WHAT'S HAPPENING BEHIND THE SCENES
THE SONGS OF BERNADETTE: Not only is Bernadette Peters the curviest new addition to the Gershwin's Theatre Wall of Fame, she was also the performer singled out for top honors at the 11th annual "Mr. Abbott" awards.
Also cited: The Really Useful Company, producers of "Sunset Boulevard" and such, and Gordon Davidson, artistic director and producer of L.A.'s Mark Taper Forum.
This new wave of Theatre Wall of Fame inductees includes Terrence McNally, Marian Seldes, Negro Ensemble Company founder Douglas Turner Ward, lighting designer Abe Feder, Horton Foote, Elaine Stritch and two deceased actors: Raul Julia of "The Threepenny Opera" and "Nine," and Joseph Schildkraut of "Liliom" and "The Diary of Anne Frank"
BEST FOOTE FORWARD: A footnote to Foote's 1994 play, "The Young Man from Atlanta," Broadway-bound April 9 with Carlin Glynn and Ralph Waite under the direction of Peter Masterson: It has already arrived in bookstores, via Dutton.Also, this Foote work won't be the only Pulitzer Prize-winning play going for the Tony Award this year. Count fellow Texan Sam Shepard in as well via "Buried Child," which picked up the Pulitzer during its original 1978 Off-Broadway run and is now Broadway-bound in a Steppenwolf revival directed by Gary Sinise. The Chicago cast included another Texan, Ethan Hawke, along with Lois Smith (who played Ma Joad to Sinise's Tom Joad in the Tony-winning stage edition of "The Grapes of Wrath"), James Gammon, Leo Burmester and Ted Levine.
McNally is another Texan not to be ruled out for Tony consideration, via "Master Class," a star vehicle almost certain to bring Zoe Caldwell a fourth Tony Award.
KNOCK ON WOODY: Question: What's even rarer than a Howard Kissel screen cameo? Answer: a Zoe Caldwell screen cameo. Whereas the New York Daily News drama critic had a speaking bit in a film proper ("Stardust Memories"), La Caldwell's only appearance in a feature-length flick has been one step removed from that--in Allen's film-within-a-film ("The Purple Rose of Cairo").
Interestingly, both were coaxed before the cameras by the same director, and both are present and accounted for in the handsome new pictorial put out by Harry N. Abrams: "Woody Allen at Work: The Photographs of Brian Hamill. In this collection of a quarter-century of set shots from Allen's movies, Pete's bro demonstrates how frequently the director dips into the New York acting pool. The capper, of course, is the ultimate Broadway diva whom Allen and Oscar-winning Dianne Wiest trotted out in "Bullets Over Broadway"--"ultimate" that is, till Caldwell came along as Callas in "Master Class."
-- By Harry Haun