Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The post-Russell round-up!

Most of you are well aware of this, but for the benefit of our irregular or non-US readers, The Russell Girl starring Jennifer Ehle aired in America on Sunday.

  • Jonathan Storm of The Philadelphia Inquirer considered Ms Ehle's performance to be of 'Emmy-nomination caliber':
[...] Hallmark Hall of Fame's "The Russell Girl," though fictional drama, insightfully explores gripping themes of real life. ... Fine acting, particularly from Amber Tamblyn and Jennifer Ehle, breathes life into it... Watch double Tony-winner Ehle... get a supporting-actress Emmy nomination for this gripping performance. [...]
[...] a compelling, superbly acted film about people and the real life that can stomp all over their happily ever after. ... Scribe Jill Blotevogel's teleplay strikes all of the proper melodramatic notes, her dialogue infusing the characters with a stark authenticity. All of the players turn in fine work in a project that deftly shines a light on the humanity of scarred souls [...]
  • Tom Jicha of Freep was much less enthusiastic, but even he noted 'a strong supporting turn by Jennifer Ehle'.

  • In the blogosphere, viewers report being left in a range of emotional states after seeing the show, from the pleasantly tearful to the disappointingly depressed, the drained and lastly the unsatisfied-because-the-news-interrupted-the-ending. Another viewer was torn between Masterpiece's Mansfield Park and The Russell Girl, so gave equal attention to both, describing Ms Ehle in the latter as 'excellent, of course'. (A reminder that Pride and Prejudice will be shown as part of the Masterpiece extravaganza on Sunday February 10, 9-11pm EST on PBS).

  • The Russell Girl has also been credited with causing CBS to win the eyeballs race on Sunday night. Zap2it more specifically note that:
[...] "The Russell Girl" drew an 8.8/14 for CBS at 10 p.m., easily beating NBC's record-breakers, 4.1/7, and a "Brothers & Sisters" rerun, 3.2/5, on ABC. [...]

Luckily, Mediaweek explain it using more digestable figures:

[...] CBS followed up with a special Hallmark Hall of Fame movie The Russell Girl from 9 to 11, which averaged 12.7 million viewers. [...]

Alternatively, see bythenumbers for a more comprehensive channel/program breakdown.

  • Incidentally, residents of Stouffville, Ontario - one of The Russell Girl's filming locations - were reminded to tune in as well to see their town on the small screen.
  • Thankfully, Hallmark will be selling The Russell Girl on DVD from February 1 for $19.98, although it seems that delivery is only available within the US at this point in time. (Thanks to qqazz for letting us know).

In non-Russell news:

  • The ATW's Downstage Center radio interview with Tom Stoppard is now online. Ex-Utopian Richard Easton is also the next scheduled interviewee.
  • Packetonline briefly review Oscar and the Pink Lady starring Rosemary Harris, while the British Telegraph briefly profile the actress as part of their regular feature on cinema's unsung heroes.

  • Also, read a brilliant piece on Sir Tom's travelling habits by the New York Times if you want to see what happens when you cross a suitcase with a library. (Note: I want one!)

  • Lastly, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette describe Utopia director Jack O'Brien's induction into the Theatre Hall of Fame. They also answer a question that has been puzzling me for some time - how old he is. (An unbelievable 68, it turns out!) They also reveal an interesting piece of advice that Mr O'Brien issued to the Utopia cast at the beginning of their project:
[...] In rallying his huge cast for "Utopia," O'Brien told them, "you're going to be together for over six months. You are a group of enormously attractive people. Proceed with caution!" [...]

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Lots of love for Lorraine

The Russell Girl is almost here! Get a head start by watching a short preview at YouTube. Remember that the movie is being broadcast tomorrow - Sunday January 27 at 9/8c on CBS.

I am excited to say that there are loads of reviews with plenty of love for Jennifer Ehle. All of the articles are worth a read, but I'll quote some of the highlights and relevant bits.

  • First up is an article from Time Out New York (thanks to Tez for spotting this one):
  • The Russell Girl may bear the “Hallmark Hall of Fame” imprimatur, but thanks to a pair of impressively raw performances by Amber Tamblyn (Joan of Arcadia) and Tony winner Jennifer Ehle, this unhurried character study often seems more like a film you’d find in the Sundance lineup.


