READY FOR HER CLOSE-UP?
They shot Oklahoma! in Arizona--so perhaps, to Hollywood's way of thinking, it's logical that they would film South Pacific in Australia. Cameras are cranking up there for the three-hour TV-movie version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, directed by Dick Pearce and starring Glenn Close as World War II's favorite "cockeyed optimist," Nellie Forbush. Her Emile DeBecque--Rade Sherbedgia--comes hot off M-I: 2. Harry Connick Jr. is Lieutenant Cable, and Murphy Brown's Robert Pastorelli is Luther Billis. This new adaptation by Larry Cohen, which will be released as feature fare in Australia and abroad, will include the whole R&H score (as per Close's insistence) and will also mine some characters and situations from James Michener's original Tales of the South Pacific.
In other film news...Tony nominee Michael Berresse, who treats the Kiss Me, Kate set as his own private Jungle Gym, has climbed to even more unexpected heights: Stephen Spielberg has cast him in his new movie, A.I.--as a stage manager! Filming begins in October.
GOING AND COMING
Bernadette Peters' absolutely last performance in Annie Get Your Gun is September 3. Producers Barry and Fran Weissler have the call out for a commercial commodity who can sing 13 songs eight times a week. Hello, out there!
That transplanted British actor, Brian Murray, will play a transplanted British writer in Theresa Rebeck's The Butterfly Collection, which starts rehearsals at Playwrights Horizons in August.
DOUBLE YOUR PRESSURE, DOUBLE YOUR FUN
As if he didn't already have enough to do, delivering his Tony-nominated performance in Dirty Blonde and prepping for his next Broadway outing (Seussical), Kevin Chamberlin managed to squeeze in a little workshop that Manhattan Theatre Club whooped up under the direction of Christopher Ashley for a Glenn Slater-Steve Weiner revue on neurotic cave-dwellers of today, titled The New Yorkers. Also featured: Jessica Stone of June Moon , Christopher Fitzgerald of Saturday Night, Alison Fraser of The Green Heart, and Norm Lewis of The Wild Party. The buzz is good.
Another double-duty demon is Edward Hibbert, who ended his reign as the wicked dowager queen in The Green Bird on June 4. He is--and has been, for the past decade--a literary agent with Donadio-Olsen. It was Hibbert who hustled Christopher Bram's 1996 novel on director James Whale, Father of Frankenstein, to the movies, resulting in the Oscar-winning Best Screenplay of 1998, Bill Condon's Gods and Monsters. Current clients include Elia Kazan's wife, Frances, whose first novel will be published by Random House in the spring; and Billy Wilder's biographer, Ed Sikov, who's now toiling over a Peter Sellers bio.Hibbert has another client who'll be fresh off the St. Martin's Press in October: Eric Myers, via his Uncle Mame: The Story of Patrick Dennis. "It was just a fascinating experience, putting the pieces of a life together," says Myers--who is, by day, a unit publicist for movies. "I've worked on the book for two years and interviewed more than a hundred people who knew Dennis. One of the misconceptions that I hope this book will clear up for good is that he mistreated his aunt. This simply was not the case."
DAME EDNA VS. THE SON OF CHARLEMAGNE
Dame Edna Everage (a.k.a. Barry Humphries) reigned on Pippin's parade when (s)he scheduled a Sardi's press conference at the exact time that Paper Mill Playhouse execs had set aside for a press preview of its pipin' hot Pippin revival (June 7-23). Quelle quandary!--but the great dame won (us, at least) by a majority of one. Dressed in a sprightly new spring frock which she claimed had been hand-painted by visually challenged nuns, Australia's First Lady outlined the stops for the continuatoin of Dame Edna: The Royal Tour--a task that would have taken an average diva two minutes, but which, with ditzy riffs and digressions, took this Dame a good half hour. A very good half hour.
"I know nothing about these countries," she admitted, listing an itinerary which will include Minneapolis (October 24-November 5), Toronto (November 7-December 17), Fort Lauderdale (January 2-21), Palm Beach (January 23-February 4), Clearwater (February 6-11), Boston (February 20-March 18), Detroit (March 20-25--"Maybe we can cancel that"), Chicago (March 27-April 8), Phoenix (April 17-29), Seattle (May 1-13), Los Angeles (May 15-27) and Denver (June 13-July 2). Dame Edna also revealed some theatrical options she had been entertaining before deciding on the tour: "I was to take Donna [Hanover Giuliani]'s slot in The Vagina Monologues--maybe 'slot' is the wrong word. And I was thinking about an Australian version of Hedda Gabler, called Edna Gabler."Meanwhile, word filtered back from those who attended the Pippin preview that Jack Noseworthy was particularly terrific in the title role. The show's original creators--book writer Roger O. Hirson and tunesmith Stephen Schwartz--are billing this second coming as a "reconceived production" (read: de-Fossefied), and the choreographer in charge of the new steps is Rob Ashford. His next stop is Thoroughly Modern Millie, which will lift off in San Diego in August. ********************
D-DAY, THE 12th OF JUNE
Are you aware of how many worthy organizations will be yanking at your purse strings this coming Monday? June 12 is tantamount to a charity mugging, and the stars are out in full force. Apart from galas for the New York City Ballet and The Whitney Museum, The Actors' Fund of America has hired out the New Amsterdam for its "First You Dream" event benefiting its Catastrophic Care Program and the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. Not only will Reeve be honored, but also Bran Pace, the young Jolson actor who was shot during a Baltimore robbery and is now paralyzed from the chest down. Performers include Kristen Chenoweth, Blythe Danner, Rosemary Harris, Heather Headley, Cherry Jones, Sharon Lawrence, Tsidi Le Loka, Nathan Lane, Marin Mazzie, Idina Menzel, Paige Price, Sherie René Scott, and Amy Spanger
Meanwhile, over at the Tribeca Rooftop, Liz Smith is hosting a Dominick Dunne do that will benefit The New Group, and the guest list glitters: Lauren Bacall, Phil Donahue, Griffin Dunne, Chloe Sevigny, Stephen Sondheim, Elaine Stritch, Marlo Thomas, and Gloria Vanderbilt.
The New York City Gay Men's Chorus, now in its 20th year, will spend the night at Carnegie Hall leafing through A Gay Century Song Book, with pages turned by Betty Buckley, Joel Grey, John McMartin, Joyce Castle, Theodore Middleton, and Gregg Payne. And wouldn't you know that Monday would be the night Audra McDonald would choose to give her only New York concert of the year--at Town Hall--benefiting the Gay Men's Health Crisis?
If you really want to pack your evening, there are a couple of promising preliminary (i.e., pre-8 p.m.) events: Frank Rich is discussing "Hollywood and the Homosexual" with Arthur Laurents, Paul Rudnick, and Christine Vachon (the producer of Boys Don't Cry) at The New York Times...and, up at the Museum of the City of New York, Arthur Gelb (the man who brought Rich to The Times) will join his wife, Barbara Gelb, in readings from their new Applause book, O'Neill: Life With Monte Cristo.
Should none of the above strike your fancy, you might just sidle over to Arci's Place (450 Park Avenue South) and check out the wonderful composer/lyricist Steven Lutvak, whose Mondays-only stint there continues through the month of June. Yours truly went the other night because some colleagues insisted I check him out. (The WPA will present Lutvak's musicalization of A. R. Gurney's The Wayside Motor Inn in the spring of 2001, so you'd be wise to give him a look and a listen now.) I don't want to give away too much about his show, because his special brand of melody, wit, and edge are part of the surprise. Go!