If the HBO special “The Pee-wee Herman Show on Broadway” wins an Emmy Award this September, will it be Pee-wee or his creator Paul Reubens who shows up to accept? “Maybe I would have to come up with a third character … a winner character who wins the Emmy,” said Reubens in a phone interview with senior editors Rob Licuria and Chris Beachum.
Reubens faces stiff competition from musical specials starring Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Paul McCartney plus last year’s winner “The Kennedy Center Honors.” The comic actor admitted, “I just hope my show (is nominated) for some awards. I felt really badly that the set designer, lighting designer, sound designer, and several of our technical people should have been nominated for the Tony (Awards). Some of those people should have been recognized.”
He debuted the character as part of the Groundlings improv troupe in L.A. 30 years ago and partnered with first-time director Tim Burton for the hit feature “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” in 1985. The following year, he brought “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” to Saturday mornings on CBS. Over its six-year run, the show collected 22 Daytime Emmys including three for Reubens (Art Direction in 1988 and two for Graphics/Title Design in 1991).
This new stage production is a rewrite of the original Groundlings version of the show. The late Phil Hartman was involved in that initial success and was remembered fondly by Reubens: “Phil was a close friend of mine…and was instrumental in the development and writing. Since he was gone, that was kind of my biggest question was what would I do there because his was an essential character. Phil’s spirit was there quite a bit.”