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Azaria, Simpson star in ‘Farnsworth’

Duo set for Sorkin's Broadway endeavor

Hank Azaria and Jimmi Simpson will topline the Broadway production of Aaron Sorkin’s “The Farnsworth Invention,” the first Rialto outing for Sorkin since he made his name as a TV auteur. Production, helmed by Des McAnuff (“Jersey Boys”), begins previews at the Music Box Theater in October.

Play preemed at San Diego’s La Jolla Playhouse in a spring workshop production, also directed by McAnuff. Simpson, who appeared in the workshop, reprises the title role in the Broadway incarnation.

Plot follows the true story of Philo T. Farnsworth (Simpson), the inventor of television, in his legal battle over the patent with the head of RCA, David Sarnoff (Azaria, taking over a role played by Stephen Lang in San Diego).

Azaria was nommed for a 2005 Tony for his Broadway debut in “Monty Python’s Spamalot.” Stage credits for Simpson include McAnuff’s production of “Tartuffe” at La Jolla and the Roundabout revival of “The Rainmaker.”

“Farnsworth” is the first Rialto outing for Sorkin since “A Few Good Men” in 1989. Production also marks the first Broadway foray for Steven Spielberg, a limited producing partner (as an individual, not affiliated with any studio) with lead producer Dodger Properties on the show. Also co-producing are Dan Cap Prods., Fred Zollo, Latitude Link and the Pelican Group.

The workshop production of “Farnsworth” had a cast of 19. Besides the Broadway leads, the other roles have yet to be cast.

“Farnsworth” begins previews Oct. 15 for a Nov. 14 opening at the Music Box. Current tenant at the Music Box, “Deuce,” is skedded to end its limited run on Aug. 19.

After “Farnsworth,” Sorkin and McAnuff may team up again, having both expressed interest in collaborating on a book musical based on the Flaming Lips album “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.”

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