STAGE TO SCREENS: Chats with Osment, Lindsay-Abaire, Ashley and Gaynor

News   STAGE TO SCREENS: Chats with Osment, Lindsay-Abaire, Ashley and Gaynor This month: Haley Joel Osment (American Buffalo), David Lindsay-Abaire (Shrek the Musical), Elizabeth Ashley (Dividing the Estate), and Mitzi Gaynor ("Razzle Dazzle! The Special Years").

Haley Joel Osment
Haley Joel Osment

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Haley Joel Osment, whose Oscar-nominated "Sixth Sense" performance made the phrase "I see dead people" part of the American lexicon, makes his Broadway debut in David Mamet's American Buffalo (opening Nov. 17, at the Belasco). So now he can say, "I see live people." The actor laughs. "A lot of them; it's a big theatre."

Not on any ego trip, the former child star comes across as mature, friendly, sincere, and dedicated. Delighted that Barack Obama was victorious, Osment's an NYU student, with a double major: drama and history. (He sees finals.)

What does he consider the biggest plus and minus about child stardom? "There isn't a built-in downside. There are stereotypes people have, but not challenges that can't be overcome. Positive things outweigh any risks."

Has Broadway always been a goal? "It was something I wanted to do, but not something I was thinking about immediately before this happened. I feel lucky it happened so soon." How did Osment become involved in the Mamet revival? "David [Mamet] and Bob [Falls], the director, approached me. They wanted to put a new spin on the play, with different types of actors portraying the characters."

Originally on Broadway in 1977, the three-character drama concerns a plan to steal a coin collection. Originating the roles were Robert Duvall (as Walt/Teach), Kenneth McMillan (Donny) and John Savage (Bobby). In the 1983 revival, the cast was Al Pacino, J.J. Johnston and James Hayden. A 1996 movie version starred Dustin Hoffman, Dennis Franz, and Sean Nelson. Now featured are John Leguizamo, Cedric the Entertainer (Cedric Kyles) and Osment.

Was he familiar with the play? "I've read it, but it's a tough read. During the play, my character, Bobby, goes offstage to do things. It's important for me to know what I do when I leave the stage. It has impact on the rest of the play and on the relationships.

"Bobby's someone who's grown up on the streets. He has no family, no friends. He's had a lot of trouble with heroin. Donny gets him to scope out jobs for him — menial tasks, no big business — but they give Bobby a purpose in life. Donny's a father figure, the one person who makes him feel like he's worth anything. He tries to please Donny, and be what Donny calls 'a stand-up guy.'

"Subtlety in film acting doesn't play onstage. You have to reach the back row. But it's fun, because it allows you to hit these moments and beats in a strong way. Rehearsal was intense. The dialogue's difficult, and we had to get comfortable with tech things.

"Mamet came by a couple of times, and we talked about the people who inspired the characters. His only advice was 'know your lines and don't bump into the furniture.' At the first preview, we really started hitting our stride — finding moments that make the play richer. Every night's a learning process. By the time we officially open, I think that it's going to be in amazing condition."

Born in Los Angeles to (actor) Eugene and (teacher) Theresa Osment, he has a younger sister, Emily, "who's on the 'Hannah Montana' show [as Lily Truscott]." He was chosen, at age four, for a Pizza Hut commercial, "but that pizza didn't taste too good." One of his early movie roles was Forest Gump, Jr. Recalls Osment, "Tom [Hanks] was great; Bob Zemeckis, the director, fantastic!"

Did he have any idea, while making "The Sixth Sense," that it would become such a success? "No. I don't think anybody did. We knew we had a good project, but the level of success was a surprise. We all got along very well — Bruce [Willis], Night [M. Night Shyamalan, the director], and Toni Collette."

Nominated for a 1999 Supporting Actor Academy Award, Osment lost his "Sixth Sense" bid to Michael Caine (for "The Cider House Rules"). In his acceptance, Caine acknowledged his younger (by 55 years) competitor's superb performance.