    Ehle shrewdly opts for subtlety in a role that many actors would play as hysteric, resisting the temptation to steal scenes from Tamblyn. The younger actor, meanwhile, makes the most of the material and delivers an extremely convincing portrayal of a young person who lacks the emotional vocabulary to respond to her situation. [...]

  • Thank you to E for letting us know about this article at the Philadelphia Daily News. Here is what it has to say about Ms Ehle's performance:
  • [...] "The Russell Girl" soars where it could have sagged, thanks to performances by Amber Tamblyn and Jennifer Ehle.


    Ehle, now a blonde with more than a passing resemblance to Meryl Streep (not to mention her own mother, Rosemary Harris), gives an equally fine performance as a woman who's been living with a certain level of unhappiness for a very long time, a level that Sarah's return only threatens to increase.

    A romance for Sarah with an old high-school boyfriend (Paul Wesley) feels tacked on, and Mastrantonio and DeKay - who was one of the best things about HBO's "Tell Me You Love Me" - are probably underserved by a script that really belongs to Tamblyn and Ehle.

    While they're onscreen, you might not want to cry too hard, for fear of missing something. [...]

  • E also tipped us off to this article at Courier Post Online, which has awesome quotage from Jennifer Ehle:
  • [...] Something happened years ago that left the neighbor woman embittered toward Sarah. "It's an interesting character," says Jennifer Ehle, who plays the neighbor.

    Their scenes set off a rich contrast. On one side is the young actress, stepping into one of her first grown-up roles; on the other side is Ehle, 38, who already has two Tony awards.

    "Actually, I think Amber has done more work (on camera) than I have," Ehle says.


    Ehle, by comparison, has had sporadic film roles. She's from a theater family; her mother, Rosemary Harris, has been nominated for eight Tony awards, winning once.

    "I think the first time I saw her in theater was 'The Seagull,"' Ehle recalls. "I drew a little notation in the program, every time the subway went by ...

    "I had no idea that most 10-year-old girls didn't see 'The Seagull' and make notations about the subway."

    Ehle is an American, but studied drama in London, in her mother's native land. She's done several of her films there, including a notable one: In 1995, she and Colin Firth starred in a classic, miniseries version of "Pride and Prejudice."

    Still, she's stayed mostly in theater."I spent all of last year in a very close, loving group," Ehle says. "Doing three, three-hour plays for nine or 10 months can be a great experience."

    That was in Tom Stoppard's "The Coast of Utopia." Ehle won her second Tony; the first was for a revival of Stoppard's "The Real Thing," seven years earlier.

    When that finally finished, she was ready for a change of pace. "I was just curious about doing television again," she says. [...]

  • Here is more quotage, this time from the Washington Post:
  • [...] "By working with her hands, Lorraine has found something nurturing to do with her days, which otherwise seem quite empty," said Jennifer Ehle of her character. "She has an emotional wound that she hasn't allowed to heal. Lorraine hasn't known how to do that. And it's high time."

    The two-time Tony Award winner and veteran of theatrical films said she was drawn to the story because "any interesting puzzle that comes along is worth doing."

    "Lorraine was not a picnic to play," Ehle said. "She is in a lot of pain, but I don't blame her. I liked her a lot. She doesn't let anybody in." And Lorraine, with her distant attitude toward Sarah, "is the only one who notices she is sick," Ehle said.

    Tamblyn said she and Ehle discussed how their scenes together, from confrontation to crying, should be staged.

    "When you deal with a story line that involves two different generations of women, you have to be careful," Tamblyn said. "You don't want one of them to be the victim. The question for Jennifer and me was how to play it, how to achieve that subtlety, because it is so dramatic, with a lot of emotions being processed." [...]

