Sirius preps radio plays

Sat radio partners with pic-makers for plays

NEW YORK — Sirius Satellite Radio is looking to tap the appeal of radio’s golden age, partnering with filmmakers the Coen brothers and Charlie Kaufman to broadcast two new audio plays.

The plays, Joel and Ethan Coen’s “Sawbones” and Kaufman’s “Hope Leaves the Theater,” will be set to music by composer Carter Burwell and recorded for later broadcast on Sirius.

The works will be performed live by Steve Buscemi, Hope Davis, Peter Dinklage, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Brooke Smith and Meryl Streep.

They will be accompanied by the eight-piece Parabola Ensemble with sound effects by foley artist Marko Costanzo.

Overall event, called Theater of the New Ear, will run for three nights at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Gotham and then at London’s Royal Festival Hall at South Bank Center.

It’s the first time the Coen brothers and scripter Kaufman, who won an Academy Award for “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” will bring their offbeat sensibilities to the stage professionally.

The radio plays — or “sound shows,” as Sirius calls them — mark a new direction for the satcaster, which hopes to seed interest in the medium in Hollywood and the theater communities and differentiate itself from free “terrestrial” radio.

Sirius is looking to the performances to test the concept of future audio plays and other dramatic performances on radio. Before television truly became a mass medium, Lux Radio Theater adapted popular films to radio such as “Casablanca” and “A Star Is Born.”

“You haven’t heard these for years, yet the nation was once entranced by shows like ‘The Shadow,’ ” said Sirius spokesman Patrick Reilly. “These will be more artsy — but the Coen brothers know how to create pop entertainment that’s quirky.”

Sirius expects to air the plays on its “Broadway’s Best” channel, as well as others.

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