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Category: Denzel Washington

Gold rush for 'Red' at Tony Awards

June 14, 2010 |  9:00 am

Red Playbill "Red" -- the John Logan two-hander about abstract artist Mark Rothko and his assistant -- was the big winner at Sunday's Tony Awards, prevailing in six of its seven bids: best play, featured actor (Eddie Redmayne), director (Michael Grandage), lighting design (Neil Austin), scenic design (Christopher Oram) and sound design (Adam Cork). Logan picked up an Oscar nomination for his part in penning the original script for 2000 best picture champ "Gladiator" and was a nominee again in that same category four years later for "The Aviator."

The only race "Red" lost was best actor as Alfred Molina was edged out by two-time Oscar champ Denzel Washington ("Glory," "Training Day") who won his first Tony Award for the first rialto revival of "Fences." Washington prevailed in the part of Troy, a onetime baseball star turned sanitation worker who struggles to reconcile his past and present. When James Earl Jones originated this role in the 1987 production, he took home the second of his two Tonys.

The 1987 Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winner by August Wilson also won best revival of a play and a second Tony for Oscar nominee Viola Davis ("Doubt") as Troy's long-suffering wife, Rose. That part won Mary Alice the featured actress Tony for the original production but producers petitioned to boost Davis to the lead race. Davis won the featured actress Tony in 2001 for another Wilson work, "King Hedley II."

While Redmayne repeated his Olivier Award-winning performance when making his Broadway debut in "Red," Scarlett Johansson was new to the stage when she appeared in "A View From the Bridge." The four-time Golden Globe nominee won her first major awards hardware for her featured performance as a lovesick teenager in this third rialto remounting of the Arthur Miller classic. Among those she edged out was stage vet Jessica Hecht as her aunt.

Continue reading »

Denzel Washington and Viola Davis dish 'Fences' and August Wilson in the Tonys press room

June 14, 2010 |  6:59 am

Denzel Washington and Viola Davis spent some quality time with us journos in the press room at the Tony Awards, but, unfortunately, I could only grab a few minutes of their comments. A security goon ordered me to shut off my camera as soon as I started. That was absurd, because other media outlets were shooting video. I pressed a fight with the goon and a PR flack in the back of the room and, by the time I prevailed, Denzel and Viola were almost done talking. At least I caught a bit of what they said.

Last night at the Tonys, the security chaps were out of control. Several of them barked at me, ordered me to halt and not enter areas where I was cleared to enter, according to my press pass, which was in clear view, dangling from my neck. They were an army of bullies desperate to assert their authority despite not knowing the rules they were hired to enforce.

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Pundits split over close Tonys races: Denzel vs. Molina, CZJ vs. Montego

June 12, 2010 | 12:55 am

"Red" and "Memphis" are the front-runners to win best play and musical at the Tony Awards on June 13, according to the predictions of most pundits. However, the gurus are divided over some top races, including best drama actor: Denzel Washington ("Fences") versus Alfred Molina ("Red"). Also, best actress in a musical: Catherine Zeta-Jones ("A Little Night Music") versus Montego Glover ("Memphis").

Tony Awards predictions Tonys news-4

Below, the views of these Tonys prophets: Melissa Bernardo (Entertainment Weekly), Lane Brown (New York Magazine Vulture), Martin Denton (, Robert Diamond (Broadway World), Thom Geier (Entertainment Weekly), Susan Haskins (Theater Talk), Harry Haun (Playbill), Andy Humm (GayUSA, Gay City News),  Leonard Jacobs (Clyde Fitch Report), Brian Lipton (TheaterMania), Tom O'Neil (Gold Derby, The Envelope), Paul Sheehan (The Envelope), David Sheward (Back Stage), Matt Windman (amNY), Wayman Wong (New York Daily News).

"Red" — Bernardo, Brown, Denton, Diamond, Geier, Haskins, Haun, Humm, Jacobs, Lipton, O'Neil, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman, Wong

"American Idiot" — Jacobs
"Fela!" — Brown, Geier, Haskins, Humm
"Memphis" — Bernardo, Denton, Diamond, Haun, Lipton, O'Neil, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman, Wong

"Fences" — Bernardo, Brown, Denton, Diamond, Geier, Haskins, Haun, Humm, Jacobs, Lipton, O'Neil, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman, Wong

"La Cage Aux Folles" — Bernardo, Brown, Denton, Diamond, Geier, Haskins, Haun, Humm, Jacobs, Lipton, O'Neil, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman, Wong

Alfred Molina, "Red" — Bernardo, Brown, Denton, Diamond, Humm, Jacobs, Lipton
Denzel Washington, "Fences" — Geier, Haskins, Haun, O'Neil, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman, Wong

Viola Davis, "Fences" — Bernardo, Brown, Denton, Diamond, Geier, Haskins, Haun, Humm, Jacobs, Lipton, O'Neil, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman, Wong

Stephen McKinley Henderson, "Fences" — Berndardo, Haskins, Haun, Windman
Eddie Redmayne, "Red" — Brown, Denton, Diamond, Geier, Humm, Jacobs, Lipton, O'Neil, Sheehan, Sheward, Wong