  • Robert Bianco of USA Today isn't a fan of Hallmark Hall of Fame movies, but he praises the actors in The Russell Girl, especially Jennifer Ehle:
  • [...] Hallmark has given this substandard script to a terrific group of actors, and they almost rescue it. Tamblyn shows again why she is so missed as a weekly TV presence; Czerny, DeKay and Mastrantonio all shine in underwritten roles. The prize, though, goes to Ehle, who takes a ludicrously inconsistent character and somehow cobbles her together into a human being. [...]
  • This article at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette mentions several interesting details of plot involving Jennifer Ehle's character.

  • Laura Fries of Variety enjoyed the performances in The Russell Girl:
  • [...] On paper, writer Jill Blotevogel's script is standard TV melodrama, but Tamblyn's deeply expressive performance, along with that of Tony-winner Ehle, creates believably heart-wrenching emotions. "The Russell Girl" proves Tamblyn can carry a film. Ehle, bearing an uncanny resemblance to Meryl Streep, is as good onscreen as onstage. [...]

  • And, Rich Heldenfels of concludes:
  • [...] in dealing with the emotions of guilt and grief, the movie does quite well. It is not afraid to use silence as well as words. The cast — which also includes Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Sarah's mother, and Henry Czerny as Lorraine's husband — is expressive. Tamblyn does quite well with the confusion in Sarah, and Tony Award-winner Ehle is extremely good. The Russell Girl touches the heart.

    If The Russell Girl isn't being broadcast in your area, don't despair. It will eventually be released on DVD by Hallmark. We'll let you know when we learn more.

    But, before I go, here are a few items not related to The Russell Girl:

    • There is an absolutely adorable article about Rosemary Harris and her friend "Cuddly" at the George Street Playhouse blog.
    • The New York Times discusses Rosemary Harris and Oscar and the Pink Lady.
    • The Stoppardians out there might be interested to know that Playbill has a Q&A with Sir Tom.
    • There is a Q&A with Before the Rains director Santosh Sivan at Times of India.
    • And finally, the Latina Alternative blog mentions the Pride and Glory soundtrack.

    Have a good weekend everyone, and congrats to those of you who made it to the end of this post!

    Tuesday, January 22, 2008

    Sunday: Russell Day!

    • Firstly, happy thought indeed about the above, courtesy of IMDb (where you can see them a little bigger!)
    [...] New Line has also pushed back Pride and Glory, which stars Edward Norton and Colin Farrell, from March 14 to an undisclosed date in 2009, with the...rationale of a crippled TV ad campaign touted as the primary factor [...]
    The film's official website has yet to comment.
    The Star-Ledger describe Ms Harris as a 'belated Christmas present' and applaud, among other things, her ability to remember and solely deliver 100 minutes worth of material.

    [...] Harris is an octogenarian, and how many people of any age could commit to memory a one-person show? ... just from the way that [she] makes her entrance - clomping onto the stage with an empty box over her head - she shows someone who refuses to grow old. ...

    Harris' portrayal of a 10-year old is consistently smart. She offers the squinty and scrunched-up face of a lad who's trying to understand his fate. She's so accomplished there that an audience could easily overlook her other achievement in making a fully developed "Granny Pink." [...]
    CurtainUp meanwhile describe Ms Harris as 'enchanting' and 'luminous'. (Click here if you are getting deja-vu on the 'luminous'.) They also heap praise onto the actress:
    [...] Harris's spirited performance easily persuades us where the focus should be. ... she uses the space with considerable élan as winningly as she jumps back and forth in conversation between Granny Pink and Oscar, Oscar and various children in the ward and mainly Oscar and God. [...]
    They conclude that despite a few minor faults in the play itself:

    [...] the pleasure of watching a gifted pro...undertake this challenging vehicle offers its own reward. [...]

    • Next, to all Stoppardians. For anyone who had wanted to listen to the aforementioned American Conservatory Theater interview with Carey Perloff, all three parts of the podcast are now working. (Yay!) Alternatively, see Inside Bay Area's article which sums up the both important bits of the interview (talk of adaptating Chekhov's Ivanhov) as well as the less important bits (the fact that Sir Tom was wearing 'vibrant red socks'). Mr Stoppard is also listed as an upcoming interviewee for the ATW's Downstage Center program if you are interested.

