Christine Baranski, who earned an Emmy as Cybill Shepherd's boozin' buddy on TV's late "Cybill" series, has returned to her theatrical roots -- with a vengeance -- jumping in with both feet to do a couple of stage readings that are angling for future productions. One is a Roundabout run-thourgh of The Mineola Twins, a new play by Paula Vogel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of How I Learned To Drive. The other occurred May 19 at the Westside Theatre -- a reading, supervised by Andre Ernotte, of Pandora's Penthouse by Mark Hampton, who co-authored the Diana Vreeland opus, Full Gallop. Baranski played Jacqueline Susann at the time of her cancer diagnosis, attempting to write a children's book called "Pandora's Penthouse." Jonathan Hadary essayed her husband, Irving Mansfield, and Virginia Graham appeared as Susann's mother.
Reaction to the piece was strong, but a production would have to be immediate, as another version of the late novelist's life and death is currently before the movie cameras in Canada. Nathan Lane, Baranski's brother in Lips Together, Teeth Apart, is playing Mansfield to Bette Midler's Susann in the Paul Rudnick-scripted, Andrew Bergman-directed Isn't She Great? It will probably be released before year's end.
-- By Harry Haun