Caine's comment, says Osment, "was perhaps the best part of the night. And I got to work with him, a few years later, in 'Secondhand Lions' [which also co-starred original American Buffalo lead, Robert Duvall]."

Along the way were many TV appearances, including three series: "Thunder Alley" (27 episodes, 1994-95), "The Jeff Foxworthy Show" (24 episodes, 1995-97), and "Murphy Brown" (six episodes, as Candice Bergen's son, 1997-98).

Osment's other movies include "Pay It Forward" (with Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt) and Stephen Spielberg's "Artificial Intelligence: AI." Upcoming are "Home of the Giants" (made "a couple of years ago") and "Montana Amazon."

While a fan of John Leguizamo and Cedric the Entertainer, Osment had never met either prior to rehearsals. "It's cool, because we all hit it off really well."

Concludes Osment, "I want to stay in this business. I've been lucky to have so much experience with it — and I want to keep giving better performances all the time."

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David Lindsay-Abaire
photo by Joan Marcus

David Lindsay-Abaire, a 2007 Pulitzer Prize winner (Rabbit Hole), is in an enviable position. Not only has he penned book and lyrics for Shrek the Musical (now in previews prior to a Dec. 14 opening at the Broadway Theatre), but also he's been signed to write the "Spider-Man 4" screenplay ("a boy's dream come true") and to adapt his Pulitzer play as a film (for Nicole Kidman's production company, to star Kidman). He says, "I feel very lucky." He's fond of Hollywood mogul Sam Goldwyn's quote: "The harder I work, the luckier I get." Admits the playwright, "Yes, it's a lot of pressure — but 'Hooray!'" I thank him for doing the interview on short notice. "I'm happy to not spend another minute in that theatre." (Welcoming a break from the pressure, answering questions must be preferable to creating dialogue and/or lyrics.)

Of course, he's heard the Larry Gelbart line about Hitler — that, if the dictator's still alive, "He should be sent out of town with a musical in trouble." The writer laughs. "It's more than accurate [although the buzz on Shrek does not indicate trouble]."

Signed as book writer, "It was [composer] Jeanine Tesori who suggested I write the lyrics. Dreamworks was willing to give it a try. I wrote a couple of songs with Jeanine, and they liked them. That's how I became a lyricist."

Which lyricists does he admire? "Of course, Stephen Sondheim, who's astounding, but I learned a great deal from watching Amanda Green write lyrics for High Fidelity [his short-lived debut as librettist]."

Shrek challenges included "being loyal to the source material, but figuring out how to make it our own, and having Shrek sing. He's closed off to the world, unwilling to share emotions. Musicals crack open a character's heart. Emotionally and psychologically, Shrek has a lot going on, but how to show that truthfully, without being corny, took awhile. When Brian d'Arcy James came aboard, we figured it out. Brian reads a line and things fall into place."

Boston born-and-bred, Lindsay-Abaire comes from "a blue-collar family. My mother worked in a factory; my father in the Chelsea fruit market." How did he become interested in writing? "I did a lot of plays in high school, primarily as an actor. In the school I went to, every ninth-grade class did a musical. We did The History of the American Film [on Broadway for 21 performances in 1978], by Christopher Durang, who became my teacher at Juilliard.

"In the next grade, someone said, 'We should do a tenth-grade musical.' A friend said that it should be an original — and that I should write it, because I was the funny one. That's how I became a playwright."

He wrote musicals the next three grades. "I kept writing plays, not knowing I was going to be a playwright. I went to Sarah Lawrence, primarily as an actor, but I kept taking [writing] classes. When I got into Juilliard [studying writing under Chris Durang and Marsha Norman], I thought, 'Maybe this is going to work out.'"

