Dramatist Kenneth Lonergan, who new play Lobby Hero begins previews at Playwrights Horizons later this week, has received an Academy Award nomination for his original screenplay for the film "You Can Count on Me." Lonergan was not nominated for his direction of the movie, and the film did not net a best picture nod.
Also honored with a nomination was "You Can Count on Me" star Laura Linney. In the film, she plays the more straight-laced of two small-town siblings, who struggles between her moral code and more humane, fallable instincts. Linney, the daughter of playwright Romulus Linney, has appeared on the New York stage regularly since first garnering notice in the role of a reporter in Donald Margulies' Sight Unseen.
Earlier this year, Lonergan was recognized with a Golden Globe nomination for his screenplay of the independent film "You Can Count on Me." The movie, Lonergan's first effort as both screenwriter and director, has already won much praise and a few festival prizes.
Lonergan's breakout play, This Is Our Youth, debuted at New York City's The New Group several seasons back (starring Mark Ruffalo, who is featured in "You Can Count on Me") and later returned as a commercial Off-Broadway hit. Last season, his drama, The Waverly Gallery played a short, but praised run, at the Promenade Theatre. Lonergan has written screenplays before—including "Analyze This"—but has expressed displeasure with the resulting films.
Other theatre artists nominated for Oscars include British director Stephen Daldry, nominated for "Billy Elliot"; and Dame Judi Dench, recognized for her supporting turn in "Chocolat"; Peter Riegert (The Old Neighborhood, An American Daughter), who adapted and directed the nominated live action short "By Courier"; and Eric Simonson, the Steppenwolf Theatre Company ensemble member and Tony-nominated director (The Song of Jacob Zulu), who was recognized for his documentary short "On Tiptoe: Gentle Steps to Freedom," about the South African singing group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo. [Full disclosure: Eric Simonson is this writer's brother.] —By Robert Simonson