    • Also, just a reminder - as if you need it - that it is five days until The Russell Girl. (Sunday, Jan. 27, 9-11pm ET/PT on CBS.) But if you are someone living outside the US, for whom CBS sounds more like something you would go to the doctor with, you are not alone! (Although, hold the melancholy - according to eBay, you may be able to get your hands on the series pretty soon - strangely!)

    • Lastly, for a loosely-related laugh, see this YouTube video by performer Josh Halloway, part of comedy ensemble Movie Geek. If you are not a Lost fan, read the 'About This Video' section on the right-hand side first for clarification. Happy viewing!

    Saturday, January 19, 2008

    Say it isn't so!

    According to Variety, the release date of Pride and Glory has been pushed back from March 14, 2008 to the very precise date of "next year." Christopher Campbell of Cinematical attempts to explain New Line's reasoning for postponing the film (again):

    Here's a strange twist to the writer's strike, and a postponement excuse we haven't heard before: New Line has pushed back Inkheart from March 2008 to January 2009 because of what the strike is doing to the television industry. Huh? According to Variety, the studio figures that without first-run programs on TV, it can't reach enough viewers through commercials, which is apparently the only way to market a movie these days.
    In other release date news, New Line has also pushed back Pride and Glory, which stars Edward Norton and Colin Farrell (which I remember them filming in Brooklyn back in Summer 2005), from March 14 to sometime in 2009, though the reasoning behind this one may have had more to do with Norton and Farrell having other new releases coming out soon, than it had to do with the writer's strike effect on TV ads. [...]
    In an article about Colin Farrell, the Los Angeles Times also mentions the postponement:
    [...] With his recent roles, Colin Farrell -- self-described "lucky man" -- seems himself to be back on track. Next up is the police drama "Pride and Glory" with Edward Norton, which was shot before either "In Bruges" or "Cassandra's Dream" and was recently bumped to a 2009 release date. [...]
    Guess we'll have to wait a while longer if we want to see more than the 0.2 seconds of Jennifer Ehle-footage featured in the Pride and Glory trailer.

    Thank goodness we still have The Russell Girl to look forward to! Speaking of which, Catholic Online has an article about the Hallmark Hall of Fame drama, which will be broadcast in just 7 days (but who's counting?!). *Warning - the article contains many spoilers*

    In other news, Susan C. Ingram of the Community Times discusses many of the films that were shown at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, including Before the Rains.
    [...] 'Before the Rains' (USA/India) had its U.S. debut at the Palm Springs festival. Visually beautiful, the Merchant/Ivory production sets the taboo love story of an English planter and his Indian house servant amid the 1930s uprising against British colonialism. The love story sets in action a string of events that puts the nearby village, the planter’s family and his Indian colleague in turmoil. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t imbue enough passion or detail into either story and doesn’t reach its dramatic potential. [...]
    In theater news, Jennifer Ehle's mum, Rosemary Harris, will be taking part in the newly created Flying Swan Acting Intensive. According to Playbill:
    Academy Award nominee Marsha Mason, in conjunction with Connecticut's Wesleyan University, has created a new intensive for young actors slated to begin this summer.

    The four-week summer intensive, scheduled to run June 26-July 28 on the Wesleyan campus, is geared for actors ages 16-20 with classes ranging from audition technique, acting for the musical theatre and improvisation to modern American drama and Shakespeare.

    As president, Mason will lead the program in partnership with British Academy of Dramatic Arts founder Tony Branch, who will serve as executive director. Guest speakers and faculty currently scheduled to participate include Joe Olivieri, Penny Cherns, James Goodwin, Nancy Keystone, Gary Kline and Henry Goodman, as well as special guests Brian Cox, Fiona Shaw, Rosemary Harris, Michael Cristofer, Jack O'Brien and Paul Rudd. [...]
    Visit for more information about the program.

    There is also a great interview with Rosemary Harris in the Star-Ledger, in which she talks about her performance in Oscar and the Pink Lady.

    Here is a sampling of the Q & A's:

    Q. Whom do you portray?

    A. I'm a volunteer who comes to a hospital and plays with the ill children there. Because I'm an older woman dressed in pink, they call me "Granny Pink." I become attached to a 10-year-old named Oscar, who's overheard the doctor tell his parents he's terminally ill. They can't face it, and run away, so I stand in for them. I tell him, "They're not afraid of you, they're afraid of the disease." He answers, "But my disease is a part of me." He's a very bright boy.