Writing influences include John Guare, Edward Albee, Georges Feydeau, Eugene Ionesco, George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. "Their work mixes a lot of tones." Among movies he admires are "My Man Godfrey" and "Twentieth Century," Abbott and Costello, the Marx Brothers, [Frank] Capra, "and anything by Preston Sturges. Their tones are what I try to achieve in my work.

"Rabbit Hole is a serious drama, with comedy in it. I think it works because of the humor. Even Shrek has something deep at its heart. Yes, there's a funny donkey and scary dragon, but it's about an ogre and a princess [played by Sutton Foster, "who's astounding"]. Both have been told they are one thing when inside they feel they're something else. The characters are searching for friendship, for love. Nothing's goofy about that."

During his years at Sarah Lawrence, he met his wife, Chris Lindsay-Abaire, who's "an actress and also a post-partum doula, someone who goes into the home and helps parents adjust to their newborn. My wife and I took each other's names. She was Christine Lindsay, I was David Abaire." Both use the hyphenated name Lindsay-Abaire.

Manhattan Theatre Club presented four of his plays — Fuddy Meers, Wonder of the World, Kimberly Akimbo, and (on Broadway) Rabbit Hole. "Sam Raimi ["Spider-Man" director] told me that Rabbit Hole was the reason I got 'Spider-Man 4.' Who knew?

"Spider-Man's like many of my characters — an outsider in search of clarity. That's a theme running through my work." Lindsay-Abaire happily reports that "following the musical and the movie, I've been commissioned by Manhattan Theatre Club to write a new play. I have to get back to that."

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Elizabeth Ashley
photo by Joan Marcus

Between shows on a Wednesday, Elizabeth Ashley, whose smoky voice is two parts Tallulah, one part Stritch, speaks via telephone from the Booth Theatre, where she stars in Horton Foote's Dividing the Estate and shares a dressing room with Penny Fuller, "one of my dearest, closest friends," who plays her daughter. Ashley was succeeded by Fuller in Barefoot in the Park (44 years ago). "Penny's one of the best people who ever walked the face of the earth, and an absolutely brilliant actress. We're like family, but as opposite as two women can be.

"She's chic; I'm sort of a mechanic. My dressing room usually looks like a place you go for a valve-and-lube job. Stagehands come to me, 'cause I'll have a Number-5 drill. Lovely little glass things adorn Penny's dressing table.

"Penny's probably at a chic brunch; I just finished a roast beef sandwich. I'm on the floor, on a ratty yoga mat and ratty quilt, surrounded by my script, notes, trash can, and laptop. Broadway glamour, man."

Seen Off-Broadway (with the same cast) in 2007, Foote's play has been transferred by Lincoln Center Theater (and opens Nov. 20). "It's rare to get to explore a play more deeply," observes Ashley. "We have a wonderful new set, better wigs and costumes. I don't think I've ever in my life been with a greater ensemble. Not a weak link in it. You don't see many plays, these days, with 13 people. I love playing with Hallie Foote [the playwright's daughter]. The character she plays and the way she plays it is just wonderful.

"Working with Horton has been a great privilege. I haven't been in a play in years that audiences love as much. There are challenges, specific tasks that, as an actor, I must fulfill. I convincingly have to be her age. [Matriarch Stella is 83]. I'm 69. I thought: What would I be like at that age, and in her condition?"

Theatricality and truth form the fabric of her fiber — on the stage or off. A unique survivor, who "hates pomposity more than anything," she's dedicated to her craft. "One of the things I really love about being on the stage is that it's a discovery. I don't wake up and say, 'I'm going to discover something today' — and I tend to avoid people who do. It's subliminal. I believe faithfully that the life that's inside the actor is what communicates viscerally to the audience. A new, true moment has to happen — for the first time — every night."

She has a history with Michael Wilson, the Dividing the Estate director. "It's the happiest collaboration of my life! [They've worked together on several plays, many by her close friend, Tennessee Williams.] I'm a good first mate. The writer builds the ship and the director is captain. I can argue with the captain about navigation or whatever, but the bottom line is that Michael's the captain. He's really great — and makes it a joy!"