Jan Maxwell, "Lend Me a Tenor" — Bernardo, Brown, Denton, Diamond, Geier, Haskins, Haun, Jacobs, O'Neil, Sheehan, Wong
Scarlett Johansson, "A View from the Bridge" —  Humm, Lipton, Sheward, Windman

Douglas Hodge, "La Cage Aux Folles" — Bernardo, Brown, Denton, Diamond, Geier, Haun, Humm, Jacobs, Lipton, O'Neil, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman, Wong
Sahr Ngaujah, "Fela!" — Haskins

Montego Glover, "Memphis" — Brown, Denton, Diamond, Geier, Sheward, Wong
Catherine Zeta-Jones, "A Little Night Music" — Bernardo, Haskins, Haun, Humm, Jacobs, Lipton, O'Neil, Sheehan, Windman

Robin de Jesus, "La Cage aux Folles" — Brown, Geier, O'Neil
Kevin Chamberlin, "The Addams Family" — Jacobs
Levi Kreis, "Million Dollar Quartet" — Bernardo, Denton, Diamond, Haskins, Haun, Humm, Lipton, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman, Wong

Katie Finneran, "Promises, Promises" — Bernardo, Brown, Denton, Diamond, Geier, Haskins, Haun, Humm, Jacobs, Lipton, O'Neil, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman, Wong

Continue reading »

Gold Derby nuggets: Bret Michaels to 'American Idol'? | Charlie Sheen to jail? | Green Day to Tony Awards

June 2, 2010 |  8:53 am

Bret Michaels American IdolBret Michaels appeared on the finale of "American Idol" last week and says he is in the running to replace Simon Cowell as a judge next season. The curmudgeonly Cowell even endorsed the idea that Michaels, who has battled back from a series of health crises, made mention of during a recent concert. Fox won't comment, but the Poison vocalist certainly has the music cred needed. That star-studded season closer is to be the Emmy submission for "Idol" this year. The songfest has lost the best reality-competition series race to "The Amazing Race" for the last seven years in a row. Among the other possible nominees in that category this year is "The Celebrity Apprentice," which Michaels won last month. Donald Trump is determined to avenge his Emmy losses for "The Apprentice" (2004, 2005) with a win this year for the third edition of the celebrity version of the show.

James Cameron has offered up his private fleet of submersible craft to help BP stop the flow of oil in the Gulf of Mexico. The Oscar champ was part of a group of deep-water experts who met with government officials in the nation's capital Tuesday. Cameron has been interested in oceanography since helming "The Abyss" in 1989. The creator of "Avatar" is also keen on space exploration. In January, he met with Charles Bolden, the head honcho of NASA, to persuade him to include a 3-D camera on Curiosity, a rover headed to Mars next year. PEOPLE

Patrick Stewart has been dubbed a knight of the British empire by Queen Elizabeth II. The respected British stage veteran, best known stateside for his work on TV ("Star Trek: The Next Generation") and film ("X-Men"), received the honor at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday. Said Stewart, "My heroes were Sir Laurence Olivier, Sir John Gielgud, and Sir Alec Guinness. Being in that company is the grandest thing that has professionally happened to me." AP

Charlie Sheen • "Two and a Half Men" star Charlie Sheen could well be behind bars when he finds out if he is an Emmy nominee on July 8. He has reaped a lead actor bid for each of the last four seasons of the CBS Monday night staple, but has yet to win. The actor is reportedly set to plead no contest next week to a misdemeanor charge stemming from a domestic dispute in Aspen, Colo., last Christmas. Reports are that Sheen is set to serve his 30-day sentence during this summer's hiatus for the show, which just wrapped Season 7. After initially vowing to bow out of the hit laffer, he just inked a deal for two more seasons for a reported seven-figure-per-episode payday. BBC

• To celebrate the silver anniversary of "Les Miserables" in the West End, producer Cameron Mackintosh is staging a massive concert version in the O2 Arena on Oct. 3. As Alistair Smith reports, this one-time event will boast "a company of more than 300 actors and musicians, including Alfie Boe as Jean Valjean, Nick Jonas (from the Jonas Brothers) as Marius, Norm Lewis as Javert, 'Little Britain' star Matt Lucas as Thenardier, Lea Salonga as Fantine, Jenny Galloway as Madame Thenardier, Camilla Kerslake as Cosette and the casts of the original production at the Queen’s Theatre, the new 25th anniversary production at the Barbican and members of the original 1985 London cast." THE STAGE

• Three-time Grammy champ Keith Urban will headline a July 23 benefit concert in Los Angeles for the charitable wing of the music academy. The evening, dubbed Starry Night, will fund the work of the foundation, which includes music programs for students as well as preservation efforts. Held in conjunction with the Farmers Classic tennis tourney, the event will also support tennis programs in Southern California. Said Urban in a statement, "I was so fortunate to have been exposed to music at such a young age. It touched my heart and opened up a world of adventure and possibilities beyond anything I’d ever known. Being a part of this concert, supporting the efforts of the Grammy Foundation and the Southern California Tennis Association Foundation, is something that I feel very strongly about, because I know firsthand what art, music and sport can do for our youth." GRAMMY AWARDS

