Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherry
CHERRY JONES fills up her plate, MARC KUDISCH gets better billing, and RICHARD RODGERS is everywhere.
It's not easy keeping up with the Jones girl: She was part of the recent Ricky Ian Gordon concert at Alice Tully Hall (reading poetry between the songs). Next spring, she'll do a new adaptation of Lysistrata, adapted by Forum's Larry Gelbart and directed by Andrei Serban. And this month and next--right up until strike time--she's filming The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, written by the Oscar-winning author of Thelma and Louise, Callie Khouri, who's making her directing debut with it. Ashley Judd and Sandra Bullock top a cast that includes Oscar winners (Maggie Smith and Ellen Burstyn) and Oscar nominees (Brenda Blethyn and Shirley Knight) alike. "I play this scary, repressed, repressive, neurotic, Catholic mother," says Jones.
Dan Sullivan, who directed Jones in the Hiller roles referenced above, took a break from the University of Illinois where he's teaching to come in and cast Major Barbara and check out the sold-out Ten Unknowns, the Jon Robin Baitz play that he's transferring to Broadway in the fall. Last Sunday's matinee audience had two Tony winners in attendance: Ron Silver and Blythe Danner, the latter on her day off from Follies and with her Oscar-winning daughter, Gwyneth Paltrow, in tow.
MARKING IT WELL
They've upgraded Marc Kudisch's name in lights to the same size as Faith Prince and Bells Are Ringing....Mark Blum, who did such a yeoman-like job of moving the star load around the stage in The Best Man, has landed the role of the obnoxious kid show host Chuckles the Chipmunk in the Tom Selleck revival of A Thousand Clowns, which will arrive on Broadway July 15. (It apparently doesn't hurt that Blum resembles Jeffrey Richards, producer of both shows). Robert LuPone nabbed Martin Balsam's Oscar-winning role of the workaday, responsible brother of an eccentric free spirit (Selleck). Barbara Garrick, Nicolas King, and Bradford Cover complete the cast.
RODGERS, RODGERS EVERYWHERE
Next year will mark the 100th birthday of Richard Rodgers, and the little elves at R&H are making sure it's well marked. Two biographies are in the works--one for PBS' American Masters, the other a book to be written by Stephen Sondheim's Boswell, Meryle Secrest, and to be titled Somewhere for Me (due in the fall)....Three Rodgers and Hart evenings are set for Weill Recital Hall in February, March, and May of 2002, and a Carousel-in-concert will be done in the main hall at Carnegie Hall in early June...Cross your fingers for the Trevor Nunn-Susan Stroman London Oklahoma! to reach Broadway about a year from now. More certain--it's all but signed, sealed and delivered--is the Roundabout's revival of The Boys of Syracuse sometime during the 2001-2002 season. If these two shows come to pass, that would give Broadway a Rodgers show with Hammerstein and a Rodgers show with Hart...Of course, on top of all this, Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific was seen on ABC-TV last night, starring Glenn Close, Rade Sherbedgia, and Harry Connick, Jr. Wonder how it did in the ratings?
One of our better stage actors, Dylan Baker, has snagged a TV pilot. He'll run a television empire during the infancy of the medium (circa 1948) in The Big Time. It's the brainchild of John Wells, whose credits include ER and The West Wing. Baker recently did What the Butler Saw for The New Group and can be seen in the Pierce Brosnan-Geoffrey Rush big-screen thriller The Tailor of Panama, opening Friday....Also bound from theater to television is two-time Tony winner Donna Murphy. She has just finished filming the first 13 episodes of the new Joan Cusack series, What About Joan? Murphy plays the title character's best friend (a shrink, helpfully)....Playwright Christopher Durang, Sister Mary Ignatius' favorite pupil and scholar, recently took a vacation from writing and returned to acting to play Kristin Chenoweth's pastor in her new TV series; but now he is back on the write track. He's scripting one-third of a three-part anthology cable TV movie on marriage, co-authored by Beth Henley and Diana Son.
WHAT PRICE TELEVISION?
Speaking of Kristin Chenoweth: On the off-chance that you're keeping score of how many stage roles her yet-to-be-aired television series is costing her (Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Queenie in the MTC The Wild Party, Mabel Normand in Mack & Mabel, etc.), you can add to the list the part that made Clara Bow a star. The York Theatre Company practically had Kristin sewed up for The It Girl, a musical version of Bow's movie It, but the demands of promoting her series obliged her to bow out of the project. At last report, Jennifer Love Hewitt was being considered instead. Jerry Zaks, who has directed Kristin the series and Kristin the actress (in Epic Proportions), is serving as production consultant for The It Girl. Is that up or down from production supervisor, which he was for The Civil War? (Maybe he doesn't want to be reminded of that experience.) The peerless B T McNicholl will direct, do the lyrics, and co-write the book with Michael Small, and the music is by Paul McKibbins.
SITTING IN JUDGMENT