×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Charity Reading of ‘Terms of Endearment’ Sends Star Cast Into Tears

Despite a 35-year heads-up that “Terms of Endearment” is a masterful tearjerker, a starry charity reading of the Oscar-winning screenplay ended in sobs on Monday in Los Angeles.

Actors Calista Flockhart, Constance Wu, Kumail Nanjiani, Alfred Molina, Melissa Benoist, and “Grey’s Anatomy” star Kate Burton all shed tears while performing the script — some in the context of their scenes, but mostly in observing their co-stars perform the 1983 James L. Brooks drama (which originally starred Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jeff Daniels, and Jack Nicholson).

“I was so embarrassed, I tried to hold it in so much. I was ducking down in my chair,” Wu told Variety, crediting the “story and writing of this caliber, it’s almost impossible not to. The words do that to you.”

The reading benefited the Hollywood-backed Stand Up 2 Cancer Foundation, as well as the event’s host venue the Geffen Playhouse Theater in L.A.’s Westwood neighborhood. It was produced by TV mogul Greg Berlanti’s eponymous company and writer-producer Jessica Queller, and generated over $100,000 for cancer research from ticket sales.

The idea for the evening was sparked by “Supergirl” stars Benoist and Chris Wood, an off-set couple who told Berlanti they often spend their weekends reading plays to one another. Berlanti got them to agree to stage it, and recruit their “Supergirl” co-star Flockhart to join for a good cause.

“It was pretty much unanimously going to be ‘Terms of Endearment,’ because we wanted something with great roles for the three of them. Unfortunately there’s not a great litany of movies in the last 40 years with these kind of female roles, and that’s why we want more of them. We knew they’d be electric in this,” he said.

Queller pointed out how the property was “resonant for a cancer charity,” given that the film follows a mother and daughter with conflicting generational ideals loving and fighting each other in a suburb of Houston. One of them succumbs to terminal illness and their family circle absorbs the shock.

Benoist took Winger’s role of the daughter, Emma, and Flockhart played MacLaine’s role of lovable narcissist matriarch Aurora. On stage at the Geffen, as the two women read the final few scenes set in an intensive care hospital ward, none on-stage or in the house could hold it together. Nanjiani (who took a role originated by John Lithgow) and Molina (in Nicholson’s part) dotted tears away as the scene raged on.

Wu played Emma’s debutante best friend Patsy (played by Lisa Hart Carroll and, in a later sequel, by Miranda Richardson), and openly cried, swatting her face with a travel pack of tissues.

That was a luxury afforded to everyone, by the way. The Geffen came prepared and handed out a pack-per-person at the top of the aisles before curtain.

More Film

  • Javier Bardem Elle Fanning Salma Hayek

    Javier Bardem, Elle Fanning, Salma Hayek to Star in Sally Potter Drama

    Production has begun in Spain on Sally Potter’s untitled family drama, starring Javier Bardem, Elle Fanning, Salma Hayek, Chris Rock, and Laura Linney. The story is described as a chronicle of a wild day in the life of a man on the edge, held together by the unconditional love of his daughter with Bardem and [...]

  • avengers infinity war

    Disney Makes History Again With $7 Billion at Global Box Office for 2018

    Disney has topped $7 billion at the global box office for 2018 — with three weeks left in the year. Disney reached the milestone on Dec. 9, marking only the second time in history that any studio has hit that landmark. Disney set the record in 2016 with $7.6 billion. “Avengers: Infinity War” led the way [...]

  • Filmax Snags Top Spanish Kids Feature

    Filmax Snags Top Spanish Kids Feature ‘The Lunnis’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Barcelona-based sales agency Filmax announced today at Argentina’s Ventana Sur market, that it has acquired the rights to the film adaptation of RTVE’s preschool children’s part-puppet, part-live action and part-animated kids’ show “The Lunnis,” titled “The Lunnis and the Great Fairy Tales Adventure.” The announcement was made with an accompanying trailer for the film, slated [...]

  • Payroll Specialist Cast & Crew Sold

    Payroll Specialist Cast & Crew Sold to Investment Fund EQT VIII

    Payroll specialist Cast & Crew Entertainment Services has been sold by Silver Lake to the investment Fund EQT VIII for an undisclosed price. Cast & Crew, based in Burbank, Calif., and founded in 1976, touts itself as the premier provider of technology-enabled payroll and production-management services to the entertainment industry. Services include payroll processing, residuals [...]

  • Steve James Chicago Story

    Participant Media Partners With Filmmaker Steve James on Documentary 'Chicago Story' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Participant Media is reteaming with Oscar-nominated filmmaker Steve James and his longtime production home, Kartemquin Films, on his latest documentary, “Chicago Story.” Participant Media will finance the project, which will be produced by James and Zak Piper. Participant’s Jeff Skoll and Diane Weyermann will executive produce with Alex Kotlowitz and Gordon Quinn. James, Piper, and [...]

  • 'Metro 2033' Film Project Halted Because

    'Metro 2033' Film Project Halted Because 'A Lot of Things Didn't Work'

    It appears that MGM’s film adaptation of “Metro 2033” is no longer happening because “a lot of things didn’t work,” according to VG24/7. “Metro 2033” is a novel by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was also adapted into a series of successful survival horror shooters from video game publisher THQ and developer 4A Games in [...]

  • Jirga

    Film Review: 'Jirga'

    Buried within the closing crawl of writer, director, cinematographer and co-producer Benjamin Gilmour’s unfortunately cryptic but nonetheless fascinating debut film “Jirga” are shout-outs for security, political and cultural liaisons, as well as an Afghan film advisor. These credits speak, however quietly, to the no-doubt-delicate and clearly arduous making of a film that finds a guilt-ridden [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content