Tony Awards logo • More details are emerging about the June 13 Tony Awards telecast on CBS. As is the custom, the four nominees for best musical -- "American Idiot," "Fela!," "Memphis" and "Million Dollar Quartet" -- will be showcased, as will the two nominees for best musical revival -- "La Cage aux Folles" and "A Little Night Music" -- that are still running. The Tonycast will also feature excerpts from all of the best play and play revival nominees. Previous attempts to present scenes from plays have fallen flat but the star wattage this year is high, including Tony nominees Denzel Washington and Viola Davis ("Fences") and Liev Schreiber and Scarlett Johansson ("A View From the Bridge"). The Tonycast is slated to open with a musical medley of popular songs featured in Broadway tuners and will include appearances by "Glee" stars Matthew Morrison and Lea Michele as well as "American Idiot" composers Green DayTONY AWARDS

• Veteran columnist Liz Smith is set to host the seventh annual Theater Hall of Fame luncheon on Thursday that is saluting nine-time Tony Award champ Tommy Tune. Celebrating Tune's golden anniversary in show biz at the Friars Club in Gotham will be fellow hall of famers Angela Lansbury, Frances Sternhagen, Estelle Parsons, Dana Ivey, Roger Berlind, Lois Smith and Charles Strouse. PLAYBILL

Upper photo: Bret Michaels on "American Idol." Credit: Fox

Middle photo: Charlie Sheen on "Two and a Half Men." Credit: CBS

Lower photo: Tony Awards logo. Credit: American Theater Wing

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Gold Derby nuggets: 'The Hobbit' hobbled by helmer's exit | Homer Simpson tops with EW | 'Curb' appeal

June 1, 2010 |  1:11 pm

The Hobbit • The status of "The Hobbit," the long-in-the-making two-part prequel to the hit trilogy "The Lord of the Rings," just became much cloudier with the news that helmer Guillermo del Toro ("Pan's Labryinth") has walked. The first of the films -- produced by Peter Jackson, who picked up three Oscars for the final installment of "LOTR" -- was slated to arrive in theaters in December 2012 with the second out a year later. In a statement, Del Toro said, "In light of ongoing delays in the setting of a start date for filming 'The Hobbit,' I am faced with the hardest decision of my life. After nearly two years of living, breathing and designing a world as rich as [J.R.R.] Tolkien's Middle Earth, I must, with great regret, take leave from helming these wonderful pictures." The much-in-demand Del Toro has decided to move on but harbors no ill will to the project. "Both as a co-writer and as a director, I wish the production nothing but the very best of luck and I will be first in line to see the finished product. I remain an ally to it and its makers, present and future, and fully support a smooth transition to a new director." REUTERS

Elizabeth Guider reports that HBO did great business selling foreign rights to the upcoming first season of "Boardwalk Empire" at the just-concluded LA screenings. This is the paycaster's marquee series for 2010 and could be a major awards player based on the pedigree of the behind-the-scenes talent alone. Oscar champ Martin Scorsese ("The Departed") is executive producing the series about bootleggers in 1920s Atlantic City and directed the first episode. Terence Winter -- who adapted Nelson Johnson's novel of the same name -- won two Emmys for scripting episodes of "The Sopranos" and another two when that HBO hit won best drama series in 2004 and 2007. THR

• The first rialto revival of "Fences" continues to break Broadway box-office records. Yet again, it topped the $1-million mark last week. This remounting of the 1987 Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner by August Wilson is up for 10 Tony Awards and is a front-runner in the best play revival race. The two stars -- two-time Oscar champ Denzel Washington ("Glory," "Training Day") and Oscar nominee Viola Davis ("Doubt") -- are strong contenders in their categories too. "Fences" is also nominated for best featured actor (Stephen McKinley Henderson), score (Brandford Marsalis), scenic design, costumes, sound design and lighting.

The Simpsons Entertainment WeeklyHomer Simpson edged out Harry Potter to top the Entertainment Weekly roundup of the 100 most memorable characters of the last two decades. "Simpsons" creator Matt Groening told the magazine that people relate to the tubby hubby "because we're all secretly propelled by desires we can't admit to." "The Simpsons" has won 25 Emmys over its first two decades: 10 for top animated program under one hour, 13 for voice-over (including four for "Homer" himself, Dan Castellaneta) and two for top song. The title role of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" as played by the perpetually Emmy-snubbed Sarah Michelle Gellar came in third, and Tony Soprano ("The Sopranos") -- which won James Gandolfini three Emmys -- was fourth. Comic-book arch-villain the Joker -- so brilliantly reimagined by the late Heath Ledger in "The Dark Knight" -- was fifth. ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

• As Greg Ellwood observes, "Last year, four of the best picture nominees were released in the summer: 'Up,' 'Inglourious Basterds,' 'District 9" and 'The Hurt Locker.' The 83rd Academy Awards probably won't match that total, but there are more summer players than usual for awards season overall. Just previewing the feature films, there are eight releases that should easily make some noise over the next three months." For Greg, among those upcoming releases that could make the top 10 at the Oscars are "Inception" and "The Kids Are All Right." HIT FIX

