Langella looks good for Tony win

'Frost/Nixon' star is the toast of Broadway

HAD A grand evening at the dinner party given for Frank Langella, celebrating his “Frost/Nixon” triumph on Broadway. Barbara Cook even sang for us. Everyone is predicting a win on Tony night, but, of course, Langella demurred, paying tribute to his “formidable competition.” This caused one guest to point at the Sunday New York Times picture of the nominees: “You know, Frank, this guy next to you; he looks like your butler, the one on the end is your gardener. The tough guy at left is your bodyguard, the man next resembles your driver. You’re obviously in charge.” The actor in Langella may have preened just slightly but I couldn’t really tell. He did say, “Oh, that photo — we didn’t really pose. We got together and they took it in about 20 seconds.” Well, we shall see what we shall see Sunday night on CBS. Watch the Tonys; you can record the last episode of “The Sopranos” on HBO.

WHEN THEY handed the Oscar-winning Shirley Jones the coveted Richard Rodgers Award for Excellence in Musical Theater in Pittsburgh last weekend, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Mary Rodgers Gittel did the presentation and told how her famous father met the 18-year-old Shirley 52 years ago and the future star innocently asked, “Who is he?” Jones joins an illustrious group of luminaries who have won this award — Mary Martin, Julie Andrews, Hal Prince, Cameron Mackintosh, Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Gwen Verdon and Bernadette Peters. Shirley is staying in Pittsburgh to appear again in “Oklahoma!” the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical that ignited her onstage career. (She later made the movie version.) This time around she’ll play Aunt Eller from June 19 to July1 at the Benedum Center. She says, “To be able to return to the stage anywhere 52 years later and do anything would be an accomplishment, I suppose. But with this singular honor and then to re-create yet another Rodgers and Hammerstein role — well, my heart is full.”

HOW ABOUT a night in which Wynton Marsalis and his jazz band play for select VIPs in a lush penthouse overlooking Manhattan? That was the Ann Tenenbaum and Tom Lee evening benefiting Jazz at Lincoln Center. Sitting near me throughout the incomparable music was Don Cheadle. A night to remember from the generosity of Tom and Ann plus being a big score for jazz, jazz, jazz under the influence of Kathy Brown and Lisa Schiff, those JALC movers and shakers. … Duran Duran is in London, finishing up a new album that promises to be a return to the dance floor. Producers on the Epic Records disc include Justin Timberlake, Timbaland and Danjahands. The band will come to New York on June 17 for a one-night only performance at Hammerstein Ballroom.

(Email Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com)

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