Tony nominee perfs outstanding

GOOD MORNING and congrats Tony nominees. I’m happy we caught up with the principals of five of the multi-nominated shows during our stay in New York last week. I will long remember the triumphant, standing ovation entrance Vanessa Redgrave made at the post-preem party (at the Tavern on the Green) of “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” arm-in-arm with her sister Lynn Redgrave also working in New York onstage in “Talking Heads” — and talking to me about her (ongoing) successful treatment for breast cancer. It was hard to believe the cast of this long night’s journey into Eugene O’Neill could be as relaxed as they were at the party. Brian Dennehy said he was happy to see a longtime Hollywood friend (yours truly) in the B’way congratulatory crowd. When I asked if he’d like to do something “light” after this run, he answered, “I’ll do ANYthing — who can afford to work on Broadway?” . . . Among those also cheering him at the party was actor Martin Kove who worked with Dennehy in several “Cagney and Lacey” segs. Kove was also in town searching through the N.Y. public library’s giant webs to try and find a record of his birth mother — he was adopted at four days old . . . It was also a joyous night backstage at the Eugene O’Neill theater with Antonio Banderas following his “Nine” triumphant Broadway bow. And whatta thrill for wife Melanie Griffith who Monday announced Banderas as a Tony nominee. She will soon be appearing across the street from him in “Chicago.” Banderas sings “Guido’s Song” from “Nine” on NBC’s “Today” show, Thursday . . . I loved Bernadette Peters in “Gypsy” but kept our congratulatory backstage conversation with her short so that she’d save her energies for the show itself. After missing five shows (Maureen Moore subbed ably for her), Bernadette was triumphantly back over the weekend — and again Monday night (this show runs Monday-Saturday — no Sundays). Among directors leading a standing ovation for Bernadette on her return were: Hal Prince and wife Judy, Dan Sullivan, David Warren, Mike Nichols and wife Diane Sawyer, Leonard Foglia, Nora Ephron and husband Nicholas Pileggi and Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw — the Spielbergs’ second visit. Hmm, a film musical for Steven? . . . And, of course, I was a part of the (nightly) standing ovation for “Hairspray” — which received 13 Tony nominations. The irrepressible (and inimitable) Harvey Fierstein is skedded to stay on board through August when he films a (untitled) pilot for Craig Zadan and Neil Meron who are now in N.Y. discussing the sked and script with him. As you recall I reported (Feb. 4) that another inimitable, Bruce Vilanch, will be playing “Hairspray’s” Edna Turnblad in the national touring company of the show which has its bow Sept. 9 in Baltimore — the play’s setting. (Vilanch sheds his beard around July 27).

L.A’S POLICE CHIEF Bill Bratton was in N.Y. to launch his wife’s (Court TV anchor Rikki Kleiman) autobiog, “Fairy Tales Can Come True” (Reagan Books) at Elaine’s. “The last two chapters are about us” — he said happily about their courtship and marriage — “after age 50.” Bratton was also happy to tell me that Rikki would be moving to L.A. in June joining the chief in their Los Feliz area home . . . Among those also on hand at Elaine’s was Adrien Brody who made his “Saturday Night Live” hostint bow . . . It was like old times at the Cafe Carlyle where Bobby Short made his triumphant return — his 35th consecutive year. He’s totally recuped from a spill in L.A. and, as usual, had the faithful applauding for more. Monday he put his hand prints in cement outside the Hotel Carlyle to commemorate the record-setting stand. He’ll remain at the boite until June 28 when he takes his annual summer in the south of France… Following the airing of “Saturnday Night Live” last week, Lorne Michaels was busy readying his “Tracy Morgan” pilot for NBC. It got a mid-season nod. Brad Grey TV got four new shows in Monday’s lineup announcement. The web’s Jeff Zucker got laughs describing what he has to do to get back friends — who didn’t make the sked.

TERRY SEMEL WILL BE SPEAKER at the June 13 commencement of UCLA’s School of Theater Film and Television when Moctesuma Esparza will receive the Alumni Achievement Award — for which we were honored in 2000 . . . The “Shrek 4-D” attraction got a whopping sendoff at Universal Studios Hollywood over the weekend — with kids and adults (yeah, us too) shrieking at the 13-minute “sequel” to the blockbuster DreamWorks pic. On hand were co-stars Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy plus DreamWorks Jeffrey Katzenberg, U’s Ron Meyer and Universal Studios Hollywood’s Larry Kurzweil on the “green carpet.” Showbiz is still alive and well at Universal — while storm clouds continue to form in France… Roger Moore is back at his Monte Carlo home, recuped from a fainting spell during a guestint on “The Play What I Wrote” — he landed in the hospital and received a pacemaker . . . And Pierre Cossette is OK and home after heart surgery at Cedars-Sinai . . . The Century Plaza Hotel ballroom was SRO to honor Gordon Davidson, Ava Fries and Elinor Turner for their respective momentous contributions to the Center Theater Group Affiliates. It was also Gordon’s 70th birthday. The evening netted $400,000 for the CTG’s Education program. Chuck Fries created a short highlighting wife Ava’s devotion to CTG; Michele Lee made the presentation to her. Richard Thomas hosted the celebration to Davidson and Lea Salonga, Valerie Pettiford and Betty Garrett song-saluted Gordon who has, more than anyone, made L.A. theater-proud from coast to coast .It was standing ovation time . . . And Johnny Grant was toasted on his 80th birthday with a fundraiser for the Hollywood Entertainment Museum — $800,000 was raised at the event in the Hollywood & Highland Grand Ballroom packed with celebs, service organizations applauding Johnny’s 56 trips to entertain troops, 100 of whom in dress uniforms saluted Johnny. Happy birthday Johnny and many thanks also from this Army.

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