Andrews returns to stage for ‘Friend’

GOOD MORNING: “I’m going places I never thought I’d go,” Julie Andrews says as she prepares to return to the stage — as a director. The play is “The Boy Friend,” which brought her, at the age of 19, to B’way from London. “It was the turning point in my career,” Julie admits. And now at 67, she will direct the musical comedy at the Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, N.Y., bowing Aug. 5 and, she hopes, making its way back to B’way. The entire production is sponsored by Target Stores. The theater is owned by daughter Emma Walton and her husband Steve Hamilton and Sybil Burton Christopher. And Julie is a member of the theater’s board of trustees. She admits, “I’m awed” at the thought of directing, adding, “but I’m in friendly hands — it’s a big family thing.” She just wound a 15-city, 17-day tour of “A Royal Christmas” with Christopher Plummer, Charlotte Church, London’s Royal Philharmonic Orch, the Westminster Concert Choir and the Westminster Bell Choir. She sandwiched in that tour (with a company of 250) while also filming, back-to-back, “Eloise at the Plaza,” to air in May, and “Eloise at Christmas” for ABC’s “Wonderful World of Disney” with 10-year-old Sofia Vassilieva. She says Disney wants to continue the franchise with “Eloise in France.” Disney also wants Julie to produce “The Secret Diaries of Great Aunt Clara” set in Northern California — with her option to star as well. DreamWorks wants her to do “Shrek II” in which she’d voice the role of the Princess’ Queen Mother. “This is all new for me,” she says modestly. She also has a tentative October start for Disney’s “Princess Diaries II” with Garry Marshall again directing, this time possibly in Prague . . . On Feb. 5, Julie and Carol Burnett will be honored by the Museum of TV and Radio with a gala at the Waldorf. And on July 3 in London Julie will christen the Crystal cruise ship Serenity . . . In addition, Andrews and daughter Emma are collaborating on four books to be released in fall; in September Julie launches her imprint with Harper Collins . . . Her conversational voice is good. But, she admits, “I really do miss singing.” She continues to channel her efforts on research for those whose voices have been stricken — like cancer patients and premature babies who spent the early periods of their lives with tubes down their throats.

PAUL NEWMAN WINDS HIS LAST STAND on B’way, “Our Town,” on his birthday, Jan. 26, and on the 28th they start taping the production for Showtime and Masterpiece Theater — “so it can also be shown on its educational outreach program,” he tells me. Newman says, “It’s not easy, but I didn’t want to croak without doing it.” And yes, it is his last outing on B’way. But not his last acting job. He is co-producing “Empire Falls,” Richard Russo’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel in which he’ll play “a degenerate.” He wanted to do it as a three-hour movie for HBO rather than as a bigscreen feature . . . Newman was saddened by the death of his “Road to Perdition” cinematographer Conrad Hall with whom he worked on five films. “He was one of the great guys.” And he admits Hall made the difficult seem easy. What about the lengthy finale in the pouring rain with Tom Hanks? “Nah, they’re all easy,” the unassuming Newman claimed. For that drenching scene, Newman used a trick taught him years ago by stunt men — he wore a garbage bag under his suit. While also downplaying his efforts for stricken children, I learned from Newman about his plans for seven Hole in the Wall Gang camps in Botswana, and “in a couple of years,” camps for Israeli and Palestinian children in the Dead Sea area — for 2,500 kids per year. The Painted Turtle camp in So. Cal. breaks ground in spring. And auto racing’s Petty family is backing a camp to be built in North Carolina. Newman’s racing team (Newman/Haas) won their fourth CART season championship — with the rear wings of their cars emblazoned — “Road to Perdition.” I asked Newman if he personally planned to race again this year. He answered: “My next race and my divorce will occur on the same day.” When I asked what’s the next product to come from the Newman’s Own label, he answered, “Voting machines for Florida.” Big laugh.

RAY LIOTTA FILMED A CAMEO for the feature “Anger Management” starring Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson. Liotta tells me he was called in for an added scene in which he plays the father to Sandler — at age 11. “To make you understand Adam’s character better,” he explained. “It’s comedic.” Referring to his Saturday hostint of “SNL,” Liotta admitted to me “If I can play Frank Sinatra (in HBO’s ‘The Rat Pack’), I can do ‘Saturday Night Live’.” He’s now enjoying applause for “Narc,” in which he stars and also produced with wife Michelle Grace. Liotta tells me they have plans to produce more pix together, “But we learned from ‘Narc,’ not to start anything until the money is in escrow.” Among projects perking are a comedy, “Friends Again,” and a love story, “Slow Burn.”

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Voices News from Variety