    Q. But isn't it a one-person show?

    A. Yes, and you know, I didn't even realize that when I got the script three years ago, before I did it in San Diego. It had a marvelous part for the old lady, but I wondered how they could ever cast the boy. Then I was told, "No, you'd play both" -- and I gulped. But Danielle Darrieux did (this play) in Paris when she was 86, so I decided, if she can do it, so can I. What also gave me
    courage is that it's in the form of letters. I figured, if worse came to worse, I could just read them.

    Q. Reading letters from a desk has become acceptable in today's theater, hasn't it?

    A. Yes, but then I found the lighting was so dim that I wouldn't be able to read. I could just see me losing my place, walking over into a light pool, muttering "Now where am I?" as I flipped through pages. So I just memorized it. [More]

    Lastly, just a reminder that Masterpiece Theater's The Complete Jane Austen will continue on Sunday evening with Andrew Davies' new production of Northanger Abbey. You can read about it at the Boston Globe. Happy viewing Austen fans!

    Wednesday, January 16, 2008

    The Return of the Pink Lady!

    • Most importantly, Oscar and the Pink Lady starring Rosemary Harris began previews at the George Street Playhouse yesterday, January 15. It opens on January 18 and will run until February 10. We highly recommend you go and see this if you are in the New Brunswick vicinity! (And feel free to send us your thoughts on the play if you do!)

    The Playhouse describe the play as:

    [...] a remarkable tour-de-force performance! Set in a Children’s Hospital, this funny, touching and ultimately life affirming production is a testament to the human spirit and a celebration of the compassionate calling of those who work and volunteer in our hospitals and healthcare facilities. [...]

    The GSP also have a nice little blog! Their latest post by Scott Goldman reports on all the important goings-on prior to yesterday's curtain-up:

    [...] This past Sunday, Rosemary Harris had her final dress rehearsal for Oscar and the Pink Lady. What a treat it is to see this amazing actress fluidly move to play so many characters. In attendance were the tech staff (who have been working so hard to put this show up with just TWO WEEKS!), select members of the staff, and Ms. Harris' husband John Ehle (their daughter is Tony Award Winner Jennifer Ehle from The Coast of Utopia). As the director Frank Dunlop noted, it was the first time they were going to attempt running the show without stopping. Much has changed since their run in San Diego. The show was formerly in the round, keeping Ms. Harris moving all the time. Now at GSP, she's tailored her movement and facial expressions, making it all the more nuanced. Midway through the transformation has completely taken hold, and she comes so believable as a 10 year old boy it's truly astonishing. At the final moment of the show, there was barely a dry eye in the house. [...]

    Their previous post of January 7 was also all about the life of Pink Lady director Frank Dunlop if you are interested.

    Ticket information given by Playbill is as follows:

    [...] George Street Playhouse is located in New Brunswick, NJ. Tickets, priced $28-$62, are available by calling (732) 246-7717. For more information visit [...]

    Yes, so go see the play if you can! The Playhouse put it a bit more eloquently:

    [...] There's an elegant simplicity to the show that is just so moving, it's hard to explain, so you'll just have to get out here and see it! [...]
    • Whilst discussing the latest in the music world meanwhile, Hotpress slip in that:
    [...] an earlier Pugwash track, ‘Anyone Who Asks’, appears on the soundtrack to the new Ed Norton and Jon Voight movie, Pride And Glory, which is released on March 14. [...]

    ....although this appears to be the only mention of a soundtrack at present.

    • The Desert Sun, meanwhile briefly mentions the screening of Before the Rains at the PSIFF last Friday and Saturday:

    [...] The film from India, "Before the Rains" was one of the most highly acclaimed films in the festival's largest programming section called "World Cinema Now" which included 77 new films from 38 countries.

    The film, set during India's years of change - the late 1930's - premiered Friday night to rave reviews and was followed by a lavish gala at Palm Springs' hot new Tropicale Restaurant. [...]