Mike Ausiello chats with "House" leading man Hugh Laurie, who reveals he has no idea how long he will keep playing the curmudgeonly character that has netted him four Emmy nominations but no wins. Whether the upcoming Season 7 will be the last for Laurie remains a question mark. He told Mike, "I only hope we’ll know when the time is right [to close up shop]. When people blunder on for five years after [they should have called it quits] … it gets taken out of your hands. Someone will say, "That’s it." But for now, I’m immensely proud of the things we did this season." The show has lost the drama series race for the last four consecutive years. ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

564_curb_your_enthusiasm_468 • Reruns of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" debut on the TV Guide network Tuesday, and though the basic-cable caster will edit the show for nudity and language, it is not cutting it for length. "Curb" ran 30 minutes or so on commercial-free HBO, so to round out the hour time slot, the net is programming "Curb: The Discussion." Hosted by "Curb" star Susie Essman and co-produced by the show's creator and star Larry David, the first panelists will be David's old pal Jerry Seinfeld, Emmy nominee Jon Hamm ("Mad Men") and Oscar nominee Taraji Henson ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"). The five-time Emmy contender for comedy series drew its best ratings for Season 7, which used a reunion of "Seinfeld" as a plot device for creator and star Larry David to repair his TV marriage. As for the future, David says, "Usually when a season ends, especially a season as successful as last season, it takes a while to recharge and come up with enough ideas so you know that you'll have a funny season. So it took some time, but I think we've got some good stuff coming up for Season 8." TV GUIDE

• Jerry Seinfeld is trying his hand at directing this month, helming Colin Quinn's one-man show, "Long Story Short." This showcase for the former "SNL" star begins a summer run off-Broadway on June 18. While "Curb Your Enthusiasm" has had lousy luck at the Emmys, winning just one of its 30 bids (best director for Robert B. Weide for the "Krazee-Eyez Killa" episode in 2003), "Seinfeld" snagged 10 laurels out of its 70 nominations, including best comedy series of 1993. PLAYBILL

Top photo: "The Hobbit" book cover. Credit: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Middle photo: Entertainment Weekly cover. Credit: EW.

Bottom photo: "Curb Your Enthusiasm" logo. Credit: HBO

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Tony Award nominee Kenny Leon on 'Fences' and working with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis

May 23, 2010 |  8:13 am

Most Tony Awards gurus believe August Wilson's "Fences" is a shoo-in to win best play revival, considering two factors. First, it has classic awards pedigree: The original 1987 production won the Tony for best play plus the Pulitzer Prize. Second, the current revival starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis is a box-office smash that's received the best critical reviews of the four nominees, which also include "Lend Me a Tenor," "The Royal Family" and "A View from the Bridge."

Fences Playbill

Actually, "Fences" is also the best-reviewed production among the four shows up for best director of a play too. Thus, "Fences" helmer Kenny Leon should, theoretically, win that Tony too —  except for one glitch. There's a longstanding curse in this category. Revivals seem like old news when stacked up against hot new shows in the same category. Voters tend to prefer what's new.

During the last 10 years, only once did the helmer of a play revival win best director. In 2004, Jack O'Brien ("Henry IV") beat Moises Kaufman ("I Am My Own Wife," which won best play). That exception probably occurred because "I Am My Own Wife" was a simple production more renowned for the provocative performance of Jefferson Mays than its stagecraft.

But the two new plays nominated for best director aren't known for their stagecraft either: "Red," helmed by Michael Grandage, and "Next Fall," helmed by Sheryl Kaller. And Leon has a high Cool Factor and major mojo. This is his fourth Broadway production. His first was the hit production of "Raisin in the Sun," notoriously starring P. Diddy. The other two were the last two original plays staged on Broadway by Wilson ("Gem of the Ocean," "Radio Golf"). Leon is widely considered to be the modern-day champion of the late playwright who was so beloved by Tony voters. (Nine of Wilson's works were nominated for best play.)

This is Leon's first Tony nomination. In addition to best play revival and director, "Fences" is also nominated for best actor (Washington), actress (Davis), featured actor (Stephen McKinley Henderson), score (Brandford Marsalis), scenic design, costumes, sound design and lighting.

Video by Paul Sheehan

Photo credit: Playbill

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Gold Derby nuggets: TCM tribute to Lena Horne | 'Fences' ropes them in | Cherry Jones back to Broadway after '24'

May 10, 2010 |  3:59 pm

Lena Horne Cabin in the SkyLisa Horowitz delivers the news that TCM has scheduled a tribute to the late Lena Horne for May 21. "The lineup features three films with defining Horne performances, as well as one of the groundbreaking singer-actress' personal favorites, the 1943 John Garfield drama 'The Fallen Sparrow.' At 8 p.m. ET, TCM will show 'The Duke Is Top' (1938), Horne’s film debut, featuring performances of the songs 'I Know You Remember' and 'Don't Let Our Love Song Turn Into a Blues.' That's followed at 9:30 p.m. by Horne's favorite among her films, the 1943 'Cabin in the Sky,' co-starring Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson and Ethel Waters. 'Panama Hattie' airs at 11:15 p.m. The 1942 film is an example of the type of role Horne frequently was forced to play." In a statement, our pal TCM host Robert Osborne said, "There was never anyone quite like Lena Horne as an entertainer, a presence or a trail-blazer. We’ve been shortchanged only by the limited number of worthwhile roles she was given to play in movies. But she certainly gave us 100 percent of her remarkable talent in those she did make." THE WRAP