Unable to discuss all the plays in which she's appeared, I ask the gifted actress to share recollections of some of them. She graciously agrees.

Take Her, She's Mine (1961, Tony Award): "I use the term a lot, but it was like being kissed on the butt by God. I was a rookie, wet behind the ears. To fall into George Abbott's hands, and play opposite Art Carney — trust me, you're never going to get that lucky again."

Barefoot in the Park (1963, Tony nomination): "Kissed on the butt by God, a second time. Doc [Neil] Simon wrote it for me, and it was Mike Nichols' first directing job. I adored Millie Natwick [who played her mother]."

Ring Around the Bathtub (1972): "That was after I made some movies, married a bunch of people, and quit the business [a first time]. Right off, I said, 'Change the title.' Did they listen? [Laughs]"

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1974, Tony nomination): "A third kiss on the butt.... They say there are no second acts in life. Well, I got one. And 30 years after playing Maggie, I was Big Mama."

Caesar and Cleopatra (1977, Opposite Rex Harrison): "I got to play the Palace. What can I say?"

Agnes of God (1982): "Extraordinary! Ahead of its time, ripe to be revived. I got to work with Geraldine Page, one of my idols. That's like going into the ring with Muhammad Ali. No matter what you do, you'll get better."

Though born in Ocala, FL, Ashley grew up in Louisiana. "My mother divorced my father and put a few states between them. I'd get shipped off to Florida, in the summer, to spend time with my father and his family. You reinvent yourself for every situation — in order to survive."

An "under-five" [lines] part brought Ashley to Broadway. "The Highest Tree, by Dore Schary [who also directed] was trying out in Philadelphia. Barbara Loden, who later married [Elia] Kazan, was playing the role, but Kazan wanted her to be in [his movie] 'Wild River,' with Lee Remick and Monty Clift. I'd done a small part, the previous summer, at the Neighborhood Playhouse, in a play for the Theatre Guild. They remembered me, and they needed me overnight. I had to join Equity. There was already an Elizabeth Cole [her birth name]. I chose Ayer, my mother's maiden name. Someone had that, too. Ashleigh was a branch of my mother's family — and I changed the spelling."

Mention of two early (seemingly forgotten) understudy stints — in the Broadway comedies Roman Candle and Mary, Mary - causes Ashley to shriek. "Oh, my God, yes! Jesus! [Laughs]"

For Take Her, She's Mine, I note, she won Tony and Theatre World Awards. "Did I? I guess. There was also the 'too much, too soon' downside. It's better than being prom queen, then suddenly you're being shot through the cellars of hell. It's high as you fly, low as you go." In 1978, she published a no-holds-barred memoir, "Actress: Postcards from the Road," that's definitely worth the read.

"Only 'The Carpetbaggers' and 'Ship of Fools' are worth mentioning," says Ashley, of her movies, "but that was a thousand years ago." Fond memories of Johnny Carson remain: "A genius, one of the most graceful, kindest, intelligent, brilliant people that you'll ever run across. All you had to do was let Johnny lead you, and you would be funnier, smarter, more original than you would ever be again."

"Evening Shade" was her only TV series. "Working with Ossie Davis, Charlie Durning, Michael Jeter, and Burt Reynolds [for 78 episodes, 1990-94] — it doesn't get any better."

Is there a role that's given her the most satisfaction? "Sweet Bird of Youth — that's an extraordinary character [Alexandra Del Lago/Princess Kosmonopolis]. The great Michael Kahn directed that, and I played opposite the great Michael Hayden.

"I'd seen Geraldine Page play her, my first time in New York, I also saw Kim Stanley in Far Country. Those [performances] cooked me, man. I didn't know what that was, but whatever that was, my life's ambition, if possible, was to be some teeny, tiny part of that."