    • There continues to be a sea of articles relating to the Complete Jane Austen, the best of which being the New Yorker's which is a very nice read. They consider Pride and Prejudice to be 'especially well done...marked by good taste and exquisite restraint' and insist that by the end, 'you’ll be ripping your own bodice.' The guys at are particular 1995 version fans, considering it 'unlikely ever to be surpassed' and attributing it with 'starting the current Austen craze'. Other pieces come from The Washington Times, inRich, the Clarion Ledger, the Orlando Sentinel, and the Buffalo News - the latter describing Ms Ehle's performance as 'splendid'.

    • Finally, a Coast of Utopia reader has reviewed the New York edition of the book on Amazon. Describing the book as 'challenging and enthralling', she says:

    [...] This is what a play should be. Coast is challenging, engaging and demanding but in a way that leaves you wanting more. Stoppard has the highest respect for his audiences, a good thing, in this day of pandering to the lowest common denominator. Although he's been accused of didacticism, Stoppard leavens the heaviness with good doses of humor, not unlike G.B. Shaw. If you didn't get a chance to see the play performed, read it at the very least. [...]

    Saturday, January 12, 2008

    More news of Lorainne, 'Rains,' and Jane now has a page dedicated to The Russell Girl (which will be broadcast on Jan 27). Here is how they describe the movie:

    Everyone in Sarah Russell’s small hometown knows her story, but no one is talking about it. Sarah, the picture-perfect girl-next-door, took a job in Chicago thinking she could escape memories of a tragic accident she blames on herself. But when she receives some unsettling news, Sarah decides to return home and try to heal old wounds.

    As understanding and support come from unexpected sources, Sarah’s story becomes a journey toward forgiveness and hope for the future.

    You can also watch a preview of the movie by clicking on the link at the bottom of the synopsis. (Every time I try to watch it, I get a message saying that is temporarily unavailable, but hopefully it will be working by the time you read this!)

    You can also enter the Hallmark Hall of Fame Sweepstakes for the chance to win a copy of The Russell Girl on DVD:
    [...] Our two grand prize winners will each receive a Hallmark Gold Crown® Collector's Edition DVD of The Russell Girl and a The Russell Girl crew shirt. Ten runner-up prize winners will each receive the Hallmark Gold Crown® Collector's Edition DVD of The Russell Girl. [...]
    Before the Rains was shown at the Palm Springs International Film Festival yesterday and will be shown again later today. The Press Enterprise briefly mentions the event:
    [...] Today [meaning Friday] is the U.S. premiere of "Before the Rains." Set in 1937 India, it tells of a torrid love affair and characters caught between loyalty to Britain and the desire to be free. Beautifully filmed by director/cinematographer Santosh Sivan. It also screens Saturday. [...]
    Did anyone have the chance to attend?!

    The Desert Sun reports that Carl Spence, the co-director of programing at PSIFF, chose Before the Rains as "Friday's best bet." Here is what he had to say about the film:
    [...] A sweeping film full of striking vistas, "Before the Rains" has the look of a fine period epic, but as it binds its characters tighter and tighter within their dilemmas, it reveals the gears of a good film noir. Having made his reputation in "Priest," Linus Roache once again excels as a respectable man capable of catastrophic acts. Rahul Bose, however, as the local subaltern, is the heart of the film: here is the Indian man navigating all the harsh choices that came with colonization. [...]
    In an article about The Complete Jane Austen, Becky Krystal of the Washington Post explains that "there's something about Jane:"
    [...] Rebecca Eaton, executive producer of Sunday night staple Masterpiece (formerly Masterpiece Theatre), said Austen's "limited canon" made an ideal television package — quite a feat for a woman who lived from 1775 to 1817.

    "Whoever thought Jane Austen would be event television?" she said. "But it is."

    Austen's heroines from 200 years ago translate well for today because they are intelligent and spunky and stand up to authority, said Marsha Huff, president of the Jane Austen Society of North America. "You can put them in modern dress and (they) still seem like people we understand," Huff said.
    One reason why Austen's novels are well-suited to television adaptation, Wallace said, is that Austen is "so good at dialogue."