• "Memphis" -- one of the leading contenders for the Tony Award for best musical -- has a fan in Justin Timberlake. As per this report, Timberlake took in a performance of the tuner last week and was "heard telling the show's music writer, Bon Jovi keyboard player David Bryan, that he's interested in turning the show into a movie." And it seems that while Timberlake was in town, he taped a spot for the season finale of "SNL" this weekend. PAGE SIX

• Add "La Cage aux Folles" to the growing list of current Tony Award nominees to announce a national tour. With road producers making up a sizable portion of the voting bloc for this top theater honor, it is a savvy move to let them know that they can program a Tony contender into their houses. This second rialto restaging of 1984's top tuner is nominated for 11 Tonys, including best musical revival.

Fences Denzel Washington Viola Davis • The smash-hit revival of "Fences" won't be touring, at least not with its Tony-nominated stars two-time Oscar champ Denzel Washington ("Glory," "Training Day") and Oscar nominee Viola Davis ("Doubt"). This rialto remounting of the 1987 Tony and Pulitzer prize winner by August Wilson is packing them in and just set a new house record for the Cort Theatre topping the $1-million mark. And, as Patrick Healy notes, "the previous Cort record-holder was its last tenant, the revival of Arthur Miller’s 'A View from the Bridge,' with a gross of $988,455 earned during the last week of performances before closing in early April." That play is also in the running for best play revival at the upcoming Tony Awards. ARTS BEAT

Julie Miller presents the highlights from Conan O'Brien's 48-minute conversation with Google’s veep of engineering Vic Gundotra that is being showcased on YouTube. Among the must-see moments are "Conan’s impression of Leno (begins at 22:04), Conan’s hairy foreplay with a Google employee (begins at 23:24), and Andy Richter’s guest appearance (begins at 29:00)."  MOVIELINE

Michael Ausiello chats with "Big Bang Theory" star Jim Parsons about, among other subjects, "the real story behind Sheldon’s season-ending 'romance' with Blossom (a.k.a. Mayim Bialik)." And, says the sassy Michael, the Emmy nominee also "opened up about the joys of working with a cast that is clean, sober, and so not insane." ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

• "Yank" -- the off-Broadway tuner that recently announced a transfer to the rialto in the upcoming season -- has yanked original helmer Igor Goldin from the project. Replacing him is David Cromer, a recent winner at the Lucille Lortel awards celebrating the best of off-Broadway for his direction of "When the Rain Stops Falling." The musical, about two WWII G.I.s who fall in love, was a hit for the York Theater this year. ARTS BEAT

Cherry Jones Tony Awards 24 • Roundabout Theater is reuniting two-time Tony champ Cherry Jones with Doug Hughes who directed her to the second of those wins for "Doubt" back in 2005. The actress -- who was replaced in the 2008 movie version of "Doubt" by Meryl Streep -- will headline a revival of George Bernard Shaw's "Mrs. Warren's Profession" at one of the Roundabout's Broadway houses. While this Shavian classic has played five times on Broadway, only one of those productions -- at Lincoln Center in 1976 -- was since the inception of the Tonys in 1947. Oscar champ Ruth Gordon ("Rosemary's Baby") played the title character -- a high-class madam -- while Lynn Redgrave earned the first of her three Tony noms as the daughter repulsed by her mother's chosen profession. Jones -- whose first Tony win was back in 1995 for "The Heiress" -- has just wrapped production on her second and final season on "24" in the Emmy-winning role of President Allison Taylor.

• And to celebrate the centennial of the birth of Tennessee Williams, Roundabout Theater has scheduled Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis ("Moonstruck") to appear in a revival of his ill-fated 1963 play "The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore" at the non-profit's off-Broadway home in 2011.

Top photo: Ethel Waters, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson and Lena Horne in "Cabin in the Sky." Credit: MGM

Middle photo: "Fences" playbill. Credit: Cort Theatre

Bottom photo: Cherry Jones at the 2005 Tony Awards. Credit: CBS

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Experts predict Tony Award nominations

April 29, 2010 |  9:57 am

There's a lot of drama surrounding the Tony Award nominations, which will be unveiled Tuesday. Take, for example, the battle over best musical. The pundits cited below are split over eight contenders to take those four category slots. "American Idiot" is the favorite to win, but an upset is possible. The biggest drama of all is over best drama — there's no clear front-runner.

We've recruited predix from a team of savvy prognosticators: Melissa Bernardo (Entertainment Weekly), Martin Denton (NYTheatre), Thom Geier (Entertainment Weekly), Andy Humm (Gay City News, Gay USA), Kenneth Jones (, Brian Lipton (Theater Mania), Patrick Pacheco (L.A. Times, NY1), Paul Sheehan (, David Sheward (Back Stage), Matt Windman (amNY) and me.

