PLAYBILL THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, July 14-20: Celeste Holm, Katie Holmes, Matilda's Broadway Home

By Robert Simonson
20 Jul 2012

David Adjmi
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

The owners of the lowbrow 1970s sitcom "Three's Company" care about the integrity of the title? Who knew?

Playwright David Adjmi's comedy 3C, which darkly riffs on "Three's Company," opened Off-Broadway in recent weeks. The reviews were not uniformly good, but the show and its concept got a lot of attention in the press. Maybe too much attention. The writer has now heard from lawyers representing DLT Entertainment, the company that owns the popular television series.

According to a report in the New York Times, Adjmi was contacted by Kenyon & Kenyon, the lawyers representing DLT Entertainment, who sent a cease-and-desist letter citing copyright infringement, listing 17 points of similarity between the play and the sitcom. The now-closed production ran June 6-July 14 at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater.

Apparently, there is in the works another stage adaptation of "Three's Company" — a sincere adaptation, one fears — and DLT felt Adjmi's play was damaging to the property. The correspondence from the lawyers also stated that the Rattlestick production could not be extended past its July 14 closing date, that no future productions could be performed and the script could not be published.

Folks in the theatre community sided with Adjmi, saying that the play fell under the umbrella of parody, which is protected under law. In fact, the legal action may end up being the best thing that ever happened to Adjmi. Previously a little-known writer, he can now count among his advocates the likes of Jon Robin Baitz, Stephen Sondheim, Tony Kushner, Andre Bishop, Joe Mantello, Terrence McNally, Kenneth Lonergan, John Guare, Terry Kinney, Stephen Adly Guirgis and John Patrick Shanley, all of whom pledged their support.


Finally, Celeste Holm died this week. She wasn't the most prolific of stage or film actresses, but what projects she picked helped her achieve the legendary status in show business circles. She was Ado Annie, the gal who cain't say no in Oklahoma!, and Karen Richards, the knowing narrator of the ultimate theatre film "All About Eve." Through those two roles alone, she earned a lasting place in American theatre history.