"You've succeeded," I tell her. Replies Ashley, "You think? I don't know." Before signing off with a "Happy trails, darling" and holding court while once again Dividing the Estate, she gives another hand to Foote.

"Horton's a great writer, a thousand years old, but sharp as a tack. He has generosity of spirit — as a man, an artist, and a friend. I feel very fortunate to be in this play. I know — that doesn't sound like me, 'cause I have a heart that's like a wad of coal."

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Mitzi Gaynor
photo by Green Isle, Inc.

Probably best-remembered as Nellie Forbush in the movie "South Pacific," a mere 50 years ago, ritzy, glitzy Mitzi Gaynor has a (City Lights) DVD, "Razzle Dazzle! The Special Years" being released Nov. 18. Featured are highlights from eight TV specials, in which the red-haired dancer-singer-actress starred, between 1968 and '78. Says Gaynor "You don't see shows like that any more. Every one was like a motion picture, gorgeously photographed." Not only does Gaynor remind audiences of her talent, but also delightfully introduces it to younger generations.

"I worked with the best choreographers, the best directors. My husband produced them. He was a very, very fine producer — and I miss him desperately." She was Mrs. Jack Bean for 52 years, from 1954 until his 2006 death. "Nov. 18, the release day for the DVD, is the date we were married."

First shown on WLIW (Ch. 21), Long Island's PBS station, it airs nationwide on PBS in December (check local listings). It may be seen again on WLIW (Nov. 30, 9 PM; Dec. 2, 1 PM; Dec. 4, 11:30 PM; and Dec. 6, 7:30 PM – all ET). The documentary includes comments from Gaynor, Kelli O'Hara, Kristin Chenoweth, Carl Reiner, Bob Mackie, and others. Gaynor dances, sings, and does comedy (including "the Kid" and a late-night movie spoof). Among the exclusive 20-minute bonus material featured on the DVD offered by PBS are performances of "Everybody Loves My Baby" and "Camptown Races"/"Waiting for the Robert E. Lee."

Chicago-born Francesca Mitzi Marlene De Charney von Gerber ("Put in all the names that you want," she jokes) made her debut, at age three, in a recital by her mother, an exhibition ballroom dancer. (Dad played the cello.)

Moving with her family to Detroit, by age nine, the youngster was determined to be a dancer. When her instructor moved to L.A., young Mitzi (accompanied by mother and aunt) followed in her (fancy) footsteps.

As a teen, Mitzi Gerber appeared in productions of Song Without Words and Roberta. With the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera, she did The Fortune Teller.

That production transferred to Broadway under the title Gypsy Lady, where it opened in September 1946, with music by Victor Herbert, lyrics by (Robert) Wright and (George) Forrest (the latter team also directing).

Back at the Civic Light Opera, she played roles in Naughty Marietta and The Great Waltz. At the time Gaynor was offered a Fox movie contract, she and David Wayne had auditioned for Cole Porter's 1950 musical Out of This World. "We had to decide between doing the show, or filming 'My Blue Heaven.' [Jokingly, in a grande-dame manner:] We decided to be movie stars, dah-ling. [Laughs]"

Gaynor was considered as Ado Annie in "Oklahoma!"; however, Fox refused to loan her out, and Gloria Grahame played the "I Cain't Say No" gal. (Rodgers and Hammerstein had also considered Gaynor for a Broadway revival of Annie Get Your Gun, but that never materialized.) She rejected "The Best Things in Life Are Free" (which went to Sheree North), and was the original choice for Marilyn Monroe's part in "Some Like It Hot."

Recalls Gaynor, "Billy Wilder said he wanted me to do the picture. First, it was going to be opposite Bob Hope and Danny Kaye. Bob wouldn't have been a good idea, because he would have brought in his gag writers. Then it was going to be Frank Sinatra and someone and me. If it turned out to be anyone else but who did it, the picture wouldn't have been the same. I think it's just perfect the way it is."