American Idiot Broadway Tonys Tony Awards nominations news 2

"A Behanding in Spokane" — Geier, Humm
"Enron" — Bernardo, Denton, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward
"In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play" — Humm, Windman
"Next Fall" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
"Race" — Denton, Jones, O'Neil, Sheward
"Red" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Humm, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
"Time Stands Still" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Humm, Jones, Lipton, Pacheco, Sheehan, Windman

"The Addams Family" — Jones, Sheward
"American Idiot" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Humm, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
"Come Fly Away" — Bernardo, Geier, Windman
"Everyday Rapture" — Lipton, Pacheco
"Fela!" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Humm, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
"Memphis" — Denton, Geier, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
"Million Dollar Quartet" — Bernardo, Denton, Humm, Sheehan
"Sondheim on Sondheim" — O'Neil, Humm

"A View from the Bridge" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Humm, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
"Collected Stories" -- Humm
"Fences" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Humm, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
"Hamlet" — Bernardo, Humm
"Lend Me a Tenor" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
"The Royal Family" — Denton, Geier, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman

"A Little Night Music" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Humm, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
"Finian’s Rainbow" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Humm, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
"La Cage Aux Folles" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier,Humm,  Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
"Ragtime" — Bernardo, Humm
"Promises, Promises" — Denton, Geier, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman

John Gallagher Jr., "American Idiot" — Denton, Geier, Humm, Jones, O'Neil, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
Kelsey Grammer, "La Cage aux Folles" — Denton, Jones
Sean Hayes, "Promises, Promises" — Bernardo, Geier, Lipton, Pacheco, Sheehan, Windman
Douglas Hodge, "La Cage Aux Folles" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Humm, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
Chad Kimball, "Memphis" — Bernardo, Humm, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
Nathan Lane, "The Addams Family" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Humm, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheward
Sahr Nguajah, "Fela!" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Humm, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman

Kate Baldwin, "Finian’s Rainbow" — Denton, Geier, Humm, Jones, Lipton, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
Kristin Chenoweth, "Promises, Promises" — Bernardo, Humm, O'Neil
Montego Glover, "Memphis" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Humm, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
Bebe Neuwirth, "The Addams Family" — Geier, Humm, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheward, Windman
Christine Noll, "Ragtime" -- Bernardo, Denton
Sherie Rene Scott, "Everyday Rapture" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
Catherine Zeta-Jones, "A Little Night Music" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Humm, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman

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Can Denzel Washington climb 'Fences' to Tony Awards?

April 27, 2010 | 10:05 am

Denzel Washington Fences "Fences" -- the 1987 Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winner by August Wilson -- opened Monday to rave reviews for its first rialto revival. Two-time Oscar champ Denzel Washington was praised for his performance as Troy, a one-time baseball star turned sanitation worker who struggles to reconcile his past and present. Critics drew favorable comparisons with James Earl Jones, who originated this role for which he won the second of his two Tonys.

Also earning plaudits was Oscar nominee Viola Davis ("Doubt") as the long-suffering wife Rose. That part won Mary Alice the featured actress Tony for the original production. On Monday, the Outer Critics Circle nominated Davis in the lead category; whether the Tony Awards will consider her as such will be determined by the administration committee on April 30. The nominating committee meets on May 3, with their decisions announced the following morning.

Washington -- who is also in the running with the OCC -- is likely to land his first Tony Award nomination. Five years ago, he was snubbed for his Shakespearean performance as Marcus Brutus in "Julius Caesar." While that production was a runaway hit, critical opinion was mixed and it was not an awards contender. However, Washington has always endeared himself to the close-knit theater community with his no-nonsense attitude.

"Fences" is also likely to contend in the play revival race at the Tony Awards. Other possible nominees include "A View From the Bridge," a 1956 domestic drama by three-time Tony champ Arthur Miller; the Ken Ludwig farce "Lend Me A Tenor" which was a 1989 play nominee (losing to "The Heidi Chronicles"); and the 1927 George S. Kaufman-Edna Ferber comedy "The Royal Family." And while Washington did not slay critics in "Julius Caesar," Jude Law won them over this season in "Hamlet" and both he and that production could compete.

From "Fences," featured actors Chris Chalk -- as Corey, the son of Troy and Rose -- and Mykelti Williamson -- as Troy's brother Gabriel -- could be nominated, as were the roles' originators Courtney B. Vance and Frankie R. Faison. They both lost in 1987 to theater veteran John Randolph for "Broadway Bound."

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10 closest Oscar races in the past 20 years

November 22, 2009 |  4:36 pm

One of the shrewdest Oscarologists on the planet is Tariq Khan of Fox News, who often generously shares his views of current and past derbies with Gold Derby readers. Here he takes a nostalgic look  at the past two decades, offering his take on the most competitive derbies. Words below are Tariq's. Thanks, m'friend!

We’ve often discussed those Oscar races that seem just too close to call . . . where it’s clear (or at least seems clear) that the eventual winner will nab the Oscar with only a few more votes than his or her nearest competitor.

