SIMON WRITES: The next Neil Simon is not a play--it's a book (his first), Rewrites, a memoir coming out this fall from Simon & Schuster. His being the most successful playwriting career of all time, it should prove a fascinating read. Not that he has given up playwriting: These days he's working on Proposals, which will lift off at L.A.'s Ahmanson next summer under the direction of Joe Mantello. . . . This summer, Mantello is making his movie-directing debut bringing Terrence McNally's Tony-winning Love! Valour! Compassion! to the screen. The original stage cast has returned to do the honors as well--save, of course, for Nathan Lane, who has other Tony-winning work to attend to (Forum); his part will be taken by Jason ("Seinfeld") Alexander, a Tony winner for Jerome Robbins' Broadway.
Madeleine Potter has slipped into Penny Downie's stylish slippers as the wife of An Ideal Husband. Otherwise, the cast that director Sir Peter Hall and producer Bill Kenwright brought over from Britain is intact and churning along swimmingly. (The reason for Downie's early exit: She has an autistic child, and doctors didn't advise being away longer than six weeks.)
WE'LL ALWAYS HAVE PARIS: During the hiatus for TV's "Almost Perfect," Kevin Kilner booked a trek to Paris with his best girl, Jordan Baker--then pushed it back a bit so he could present her with a Theatre World Award. (You were expecting, maybe, a ring?) They now have a matching set of Theatre World Awards--and both for playing Tennessee Williams characters: he last year for The Gentleman Caller in The Glass Menagerie, she this year for the lobotomy-bound Catherine Holly in Suddenly, Last Summer. . . . No doubt the Theatre World Award Kate Forbes collected for The School for Scandal has worked wonders for her self-esteem. (She has been identifying herself at functions as the woman whose understudy married Tony Randall.)
Two of the music students Maria Callas makes mincemeat of in Terrence McNally's Master Class now boast prizes for their bruises: Audra McDonald got the supporting-actress Tony for standing up to the fiercely formidable (and also Tony-winning) Zoe Caldwell, and Karen Kay Cody collected the Theatre World Award for crumbling into such a wonderfully wrought comic heap. It is McDonald's second Tony--her first in a dramatic category (the other was for Carousel)--and it is her third year out of Juilliard. Now she is moving on to a new medium--television--where she'll be playing Bill Cosby's opera-singing daughter. Cody is moving on, too--back to Seattle from which she came, reentering civilian life as a day-care teacher, which she was before she signed up for Master Class. They left their roles to Helen Goldsby and Theodora Fried. With Caldwell's sweepingly theatrical exit, the new diva in town is Patti LuPone.
-- By Harry Haun