Completing her contract with the L.A. Civic Light Opera, Gaynor appeared in Jollyanna, an early 1950s reworked version of Flahooley (the short-lived musical that marked Barbara Cook's Broadway debut). The Jollyanna star was Bobby Clark, whom Gaynor recalls as "darling."

From 1950 to 1963, the newly named Mitzi Gaynor made 17 movies, starring in all but the first ("My Blue Heaven"). "I've been so lucky, Michael, because I've never worked with a stinker. None had attitude. If any had a little, at the beginning, I'd say, 'Get over yourself, Mary.' I can't stand pretentiousness."

Gaynor has fond memories of some of the talents with whom she appeared onscreen.

Betty Grable ("My Blue Heaven," 1950): "My favorite movie star of all time. I used to follow her all over the set. Finally, she said, 'Please don't follow me.' I said, 'But I love you, Miss Grable.' [Laughs]"

Dan Dailey (her romantic interest in "My Blue Heaven"; her father in "There's No Business Like Show Business," 1954): "I loved Dan."

James Barton (her father in "Golden Girl," 1951): "He was wonderful! He and his wife and I would have lunch at the Fox commissary. He'd tell great stories about when he was in The Ziegfeld Follies. We did a chair dance together, and Jim did a solo, with cartwheels."

David Niven (father in "The Birds and the Bees," a 1956 remake of "The Lady Eve"; husband in "Happy Anniversary," a 1959 film based on Anniversary Waltz): "David was a man's man and a woman's man — one of the most amusing people I've ever known."

Ethel Merman ("There's No Business..."): "I played her daughter. She used to call me 'Mitzelah'; I called her 'Mom.'" (Merman teams with Gaynor for Irving Berlin's "A Sailor's Not a Sailor Till a Sailor's Been Tattooed.")

Donald O'Connor ("There's No Business...," "Anything Goes," 1956, two episodes of his 1954-55 TV series): "My darling, darling Donald. I adored him. He was very Irish and very complicated. He was unsung, and should have gotten more credit. Donald was the best dancer I worked with."

Bing Crosby ("Anything Goes"): "Bing called me 'Brookie.' I said, 'What does that mean?' He said, 'When you walk away, your little fanny looks like a brook trout going upstream.'"

Gene Kelly ("Les Girls," 1957): "I said, 'I'm really tired.' He said, 'You can't be.' I said, 'Arrivederci, alligatore.' Gene said, 'What does that mean?' I said, 'See you later, alligator.' We just fell in love."

Frank Sinatra ("The Joker Is Wild," 1957, in which she played Martha Stewart, but not that one; two TV specials): "Frank helped me to get 'South Pacific.' He gave me time off to audition for Oscar Hammerstein."

Yul Brynner ("Surprise Package," 1960): "The king! Enough said."

Noel Coward ("Surprise Package"): "What a dear! He arrived at the studio: 'Have no fear, Noel is here. Ah, you must be Mitzi.' I said, 'Ah, you must be You.'"

Kirk Douglas ("For Love or Money," 1963): "A nice man, but we were doing a comedy, and Kirk's sense of humor is non-existent."

Thelma Ritter ("For Love or Money"): "One of my all-time favorites. She was like a school of acting. Her timing was absolutely brilliant!"

Among her movies, she claims, "My favorite was 'Golden Girl,' my first starring role. It meant a great deal to me. The cast [including Dale Robertson as her Confederate spy-love interest, and Dennis Day] was wonderful, and we had a great director, Lloyd Bacon." She played the real-life Lotta Crabtree, a mid-19th-century entertainer, and at the end delivers a stirring rendition of "Dixie."

Her "most important movie," however, was "South Pacific." She won the role of Nellie over such stalwart competition as Doris Day, Elizabeth Taylor and Susan Hayward.