While we can never really know for sure (unless we get one of those top jobs at the accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers,) we do have some idea of what may have been the closest races in Oscar history. Allow me to present what I believe were the 10 closest acting races over the course of the past 20 years.

Oscars close races Academy Awards movie news

1) Jim Broadbent in “Iris” over Ian McKellen in “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” for best supporting actor of 2001: It seemed like McKellen had it in the bag. He was the only acting nominee of the 13 nods for “Rings,” he had payback votes from those academy members who felt that he should have won best actor of 1998 for “Gods and Monsters,” and he had claimed the SAG Award just a few weeks before the Oscar ceremony. Yet somehow he was edged out by Broadbent in the indie film “Iris.” There’s no doubt that Broadbent’s showy turn in “Moulin Rouge!” and sympathetic role in “Bridget Jones’s Diary” – both released in 2001 – helped to secure his upset victory. McKellen is probably still smarting from the loss, though he should take comfort knowing that the race was a squeaker.

2) Juliette Binoche in “The English Patient” over Lauren Bacall in “The Mirror Has Two Faces” for best supporting actress of 1996: I knew that Golden Globe and SAG winner (not to mention sentimental favorite) Bacall was vulnerable. She had a small part in a comedy that  was overlooked by the academy in every other major category. Plus she didn’t have a reputation for being the nicest person in show business. I nonetheless predicted her to win, believing that the opposition votes would go into too many directions (namely Barbara Hershey in “The Portrait of a Lady” and Marianne Jean-Baptiste in “Secrets and Lies”) for an upset to occur. Silly me. The academy love for “Patient” spilled over into the supporting actress race, carrying Binoche to a shocking victory. I still that think that Bacall registered lots of votes, and that Binoche just barely sneaked past her.

3) Russell Crowe in “Gladiator” over Ed Harris in “Pollock” for best actor of 2000: After buzz for Tom Hanks in “Cast Away” died down, the contest quickly turned toward Crowe and Harris. Crowe had just lost for “The Insider” and had the advantage of being in a best picture nominee (and eventual winner) – while Harris was a beloved veteran playing a real-life person who suffered endlessly on screen. I eventually settled on Harris, thinking that Hollywood would prefer to see him win – and thought I had nailed it when his co-star Marcia Gay Harden took the supporting actress prize. Sure, I was left eating crow on Oscar night – but I’m certain that Harris lost only by a hair.

4) Marisa Tomei in “My Cousin Vinny” over Judy Davis in “Husbands and Wives” for best supporting actress of 1992: The only question bigger than “how many votes did Tomei win by?” may actually be “who came in second?” – my guess being the sensational Davis as a neurotic New Yorker in Woody Allen’s fascinating comedy-drama. Davis had a strong performance in a semi-leading role, the Los Angeles Film Critics Award, and credentials that included a best actress nomination for the prestigious “A Passage to India” eight years earlier. Critics Roger Ebert and the late Gene Siskel both named Davis as their choice for the award, pointing to the rare and refreshing intelligence of her character in the film. With the British vote being split amongst fellow nominees Joan Plowright in “Enchanted April,” Vanessa Redgrave in “Howard’s End” and Miranda Richardson in “Damage,” it seemed that the Australian Davis would surely prevail. In the end, the whole Woody Allen-Mia Farrow-Soon-Yi Previn scandal probably tainted the film – and Davis’ Oscar chances. But Tomei couldn’t have won by too much.

5) Nicole Kidman in “The Hours” over Renee Zellweger in “Chicago” for best actress of 2002: While everyone seemed to think that Kidman was ahead in the derby because she was physically unrecognizable and had just come off a stinging loss for “Moulin Rouge,” I sensed that there were real drawbacks to her candidacy for best actress. She had minimal screen time for a lead Oscar (less than co-stars Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore). She had only one strong dramatic scene (and a relatively short one at that). And she had Zellweger and the “Chicago” steamroller heading straight toward her. Zellweger even edged out Kidman at the SAG Awards, suggesting a similar fate at the Oscars. When Denzel Washington finally opened the envelope he pronounced Kidman the winner “by a nose” – and he couldn’t have been more correct. 

6) Kim Basinger in “L.A. Confidential” over Gloria Stuart in “Titanic” for best supporting actress of 1997: Most Oscar pundits projected a win for Stuart for her spellbinding performance in “Titanic,” even though the film wasn’t really about acting. The chance to see the charming octogenarian take to the stage was seemingly irresistible. Here’s where the “Titanic” juggernaut actually worked AGAINST the film. Since academy members seemed to be voting for it almost everywhere on the ballot, the supporting actress race was one of the few places where they could throw a bone to the highly touted “Confidential.” Basinger and Stuart actually tied at the SAG Awards – I dare say that the same thing almost happened at the Oscars. (How nice that would have been.) 

