The Great Work Begins: Second Half of Kushner's Angels in America Airs on HBO, Dec. 14

News   The Great Work Begins: Second Half of Kushner's Angels in America Airs on HBO, Dec. 14 The final three chapters of Angels in America, the Tony Kushner epic saga, debut on HBO, Dec. 14. Mike Nichols directs the playwright's screen adaptation starring Al Pacino, Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson.
Jeffrey Wright in Angels in America
Jeffrey Wright in Angels in America Photo by Stephen Goldblatt/HBO

The second half of the six-hour drama is set to air Dec. 14 at 8 PM (ET). The first part — which brought in 4.2 million viewers — debuted Dec. 7. Check your local listings.

A male quartet of stage performers — Patrick Wilson (Oklahoma!), Ben Shenkman (Proof), Justin Kirk (Love! Valour! Compassion!) and original Broadway cast member Jeffrey Wright (Topdog/ Underdog) — are joined in the cast by Mary-Louise Parker (Proof).

James Cromwell, Michael Gambon and Simon Callow are also featured in the film. Streep, Thompson, Wright and Kirk perform multiple roles.

The drama interweaves the stories of a gay couple split apart by AIDS; a Mormon couple separated by their secret fantasies; and a legendary lawyer fading into history. It is set against the backdrop of New York City in 1985 — a time made apparent by a scene which reveals the pre-9/11 Manhattan skyline. The "gay fantasia" includes mystical sequences — executed more simply on film than on stage — filled with ghosts of ancestors and accused spy Ethel Rosenberg, a trip through a refrigerator to Antarctica and, of course, a visit from an angel.

Kushner's stage works, Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and Angels in America: Perestroika won the Best Play Tony Awards in 1993 and 1994, respectively. The first half also won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. The Broadway cast of Angels in America included Ellen McLaughlin as the Angel, Ron Leibman as Roy Cohn, Stephen Spinella as Prior Walter, Joe Mantello as Louis Ironson, Marcia Gay Harden as Harper Pitt, David Marshall Grant as Joe Pitt, Kathleen Chalfant as Hannah Pitt and Jeffrey Wright in a variety of roles, including the former drag queen Belize.

The screen version of Millennium Approaches is divided into three chapters "Bad News," "In Vitro" and "The Messenger" and Perestroika is also segmented into "Stop Moving," "Beyond Nelly" and "Heaven, I'm in Heaven."

Subsequent airings for individual chapters are as follows: (all times ET - check your local listings)

Chapter 1 "Bad News" - Dec. 22 (11 PM)
Chapter 2 "In Vitro" - Dec. 22 (12:10 AM)
Chapter 3 "The Messenger" - Dec. 23 (11 PM)
Chapter 4 "Stop Moving," - Dec. 15 (8 PM), Dec. 18 (10 PM) and Dec. 29 (11 PM)
Chapter 5 "Beyond Nelly" - Dec. 16 (8 PM), Dec. 19 (10 PM) and Dec. 29 (midnight)
Chapter 6 "Heaven, I'm in Heaven" - Dec. 17 (8 PM), Dec. 20 (10 PM) and Dec. 30 (11 PM)

HBO Signature subscribers can enjoy the screen version in its entirity Jan. 3, 2004 starting at 6 PM.

Further airings (on various HBO networks), interviews with the cast and production photos are available by visiting www.hbo.com/films/angelsinamerica.