Broadway will lose a potent shot of emotional adrenaline when The Price closes on March 5. Arthur Miller fans can, however, take some consolation in the local multiplex, with all three male stars appearing in films out now. Many of you have already seen Jeffrey DeMunn and Harris Yulin; DeMunn plays the least flashy death row guard in "The Green Mile," and Yulin is one of the defense attorneys in "The Hurricane." (His is one of the characters that critics have questioned as being inauthentic and/or highly glossed over.) Bob Dishy is featured prominently in "Judy Berlin" (opening in New York on Feb. 25. "Judy Berlin," which also stars Side Man alumna Edie Falco ("The Sopranos"), won a directing award at last year's Sundance Film Festival.
Speaking of criminally underrated four-person dramas, I mentioned Dinner With Friends a little while back in reference to playwright Donald Margulies' work on adapting Tom Wolfe's "A Man in Full" for TV. In addition, costar Lisa Emery's work in the A.R. Gurney drama Far East, which ran at Lincoln Center last year, has been filmed for the upcoming PBS series "Stage on Screen." (Yes, that title is awfully similar to "Stage to Screen." But I think I stole it from somewhere else. Ours is a collaborative world.)
This PBS series, which would presumably take the place of the much missed "American Playhouse," has been bandied about for almost two years now, but specifics are tough to track down. As soon as I get specifics, I will pass them on to you. I have heard that Anna Deavere Smith's "Twilight" will ultimately surface here and that it will also dip into the archives to show previous stage efforts. Everybody remembers the Sondheim productions, including "Sunday in the Park With George" and "Passion," but a ton of other theatre notables put together great shows for "American Playhouse"; I remember a really creepy Julie Taymor piece with huge puppets and a dwarf, as well as a production of "Charley's Aunt" starring Charles Grodin.
Until "Stage on Screen" makes its debut (possibly in the fall), we'll have to content ourselves with "Great Performances." "Crazy for You" aired last year, and next up is the Duke Ellington Twelfth Night remake "Play On!" It's scheduled for April 5, but PBS is infamous for fiddling with airdates. (And somebody missed the boat with Ellington, whose anniversary was last year. The production was filmed back in August, and "Great Performances" could have gotten it ready in time for 1999. Can't wait for the millennium special next December.)
* Those Sondheim musicals (I am all about effortless segues this time) will be seen as part of a larger tribute at the New York and Los Angeles branches of the Museum of Television and Radio in March. I'll write more about that in the next column; meanwhile, the American Museum of the Moving Image in Queens has a similar retrospective running through Feb. 17 in honor of John Frankenheimer. Frankenheimer may be best known for tightly wound Cold War classics like "The Manchurian Candidate" and "Seven Days in May," but he has also dabbled in the theater. Feb. 15 will see the screening of "All Fall Down," an early Frankenheimer effort adapted from the William Inge play and starring Warren Beatty and Eva Marie Saint. Perhaps of even greater interest is his four-hour "The Iceman Cometh," with Lee Marvin as Hickey. The 1973 made-for-TV production screens the following day. Call (212) 334-2100 for more information.
Another film director with a soft spot for musicals (these segues are unbelievable) is Norman Jewison, who is currently waiting to hear if his work on "The Hurricane" will be recognized by the Academy. (I personally have my doubts, but of all the legitimate qualifiers, he's easily the most entrenched.) Despite directing "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Jesus Christ Superstar," Jewison told Variety's Army Archerd that "they don't want me to do another." It's unclear who exactly "they" are, but he names "Chicago" as one project that he's eager to direct. Jewison's a heck of a director -- check out "Moonstruck" and the underrated "In Country" if you have any doubts. But if Miramax ever does move on "Chicago," it will line up a proven yet young director to keep the energy level high and, given the riskiness of a Hollywood musical, the salary relatively low. Nicholas Hytner is still the odds-on favorite, but Miramax darling Anthony Minghella could be ideal.
Cutting-Room Floor: Des McAnuff appears to be settling into Hollywood. "The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle," written by new Sundance darling Kenneth Lonergan (This Is Our Youth), is due out this summer, and the Tommy director has settled on his next film project. He's close to signing onto a marital comedy named "Thursday Night" for Dreamworks. ... Off-Broadway staple Eric Overmyer is also working in Hollywood. He's one of two writers listed on "Homicide: The Movie," a full-length conclusion to the acclaimed NBC cop show. It airs Feb. 13. ... As several readers pointed out, the Austin Pendleton/Philip Seymour Hoffman "15 Minute Hamlet" airs periodically between programs on Bravo. If Hoffman gets nominated for "The Talented Mr. Ripley" or "Magnolia," maybe it will be slotted into a specific time slot. … It's another quiet few weeks for major releases. However, watch for Gary Sinise in the Frankenheimer directed "Reindeer Games" (Feb. 25), Ron Rifkin in "Boiler Room" (Feb. 18) and an indie film named "The Waiting Game" (limited release on Feb. 25). This last offering may be the most enticing for many of you: It follows the ups and downs in a restaurant staffed almost entirely by struggling actors.
My Favorite Thought: A lot (but not all) of you seemed to want a new film of "Into the Woods." However, most people wanted to keep the major cast members and not change any of the text. Um, isn't that the PBS video? If Julie Taymor or Tim Burton or whoever is going to do it, let them do whatever they feel they need to with it. Casting choices were all over the map, but my favorite picks were Ruthie Henshall as Cinderella, perennial twosome Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as the two Princes, Diane Keaton as the Baker's Wife and John Malkovich as the Wolf. Several requests for Kristen Chenoweth as Little Red (too old?) and Bebe Neuwirth as the Stepmother (perfect). Anyway, thanks for all the suggestions.
Sam threw out another casting suggestion, one that I support wholeheartedly: "If Mr. Spacey has a feeling for history, symmetry and poetry, he will recruit Jason Robards to play Harry Hope. (And hopefully Mr. Robards would have the dignity and humility to accept.)" Hear, hear.
Finally, Jeffrey has managed to set the record straight on all this copyright back-and-forth. Most everyone who contributed to the discussion (myself included) was off on the specifics, in part because the rules are complicated. Anyway, this link to the Library of Congress should take care of it. Apologies to anyone who may have been confused. www.loc.gov/copyright/faq.html
Your Thoughts: Once the Oscar nominations come in on Feb. 15, let me know what you think, especially about "American Beauty," "Topsy-Turvy," "Cradle Will Rock" and all the rest. And does anyone have any "American Playhouse" memories to share?
Eric Grode is New York bureau chief of Show Music magazine, assistant editor of The Sondheim Review and a theater critic for Back Stage.