This is the last column before the Oscar nominations are announced on Feb. 12, so I thought I’d handicap the possible contenders. Unfortunately, the odds are very low of any stage-themed movie earning many nominations, so I’ll keep it brief. (The one project with real potential, “Moulin Rouge!” has very little to do with theater. But if it does well, which think it will, look for “Chicago” to be joined by a handful of new film musicals in 2003.) Here are the possibilities, essentially by default:
• Initial interest in “Piñero” and “Lantana” (mostly Best Actor nods for Benjamin Bratt and Anthony LaPaglia, respectively) has died down considerably. I wouldn’t rule out a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination for “Lantana” scribe Andrew Bovell, but it’s looking doubtful: Most of the likely Best Picture nominees come from existing source material, so those scripts will snag most of the nominations.
• Without Nicole Kidman and familiar Elton John songs to put voters at ease, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” is way too subversive for Hollywood. It’s possible that it will get a few richly deserved technical nominations, particularly for costumes and sound, but that’s about it.
• Dance of Death costars Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren are definite acting candidates (for “Lord of the Rings” and “Gosford Park,” respectively). If I had to lean toward one or the other, I’d say Mirren should get a Best Supporting Actress nomination.
I’ve been putting off releasing my Top 10 for 2001, largely out of spite, but I’ll finally make my picks in the next column. Truth be told, I did see at least 16 or 18 fine films in 2001, but I think I unconsciously set the bar a bit lower after a while. Being barraged by mediocrity will do that to you after a while. *
An interesting film project may take root in London stage in May, when John Madden is scheduled to direct his “Shakespeare in Love” star Gwyneth Paltrow in a six-week run of Proof at the Donmar Warehouse. It appears that Miramax has just bought the rights to David Auburn’s Pulitzer-winning play; several gossip columnists are speculating that the Donmar run could be a tryout of sorts for Paltrow, who has a very solid relationship with Miramax.
Speaking of Proof, thanks to the handful of readers who spotted my mistake in last week’s column. Mary-Louise Parker (who created the lead role in Proof) will play Harper Pitt, not Hannah Pitt, in the HBO “Angels in America” miniseries. Hannah (the mom) will be played by Meryl Streep. All we need is for Paltrow to create a stage role that Marcia Gay Harden can snatch up for Hollywood, and we’ll have come full circle.
Every year so far, the Lincoln Center Festival has several summer treats for culture buffs. The 2002 slate has been announced, and one series of special note is the tribute to Ely Landau’s American Film Theater. This ambitious project in the 1970s teamed major directors and major actors in various stage classics. It’s too early to know the entire rundown, but among those are promised are John Frankenheimer’s production of “The Iceman Cometh,” with Lee Marvin and Fredric March; Tony Richardson’s production of “A Delicate Balance,” with Katharine Hepburn and Paul Scofield; and Laurence Olivier’s “Three Sisters,” with Joan Plowright, Olivier and Derek Jacobi. I don’t know much more beyond this, but it should be a terrific lineup: Landau also produced works by Brecht, Pinter, Ionesco, Genet and many others. The Lincoln Center Festival will run through most of July.
I’ll talk more about “Scotland, Pa.,” the 1970s Macbeth update, next time. But I will point out that there really is a Scotland, Pa. It’s near the southern border of the state, less than an hour away from my hometown of Camp Hill. Unfortunately, the film was shot in Canada, but I’ll still try to keep an open mind about the movie, which opens Feb. 8 in New York and Los Angeles. Maura Tierney (“E.R.”) and James LeGros star as the titular couple, with Christopher Walken as a Lieutenant McDuff.
Cutting-Room Floor: It looks like Jude Law will be moving from Sam Mendes to David Mamet. Law, who will appear in Mendes’ gangster drama “The Road to Perdition,” is scheduled to take the title role in “Diary of a Young London Physician.” This latest telling of the Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde story, written and directed by Mamet, could start filming in late spring. ... I’ve been told the HBO version of “The Vagina Monologues,” airing on Feb. 14 (V-Day), is very worth watching. Lots of documentary footage of various interview subjects to go along with Eve Ensler’s material. David Hare and Stephen Daldry must have enjoyed writing and directing “The Hours,” respectively. Scott Rudin (of the recent Stephen Sondheim lawsuits) has hired the tandem to adapt Paramount’s latest highbrow novel adaptation, Jonathan Franzen’s “The Corrections.” By the way, “The Hours” is now scheduled to open Oct. 4. ... Take note, John Leguizamo fans: You’ve only got a week to catch his hilarious Sexaholix on Broadway, or you can catch him in “Collateral Damage,” which opens Feb. 8.
My Favorite Thought: This is a bit off the topic here, but I got a really interesting question from D Bennett. I’m curious to get some input from all of you on this:
“Which is considered a better cast in the performance community, the original touring company or a second- or third-run Broadway cast?”
Your Thoughts: The recent flap over non-Equity tours has politicized this topic somewhat, but it’s an interesting question. What do you think? And who has any last-minute Oscar predictions?
Eric Grode is New York bureau chief of Show Music magazine, assistant editor of The Sondheim Review and a theatre critic for Back Stage.