The Millennium Approaches Anew: HBO Airs Kushner's Angels in America, Dec. 7

News   The Millennium Approaches Anew: HBO Airs Kushner's Angels in America, Dec. 7 The messenger has arrived as Angels in America, the Tony Kushner epic saga, debuts on HBO. The playwright's screen adaptation is directed by Mike Nichols and stars Al Pacino, Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson.
Justin Kirk as Prior in Angels in America
Justin Kirk as Prior in Angels in America Photo by Stephen Goldblatt/HBO

The six-hour drama will air in two parts with the first three chapters playing Dec. 7 at 8 PM (ET). The second half is set to air Dec. 14 at 8 PM (ET). 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. 8 (8 PM), Dec. 11 (10 PM) and Dec. 22 (11 PM)
Chapter 2 "In Vitro" - Dec. 9 (8 PM), Dec. 12 (10 PM) and Dec. 22 (12:10 AM)
Chapter 3 "The Messenger" - Dec. 10 (8 PM), Dec. 13 (10 PM) and 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)

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

Al Pacino as Roy Cohn in <i>Angels in America</i>
Al Pacino as Roy Cohn in Angels in America Photo by Stephen Goldblatt/HBO
Today’s Most Popular News: