This year, after winning an Oscar and presenting a Tony, Helen Hunt was asked by a scribe to compare the two awards. "I haven't won a Tony," the Emmy winner shot back. "When I win one, I'll compare them immediately for you. I'll call you and compare them."
At least she's looking in the right places nowadays, playing Viola in a very starry Twelfth Night at the Vivian Beaumont. It's her first time back on stage since 1990 when she was Bianca in the Morgan Freeman-Tracey Ullman Taming of the Shrew.
Hours before As Good As It Gets got her the Oscar, Hunt inked a deal to press on with Year Seven of TV's "Mad About You" -- for at least a mil an episode (maybe more) -- and yet her first post-Oscar career move is to do Shakespeare for scale. Go figure -- and this even means the sitcom will have to shoot two episodes here the last couple of weeks in August in order to meet its airdate.
"There wasn't any question for me," Hunt said about Twelfth Night. "I love this play. And [director] Nick Hytner's work. And this beautiful theatre [the Vivian Beaumont]. The combination of all that makes this just a dream job for me."
It's her second pass at Viola. A television commitment had forced her out of the part once before. Now, she's hoping to get a shot at Isabella in Measure for Measure, Rosalind in As You Like It and the Shrew herself, Kate. Plus, she'd love to work with her uncle, Peter Hunt, who helmed The Scarlet Pimpernel and the original 1776. *
Rosemary Harris, on a break from making Sunshine [a movie] in Budapest with her daughter (Jennifer Ehle) and William Hurt, glittered up the opening of You Never Can Tell; it stars her friend, Simon Jones, and other Shavian worthies (Charles Keating, Helen Carey, Robert Sean Leonard, et al). . . . That very day the ever-elegant Harris had hopped a train to a bus to Englewood, NJ., where she visited with the grande dame of gossip columnists, Radie Harris, at the Actors Fund Home. She took along a bottle of Bristol Cream Sherry, which they polished off in a cheery little room named after a theatrical giant rumored to have been one of Radie's amours. . . . Al Hirschfeld, a caricaturist in a class by himself, spent the day after his 95th birthday taking in an evening's entertainment authored by his first drama editor at The New York Times, George S. Kaufman -- who later on, you'll recall, went legendarily legit as a playwright. A collection of Kaufman's letters, sketches and sass, By George! was a benefit gala for the Drama Dept., and the company turned out en masse to make it an amusing and literate night. Honored guests (and guest-stars): Kitty Carlisle Hart, widow of his favorite collaborator, and Anne Kaufman Schneider, The Great Man's daughter. . . . Adolph Zukor, president of Paramount Pictures, once offered a measly $30,000 for film rights to one of Kaufman's plays. Kaufman cabled a reply offering Zukor $40,000 for Paramount.
-- By Harry Haun