James Earl Jones Will Be Mr. President in Broadway's The Best Man

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24 Feb 2011

James Earl Jones
James Earl Jones
Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Tony Award winner James Earl Jones has been picked to play the former President of the United States in the upcoming Broadway revival of Gore Vidal's The Best Man.

Jones, whose Tonys were earned in Fences and The Great White Hope, is currently starring in Driving Miss Daisy on Broadway. As previously reported, The Best Man will be produced on Broadway in spring 2012. News of Jones' casting first surfaced in The New York Times.

Jones will play an ex-president whose endorsement of candidates is part of the plot of the political drama. Charles Durning played former president Hockstader in the 2000 revival.

The 1960 play about a contentious election, varied candidates and rocky marriages was revived by producer Jeffrey Richards in 2000, under the title Gore Vidal's The Best Man, in the season when George W. Bush and Al Gore were running against each other for the job of U.S. President.

Richards will reunite with his 2000 producers, Jerry Frankel, Michael B. Rothfeld and Darren Bagert.



Michael Wilson (Off-Broadway's current The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore, The Orphans' Home Cycle) will direct. Casting and more production information will be announced later.

The Best Man originally ran on Broadway in March 1960 and was nominated for six Tony Awards including Best Play. Melvyn Douglas, portraying candidate William Russell, a former secretary of state, won the Tony Award for his work. The production ran for 521 performances.

Gore Vidal's The Best Man last played on Broadway in fall 2000 starring Elizabeth Ashley, Charles Durning, Christine Ebersole, Spalding Gray, Michael Learned, Chris Noth, Mark Blum, Jonathan Hadary and Jordan Lage. The production was honored with the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Outstanding Revival of a Play.

Producer Richards, a longtime theatrical press agent, made his debut as a Broadway producer with the 2000 revival of Gore Vidal's The Best Man.

Vidal is a novelist, essayist, playwright and screenwriter whose work includes the novels "The City and the Pillar," "Burr," "1876," "Lincoln," "Hollywood," "The Golden Age," "The Judgement of Paris," "Messiah," "Julian," "Washington, D.C.," "Myra Breckinridge" and "Duluth"; the memoirs "Screening History" and "Palimpsest"; the plays Visit to a Small Planet, Romulus, Weekend and An Evening with Richard Nixon. He also wrote the screenplays for "Suddenly, Last Summer"; "The Best Man" and "Is Paris Burning?"