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‘Salome’ stages blitz

Pacino's L.A. prod'n hits screen, Net

For a four-week run, the producers of Oscar Wilde’s “Salome” are pulling out the stops like few L.A. productions before it.

A Web site, podcasts and a four-minute film are being used as promotional tools for the Al Pacino starrer, which also is being shot for a documentary in the vein of his 1996 pic “Looking for Richard.”

While more and more Gotham productions turn to the Web for marketing, it is still something of a rarity in the Los Angeles theater scene beyond the major venues — and they don’t create separate sites for each play.

“We’ve got the cameras in and we had what seemed like a perfect opportunity to share (Pacino’s observations),” says Robert Fox, lead producer of the play and the film, titled “Salomaybe?” “It’s fascinating to hear Al talk about his feelings about why he wants to do this play and what it is that inspired him to keep doing it.”

The Web site will allow “Salome” to have blogs and regular updates, says Amy Nederlander, one of the three producers of the play who will be an exec producer on the docu. It’s also needed to help sell tickets.

“Al is a wonderful draw, but lead-in time is very short,” she notes.

Salomeinla.com went live April 18 with a video of Pacino discussing the play he has staged in Brooklyn, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and Broadway in late 2002 and early 2003. (A Southern California tour was scheduled last year and abruptly canceled when Pacino’s schedule changed.) Play opened at the 1,180-seat Wadsworth Theater April 14, with a press opening slated for April 27; run ends May 14.

Producers say the intention of the Web site and the podcast is to get L.A. audiences enthused about the play. “The podcast gives a wonderful sense of the experience — stylized and simple, costumed to a point and very contemporary,” notes Nederlander, a producer of Michael Frayn’s “Democracy” and “Whoopi” on Broadway in the 2004-05 season.

Footage shot during rehearsals here will be packaged in a sales reel that producers will take to the Cannes Film Festival for pre-sales.

“Salomaybe?,” is being funded by private investors via Barry Navidi’s shingle Navidi Wilde. Pacino will direct and Navidi will produce along with Fox. Arclight Films will handle international sales. The budget has not been set for the film; the play’s nut is $650,000.

Navidi and Nederlander say the intention is to complete the film this year.

“Al wanted to make a film for a long time and had very different ideas of how to do it,” says Fox, who’ll next be producing the Australia run of his Broadway hit “The Boy From Oz” starring Hugh Jackman. “When we were putting this run together, we had a conversation that maybe this is the moment to do something, to make a behind-the-scenes film. It’s a work in process, as ‘Looking for Richard’ was. I don’t know what will happen at the end of the film. I bet if you ask Al, he doesn’t know either.”

Footage for the Internet will have a slightly different take from the film’s. The podcast addresses Pacino’s motivation for doing the play, while “Salomaybe?” concerns “the process that actors (and filmmakers) go through,” Navidi says.

For the Wadsworth staged reading, Pacino plays King Herod; Kevin Anderson portrays John the Baptist; and Jessica Chastain, who graduated from Juilliard just three years ago, has the title role. As in New York, Wilde’s 1893 biblical classic is directed by Estelle Parsons.

“I’ve never worked (in L.A.),” Fox says. “It’s fascinating. Theater is definitely not on top of everyone’s agenda. But this is unusual and interesting. And I think we’ll surprise people.”

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