Producer Bonnie Timmerman's unlikely journey
ON THE Broadway stage, people lucky enough to snag tickets to “God of Carnage,” get the chance to see the award-winning Marcia Gay Harden playing the wife of James “The Sopranos” Gandolfini in a work of high comedy that is a smash hit.
I spoke to Marcia Gay, my U. of Texas alumnae pal, and asked if she and her distinguished cast would extend their run past the July 19 cutoff date? She sighed: “We are trying to figure it out. If we can all go on, we will, happily. We are such a team.” (This includes actors Jeff Daniels and Hope Davis.) But Marcia really wanted to talk about a little indie movie she made with her own little girl, Eulala Scheel. “Home,” was filmed in the Amish countryside several years ago and has won attention in England, Montreal, Boston and Houston. It tells of an alcoholic mother who repeats circumstances of her own childhood when she becomes a mother herself. There will be a benefit screening of this acclaimed film at the Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater, 5 West 63rd, in NYC on Monday at 6:30 p.m. (The Norma F. Pfriem Breast Cancer Center benefits.) Call 212-352-3101 or 866-811-4111.
Marcia Gay is not just the mother of the talented natural actress Eulala, now 10, but also of younger twins. She laughed at how busy she has been. “Liz, I haven’t crossed my legs in private life!” (Marcia Gay is wed to a man who builds houses, edits videos and “knows how to do an awful lot,” according to his actress wife. They are living now in Harlem during her Broadway run but call a large spread in the Catskills “home.”)
I asked the actress if she had read the rave review I gave to her and “God of Carnage?” She said, “Honestly, I haven’t. Our director, Matthew Warchus, asked us not to read the reviews. He is afraid we will begin to perform the play according to what the reviewers said and not the way we originally conceived it.”
So, hey, people — the cast of “God of Carnage” doesn’t even know they are in Broadway’s biggest hit!
NOW, HERE is a story of starstruck luck and clever ambition. It should inspire everybody who ever hoped to succeed. A New Yorker named Bonnie Timmermann grew up loving all entertainment. She became a casting director for the theater and television and in her early days, hired actor after actor. Many went on to become superstars. Eventually, Bonnie was casting for Broadway and became involved in setting up the drama “Death and the Maiden.” Seeking an actress to play a hat check girl, Bonnie saw a photo of a blonde woman in the newspaper. She thought this person was perfect for the role, searched her out, asking her to read for the part. It turned out the woman was Gladys Nederlander of the famed theatrical producing family. Gladys was thrilled at the thought of acting, told all her friends and arrived before Ms. Timmerman who instantly realized she was “too glamourous” for the role.
So the two women had a laugh together and then Bonnie, seized by ambition, thrust the play script into the hands of Gladys. She said abruptly: “Read this and if you like it, I want a million five to put into this play for us to produce it. I have to have your answer by next Monday.” When, Gladys, surprisingly, came back with the dough, Bonnie went from casting director to producer in a heartbeat. She says now of the experience: “I got a great magical break out of an impulsive gesture. I loved casting, but I needed to forge ahead. There has been a lot of magic in my life ever since. And — I still miss Gladys, who died in July. What a loss to me!”
I suppose one could call this story “grasping the nettle.” Bonnie, Gladys and other producers had a grand success with “Death and the Maiden” and none other than Mike Nichols directed the play. Then, in the early ’90s, they went to Paris and Spain, turning it into a movie with Roman Polanski directing.
So, no wonder, Bonnie Timmermann is now considered a formidable producer. She knows how to make things happen. This week, Bonnie is off to L.A. to work on a new movie, titled “Taxi Wars,” to star Djimon Hounsou.
While she is in La La Land, Bonnie and Mike Medavoy will also be talking to Shirley MacLaine about a project written by Antwone Fisher and is to be directed by Scott Prendergast.