    "She's a scriptwriter's dream," Wallace said, "because there's so little to do." [...]
    Robert Lloyd of the Los Angeles Times specifically discusses the new production of Persuasion, as does David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle. As the first movie on the schedule, Persuasion will be shown on PBS this Sunday, Jan 13.

    In other news, BBB-Blogger informs us that "stars are flocking to Tom Stoppard’s Rock 'n' Roll on Broadway," including a certain fine-eyed lady.
    (FYI - Playbill reports that Rock 'n' Roll will not be extending its limited run and will play its final performance on March 9. Go see it while you have the chance!)

    Finally, blogger Michael Berry writes about "A Conversation with Tom Stoppard," which took place at San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater on January 5.
    [...] Beginning at 10 on a storm-swept morning, the program attracted a sell-out -- and peculiarly geriatric -- crowd, but their enthusiasm for the author was evident. Settled in armchairs on the otherwise empty stage, Stoppard and Perloff discussed the recent success of "The Coast of Utopia" and "Rock 'n' Roll" for just under an hour. [...]
    Read on for some of the highlights.

    Thursday, January 10, 2008

    3 days til Jane; 17 til Lorainne

    Greetings all! Just some little bits and bobs today:
    • Firstly, CBS/IMDb have some lovely photos of The Russell Girl. The above is of Ms Ehle as Lorainne Morrisey, and there are thirteen more of other cast members. Happy viewing!
    • Secondly, Jane Burns of The Capital Times arouses more excitement about PBS' 'Complete Jane Austen' extravaganza. Even her little introduction succeeds in eliciting anticipation:
    [...] They play the piano forte. They hide their affections for those brooding sorts. They know their own minds and love to read. They are the island of common sense in a sea of idiotic relatives and acquaintances. They speak of "understandings" and "attachments." And they'll be all over PBS this winter and spring. [...]
    • On January 5, Tom Stoppard was interviewed at the American Conservatory Theater (ACT) by Carey Perloff, as part of the Koret Visiting Artist Series. Fortunately, a podcast of the discussion is available in three parts. Slightly less fortunately, Part One does not seem to contain any any Coast of Utopia discussion as written, and Parts Two and Three do not currently seem to be working. Hopefully the faults will be amended soon!
    • Calling all Californians - the Berkeley Daily Planet have announced that three readings of The Coast of Utopia will be taking place this month. It is perhaps a little late notice for Voyage (being read today) but you may be interested in the other two:
    [...] The Coast of Utopia Reading of the trilogy by Tom Stoppard “Voyage” at 7 p.m. at the Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Other readings on Jan. 16 and Jan. 23. Tickets for all three are $150. 841-6500, ext. 303. [...]

    Although the wording is a little unclear, given the previous bullet point and the fact that Sir Tom is therefore in California, one presumes these readings are being done by him, thus accounting for the price - but please double check this if you plan to attend!

    • On the blog scene, one author/blogger discusses the 1989 film adaptation of John Ehle's Winter People.
    • Lastly, as you may have heard, Nicole Kidman has had to drop out of upcoming project, The Reader, due to her pregnancy. While IMDb report that her place has now been filled by the lovely Kate Winslet, prior to this one blogger proposed an alternative:

    [...] How about Jennifer Ehle? She's a great actress and bona fide box office! [...]

    Saturday, January 05, 2008


      • Everyone is talking about 'Sundays with Jane.' Monroe News has another article about 'The Complete Jane Austen,' which begins next Sunday.

        [...] Jane Austen fans, rejoice. A most agreeable situation is at hand.

        PBS' "Masterpiece Theatre" will air a "weekly feast" of the early 19th century author's works Jan. 13 through April 6."

        The Complete Jane Austen" features all-new productions of "Persuasion," "Northanger Abbey," "Mansfield Park," and "Sense and Sensibility" along with prior productions of "Pride and Prejudice" starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth and "Emma" starring Kate Beckinsdale.

        The four new productions were adapted by screenwriter Andrew Davies, who wrote "Bleak House" starring Gillian Anderson in 2006. Ms. Anderson will debut as one of "Masterpiece Theatre's" new hosts with the Austen series.

