nomination under her belt, is making the cash register ring regularly at about $200,000 a day.
Again, that figure would be higher but for lack of inventory, given the show's $7 million advance sales and the shuffling of seats to accommodate second-night critics who couldn't see Peters last week because she missed so many performances.