Well, what an experience to go to the theater in the middle of the U.S. financial meltdown and a pre-election where people are calling names, telling lies and slandering one another. At the American Airlines Theater we encounter a true moral moment even if only onstage. I do mean the revival of Robert Bolt’s morally challenging Tony-winning play of 1962 which involves that perennial historical dilemma — could Henry VIII set aside a Catholic queen to marry Anne Boleyn? I had the pleasure of seeing England’s great Paul Scofield do this stunning 16th century drama of Sir Thomas More and his travails of conscience. This week I had the pleasure all over again when one of America’s greatest actors, Frank Langella offers a new version, brilliantly directed by Doug Hughes.
The opening night crowd was fascinating, very top drawer — Sid and Mercedes Bass, Jayne Wrightsman, Barbara Walters, Elaine Stritch, Chita Rivera, Stockard Channing, Cady Huffman, Julie White, Barbara Cook, Cynthia Nixon, Chris Noth, Jill Clayburgh, Jessye Norman, Jim Dale, Brian Grazer, Gay and Nan Talese.
Onstage, Langella towers in the role of a man torn between his religious conscience and his love and respect for his King. He follows his heart and soul to his doom. Playwright Bolt is reminding us once again what happens when people are imprisoned without trial and examined under torture. Langella’s Sir Thomas More is imposing, human, humorous, tragic, gallant and best of all — overwhelming when he translates More’s predicament with the King into a legal defense. I had forgotten that More was not only a churchman and an intellectual but versed in the intricacies of the law. It does him no good, of course.
I had recently seen bits of Frank Langella’s screen portrayal in the coming film, “Frost/Nixon.” Langella is such a feeling and thoughtful actor. I believe he could do anything, except maybe play Tiny Tim.
The life story of Dodgers’ manager Tommy Lasorda is reported on the “fast track for development” at Miramax. Al Pacino has “expressed interest” in playing the famously irascible Lasorda with Michelle Pfeiffer a “possibility” as his wife. Translation–don’t dress for the premiere. There’s many a slip twixt the “fast track” and the first day of shooting. Still and all, for the life of me I can’t imagine Al Pacino on a baseball field. But, that’s why they call it acting!
OSCAR’S LITTLE darling is Kate Winslet who is still the youngest person ever to be nominated — and without a win — five times! (She was the first actor ever to be nominated four times before she was 30 years old.) This fall she’ll have two movies in contention. She stars in “Revolutionary Road,” produced and directed by her husband Sam Mendes and based on the acclaimed but little-known novel by Richard Yates. (This Dec. 26 movie reunites Kate with her “Titanic” co-star Leonardo Di Caprio after 11 years. It asks the question — can two people break away from the ordinary without breaking apart?) Kate’s second film, “The Reader” also comes in December after a tempestuous Scott Rudin-Harvey Weinstein blowup over questions of timing. But now it’s settled.