CHLOË SEVIGNY AND THE BUTLER
After being Oscar-nominated for playing the love interest of Oscar-winning Hilary Swank in Boys Don't Cry, Chloë Sevigny has been getting the big Hollywood rush, so it's rather surprising to find her tempering all of that with some stage work Off-Broadway. Sevigny just signed up for The New Group's revival of Joe Orton's black comedy What the Butler Saw, which Scott Elliott is putting into rehearsal in late October; it will run from November through mid-December at the Theater at St. Clement's. Also aboard will be Dylan Baker, who has landed a mother lode of movie work (The Cell, etc. ) since his Oscar-worthy work in Happiness. Peter Frechette from Eastern Standard and Lisa Emery from Dinner With Friends co-star with Max Baker. After the play's run, Sevigny starts Uprising, director Jon Avnet's film about the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto revolt. And Baker hits feature screens on December 20 in the new Kevin Costner flick about the Cuban missile crisis, Thirteen Days; he plays Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara to Bruce Greenwood's JFK and Steven Culp's RFK.
BATTLE OF THE BANKHEADS
Tallulah would have loved it. The late actress is stage-center in not one, not two, but three new plays circling for openings in New York. The first Bankhead beachhead was established by Tovah Feldshuh, whose Tallulah Hallelujah! started previewing last Tuesday for an October 10 bow at the Douglas Fairbanks Theater.
Upstaging and undercutting that event, Kathleen Turner wangled a two-part interview with Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America about the Tallulah she's touring to Broadway, and that "just happened" to air last Monday and Tuesday. (Those who've followed Turner's Broadway career--i.e., Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Indiscretions--might or might not have predicted that Tallulah would have been her next stop; her Maggie the Cat sounded like something from Dogpatch.)
And then there's Dahling, which goes into previews October 19 for a premiere nine days later at the Grove Street Playhouse. Like Feldshuh, Nan Schmid wrote her Tallulah take--and both plays emphasize that they're not one-woman shows like Turner's.
TIME TO RE-TIRE
At the auction of the Cats set, no one could scratch up a decent bid for the enormous tire that took Grizabella to the Heaviside Layer, so it was given--with some degree of appropriateness--to the oldest living cat in Broadway captivity, Marlene Danielle, who stayed with the show for the whole 18 years.
But life goes on for the Grizabellas. Liz Callaway winged back from three Chicago concerts just in time for the last meow, then started work on a new CD. Betty Buckley, the first (and Tony-winning) Grizabella, has concerts going on as well--plus a recurring role on TV's OZ, of all things. When the series' new season begins in January, you'll be able to catch her playing the mother one of the prisoners never knew he had. Parenthetically: Betty's former sister-in-law, Candy Buckley, participated in the Hal Prince-staged reading of Hollywood Arms, which Carrie Hamilton and mom Carol Burnett have adapted from the latter's memoir, One Mo' Time. Jean Smart, Lynn Cohen, and Tony-winner Frank Wood (Side Man) co-starred.
EIGHT IS ENOUGH
Eileen Heckart, who had already won seven (7) awards for The Waverly Gallery, has now acquired an eighth: The Alzheimer's group just named her Humanitarian of the Year for her very humane portrayal of a dotty senior citizen in that Kenneth Lonergan play....After the low marks for High Infidelity, John Davidson and Heckart's director-son, Luke Yankee, are consoling themselves with Terrence McNally's theater insider comedy It's Only a Play in Florida; Jane White co-stars....The day before Halloween, Christopher Sieber goes Gaston on us in Beauty and the Beast, essentially sending up the preening prince he played in Triumph of Love. He'll join the show in mid-November. No word yet as to who will replace Andrea McArdle as the [female] beauty half of the act in 2001....Well, it seems that Jim Walton will be let off from The Music Man on October 20 and 21 so he can be a part of Heart and Soul: The Songs of Frank Loesser, launching the third season of Lincoln Center's American Songbook series hosted by Jonathan Schwartz. In addition to the names we dropped last week, the show will feature Margaret Whiting, Billy Stritch, Tony-winner Lillias White, and Shuler Hensley (the American who received tremendous praise for his portrayal of Judd in the recent London production of Oklahoma!)....While she was toiling for nothing in a nifty little Musicals Tonight! concert reading of I Married an Angel, Kathy Fitzgerald got the happy word that she'll be working for good money this spring in The Producers.
IMITATION OF LIFE
The Mayor of Whoville in the upcoming Seussical, Stuart Zagnit, has a brother who was recently elected to his second term as mayor of Scotswood, NJ. "Our mother is looking down and smiling, definitely," sez Stu....Katharine Houghton, who film-debuted as the daughter of her real-life aunt (Katharine Houghton Hepburn) in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, has been performing with Anthony Newfield a play of her own invention titled Best-Laid Plans: A Dangerous Liaison in the Cold War. She plays an American who meets a Russian man when she's 18 and then goes back to see him 25 years later. They did the Berkshire Theater Festival, and now have hopes for Off-Broadway....Mark Nelson, the director of the Drama Dept.'s gloriously well-received revival of June Moon, returned to acting this summer for the first time in two years, performing The Cosmonaut's Last Message at the La Jolla Playhouse. Jan Triska played the cosmonaut in question. This play by a new Scottish writer, David Greig, is being eyed for a New York premiere by Manhattan Class Company....David Lindsay-Abaire's latest work is called We Never Met. "It's set in the '30s in Ohio," he says. "It's about two unhappy couples and a friend who wants to go fight in the Spanish Civil War, and what happens as a result of that."....Finally: Will Manhattan Theatre Club be stepping up to Broadway status by acquiring the Biltmore? Just wondering.