7) Kevin Spacey in “American Beauty” over Denzel Washington in “The Hurricane” for best actor of 1999: Washington was the early favorite for his meaty role in “Hurricane,” and the previous supporting actor winner for “Glory” seemed due for a lead statuette. Then controversy hurt his film, leaving him with its sole nomination. As momentum for “Beauty” continued to grow, so did support for Spacey – who emerged victorious on SAG night. The two thesps appeared to be deadlocked, with pundits equally divided over the race’s outcome. The controversial Wall Street Journal poll – which correctly forecast every other race – showed Washington ahead with just the slightest lead. While the Journal was ultimately wrong on the outcome here, it was surely right on just how tight this race was. 

8) Kathy Bates in “Misery” over Anjelica Huston in “The Grifters” for best actress of 1990: In an exciting four-way race that included Joanne Woodward in “Mr. and Mrs. Bridge” and breakout star of the year Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman,” it was surely misery for voters to select one name. While no one seemed certain, Huston was considered the safest bet. She was Hollywood royalty playing a tough-as-nails con woman, and “The Grifters” was nominated in other key categoriesto like director and screenplay. On Oscar night Bates was the unexpected winner, probably because of a split vote between Huston and Woodward. Forget about Jimmy Caan’s ankles. The scariest part of “Misery” is how close Bates came to not winning the Oscar. 

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Lover could bestow the gift of Oscars gold to Penelope Cruz?

December 22, 2008 |  9:43 am

Oh, who'd want a mere gold ring if you could receive a whole big chunk of academy gold from your lover instead?

Just got an e-mail from our forums moderator Chris "Boomer" Beachum, who notes "an interesting side note to this year's Oscar ceremony."


"If Penelope Cruz wins the supporting actress Oscar for 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona," guess who presents it to her?" he says. "Her current boyfriend, Javier Bardem."

True. Traditionally, the acting awards are presented by last year's recipient of the opposite gender. Last year Bardem won best supporting actor for "No Country for Old Men."

"Even if her name isn't in the envelope, that certainly makes for an even more tense situation for him to present to another lady," Chris adds. To which I add this: What if Penelope's name is in the envelope and they're no longer dating? Awkward!

The last time someone presented an Oscar to a lover, as far as we know anyway, was William Hurt ("Kiss of the Spider Woman," best actor, 1985) bestowing the best actress award of 1986 to Marlee Marlin ("Children of a Lesser God"). They broke up soon afterward.

"There have been some 'really good friends' situations, like Anthony Hopkins presenting to Emma Thompson, Julia Roberts to Denzel Washington, and Sean Connery to Catherine Zeta-Jones," Chris adds, wryly.

What's the best Oscars strategy for Heath Ledger in 'The Dark Knight'?

July 19, 2008 |  4:53 pm

OK, now that legions of moviegoers are shrieking "Oscar! Oscar! Oscar!" after seeing Heath Ledger in "The Dark Knight," which category should he enter: lead or supporting?

That's a tricky Oscar question. On one hand you might think Heath Ledger should go supporting because, technically speaking, "The Dark Knight" is a film about Batman. But come on, Heath Ledger has the big, flashy role — he's the chief force bearing down on all of the terrifying action — and it's his spooktacular performance that moviegoers are storming theaters to see.


A good analogy might be Forest Whitaker, who recently won best actor in "Last King of Scotland." James McAvoy actually had the main role, as measured by the most dialogue and screen time, but his performance as a good doctor was dwarfed, crushed and left trembling in the shadow of his monstrous patient.

The same was true for Denzel Washington, who won best actor for "Training Day." He had less screen time than costar Ethan Hawke, but Hawke was so overwhelmed by Washington's performance as a ferocious, corrupt cop that he dutifully ducked into the supporting race and let Washington go lead.

Sometimes it's the size of the role, emotionally speaking, that determines whether it should be defined as lead or supporting. Sure, Anthony Hopkins only appeared in 22 minutes of "The Silence of the Lambs," but he won best actor because he gobbled up the scenery, the screen and everything else as Hannibal the Cannibal. Academy members didn't dare to deny him an Oscar statuette for dessert.

Heath Ledger's role in "The Dark Knight" is very similar to Hopkins' in "Lambs," come to think of it — so creepy that it continues to haunt moviegoers long after they flee theaters, terrified.

However, in terms of traditional category placement, Heath Ledger may have the best shot to win in supporting. When Jack Nicholson played the Joker in "Batman" in 1989, he was nominated in supporting at the Golden Globes (then was snubbed by Oscar voters, strangely).

And traditionally, that's where the cartoonishly crazy roles are put — Ben Kingsley in "Sexy Beast," James Coburn in "Affliction." And speaking of Coburn, that reminds us of another aspect of the supporting race that may apply to Heath Ledger: If he wins an Oscar in February for "The Dark Knight," it will largely be because Academy voters want to salute an impressive, if brief, career that included a past Oscar nomination ("Brokeback Mountain").

That qualifies Ledger as a perfect candidate for a veteran achievement award, which is the unofficial nickname of the supporting-actor category when it goes to the likes of Alan Arkin in "Little Miss Sunshine," Martin Landau in "Ed Wood" or Jack Palance in "City Slickers."

But, wait! Maybe it doesn't matter what category Heath Ledger lands in, since some Oscarologists believe he's doomed at the Academy Awards where only one star has ever won from the grave — READ MORE - CLICK HERE!

Photo: Warner Bros.



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