Declares Gaynor, "I was the right one. I had [theatre] experience. That was important — and I could sing in the same keys Mary Martin sang in." She considered co-star Rossano Brazzi (Emile de Becque), "The most beautiful, sexiest Latin lover who ever lived. I told him that. Rossano said, 'I know.' Ray Walston [Luther Billis] was a darling. I think our scenes were really good. John Kerr [Lt. Joe Cable] was lovely, very reserved, which is good for that character. He became a lawyer [in real life]."

Following "For Love or Money" (1963), Gaynor left the screen, and was quoted, "I have no desire to do films any more." Instead, she turned to TV and concert appearances. Preceding the (DVD) specials, she performed on several television variety shows, including a 1964 unprecedented 15-minute guest appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show," headlining the same night that American audiences were introduced to an upcoming British group called The Beatles. At the 1966 Academy Awards ceremony, Gaynor and the Ernie Flatt Dancers did a showstopping "Georgy Girl" (an Oscar-nominated song, with lyrics, incidentally, by Jim Dale).

Starting at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, in 1961, Gaynor began doing her acclaimed nightclub and concert appearances. New versions were created each year; she toured four months a year, for decades. During the 1989-90 season, she received raves for an 11-month, 36-city tour, starring as Reno Sweeney in Cole Porter's Anything Goes.

Recently, while in New York, Gaynor saw the current South Pacific revival. "I wish our movie was as good. Kelli's so tiny — and Paolo, oh, Paolo! [References, of course, to Kelli O'Hara and Paolo Szot.] Danny Burstein as Billis is so funny. It's a fabulous production!"

Rehearsals are underway for what promises to be another fabulous production, "A tour of a new Mitzi Gaynor show that opens in San Francisco, in January. I have eight [Bob Mackie] costume changes, and while I'm changing, audiences will see scenes from 'Mitzi Gaynor: Razzle Dazzle! The Special Years.'" Welcome back, Ms. G!

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Various and Sundry

Nathan Lane guest stars on FOX-TV's Nov. 19 "'Til Death", playing the brother of series star Brad Garrett, his Odd Couple colleague.

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Come January, Pulitzer Prize winner (The Young Man from Atlanta) Horton Foote — currently represented by Dividing the Estate and who turns 93 in March — celebrates the 70th anniversary of his Broadway debut (as playwright-actor). We thank the (true) gentleman for providing audiences with many trips to bountiful characters and situations, on stages and screens.

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Comedian-actor-playwright Steve Martin guest stars Nov. 20 on NBC's Emmy-winning "30 Rock".

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Upcoming guest stars on "Law & Order: SVU": Nov. 18, rapper Antwan Andre Patton (aka Big Boi of Outkast) and Carlos Leon (whose off-screen credits include dad to Madonna's first child); Nov. 25, Mike Farrell ("M*A*S*H"), two-time Oscar nominee Brenda Blethyn, A Chorus Line Tony winner Kelly Bishop (who went by Carole, not Kelly, as Sheila), and Peter Hermann (husband of series star Mariska Hargitay).

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Filmmaker Steve Anderson will release a film of Mike Daisey's latest monologue If You See Something Say Something, which is currently playing Joe's Pub.

Peabody award-winning filmmaker Anderson, who wrote and directed the feature film "The Big Empty" as well as the documentary film "F---," is currently filming the solo-actor piece for a future release. "With his signature style commentary, at once biting and hilarious, Daisey investigates the secret history of the Department of Homeland Security through the untold story of the father of the neutron bomb and a personal pilgrimage to the Trinity blast site," according to The Public Theater. "If You See Something Say Something takes us on a journey in search of what it means to be secure and the price we are willing to pay for it." It plays through Nov. 30 at Joe's Pub.

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Stage to Screens is Playbill.com's monthly column that connects the dots between theatre, film and television projects and people. Contact Michael Buckley at stagetoscreens@aol.com.