PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Feb. 22-28: Audra McDonald to Play Billie Holiday and Behind-the-Scenes Drama With Annie Tour

By Robert Simonson
28 Feb 2014

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Rosemary Harris
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

The new Off-Broadway staging of Tom Stoppard's romantic drama Indian Ink will have a nice anchor in the form of seasoned stage star Rosemary Harris. She will take the role of Eleanor Swan in the Roundabout Theatre Company production.

As previously reported, Stoppard's Indian Ink will be directed by Carey Perloff (artistic director of A.C.T. in San Francisco). Performances will begin Sept. 4, prior to an official opening Sept. 28, at the Laura Pels Theatre.

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How can a rag like The National Enquirer, usually the bane of every celebrity's existence, end up being the perpetrator of an artistic good? 

You can thank for that odd circumstance the late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman — at least, in a sidelong way. This week, David Bar Katz, a playwright and friend of Hoffman, announced the formation of a foundation that will give out an annual prize of $45,000 for an unproduced play. The prize, which will be called the Relentless Award, is formed in memory of Hoffman's determination to achieve artistic truth.

Like most playwrights, Katz is not independent wealthy. The money that fuels the new award comes from the Enquirer, and the story behind why a tabloid would cough up such dough for a wholly altruistic cause is one of the strangest in the annals of showbiz history. Katz was one of the first people to find Hoffman's body after he succumbed to an overdose of heroine. The Enquirer published a false interview stating that Katz and Hoffman were lovers and had taken cocaine together the night before his death. The article also reported that Katz said he had seen Hoffman using heroin repeatedly.

The New York Times reports that Katz had never spoken to The National Enquirer, nor had he witnessed Hoffman using drugs in his presence; instead, he said he had communicated with Hoffman frequently about his addiction and determination to remain sober.

Katz filed a libel suit shortly after the publication of the story, and The Enquirer withdrew the article and apologized within two days. As part of a settlement of the lawsuit, the foundation and Relentless Award are being paid for by The Enquirer and its publisher, American Media Incorporated. The agreement also stipulated that The Enquirer buy a full-page advertisement in the main news section of The New York Times that ran Feb. 26.

Katz did not receive or seek any personal payments following the publication of the article and instead sought to find a settlement that would be meaningful to Hoffman. The selection committee for the Relentless Award will include Katz, Eric Bogosian, John Patrick Shanley and Jonathan Marc Sherman.