        Also slated is "Miss Austen Regrets," a story based on the author's own bittersweet love life.

        While Miss Austen's stories focus on the pursuit of "good matches," they're seen as witty social commentaries on middle-class life - especially for women - in the early 1800s. [...]

      • And just for fun, the Liverpool Echo has an article about Pride and Prejudice.

        [...] Colin Firth wasn’t the only piece of genius casting, though.

        With five Bennet girls to cast, producers ended up seeing virtually every actress between the ages of 15 and 28 who had the requisite period air about them. At the first audition, the actors read a few scenes in front of the producer and director before moving on to a screen test. For this they were dressed in period costume and given full hair and make-up.

        Jennifer Ehle, previously in The Camomile Lawn, became a definitive porcelain- complexioned Elizabeth.
        So who did those few hours of TV have the most lasting effect on? There are two tied winners.

        Firstly, a fictional one – Bridget Jones. The hopeless singleton finally found her man thanks to author Helen Fielding’s fondness for Colin Firth’s character.

        “I was so in love with Mr Darcy, so without hesitation I called Bridget’s Mr Right Mark Darcy,” she explained. Firth went on to play Mark Darcy in the film version.

        And the other? Colin Firth himself. When asked by a French magazine who were the women in his life, he replied: “My mother, my wife and Jane Austen.” [...]

      • Roma Torre of NY1 considers Jennifer Ehle's performance in The Coast of Utopia to be one of the year's best. Duh!
        [...] Among the women: "The Coast of Utopia's" Jennifer Ehle won a much deserved Tony and Martha Plimpton launched an incredible year, returning triumphantly to Lincoln Center in "Cymbeline." [...]

      • Finally, visit The Village Voice to read Michael Feingold's "A Year is Born," in which "the theater district gets its own Twelfth Night, complete with kings bearing gifts." Here is a snippet:
        [...] Just then a ray of predawn light, piercing the garage's grimy air, struck the sleeping baby's face, and it spoke for the first time. "Repertory," it said, in its piping voice.

        "Repertory," the women echoed, awestruck. "Of course." Stanislavsky's eyes brightened. Brecht grinned his sardonic grin. Ziegfeld's brow furrowed. "Repertory?" inquired Charlotte St. Martin. "I'm not sure I know what that is."

        "It isn't commercial," Estelle Parsons explained sadly. "That's why New York doesn't have it." "But we have dozens of nonprofit theaters," said Elizabeth McCann, gesturing around her, puzzled. "Yes, but they're not repertory theaters," cried Rosemary Harris, while Joanne Camp nodded energetically in agreement. "I've played in real repertory. I can tell you, there's nothing better—for actors, for the theater, for the audience." [...]

      Wednesday, January 02, 2008

      Happy New Year!!

      I hope everyone had a great holiday. But, we can't begin a new year without first looking back at '07:
      • Linda Winer of Newsday says that plays, not musicals, took center stage in 2007:
        [...] for the first time in who knows when, drama is flourishing on Broadway and off. At this rare instant, serious theatergoers can see major revivals of Harold Pinter, Samuel Beckett, Tom Stoppard, Edward Albee and Edmond Rostand. [...]
        And, Sir Tom made the number two spot in her 'Top 10 in Theater' list:
        2. TOM STOPPARD. The year began with the now-closed "Salvage," the third and final installment of "The Coast of Utopia," the unlikely and poignant extravaganza about pre revolutionary Russian progressive thought. And now we have "Rock 'n' Roll," the Czech-born British playwright's latest extreme-sport expedition to the jagged coasts of another Utopia. (Bernard Jacobs Theatre, ongoing.) Although less wonderful than such Stoppard masterworks as "Arcadia" and "The Real Thing," this strangely distant play is still a heady and entertaining drama about Czechoslovakia from 1968 through 1990 - with rock music as its audacious guide.
      • Playbill dedicated an entire section to Martha Plimpton in the 'Top Theater Stories of 2007':

        MARTHA PLIMPTON When Martha Plimpton was searching for treasure in "The Goonies" and having Keanu Reeves' baby in "Parenthood," who would have thought that two decades later she'd be one of the hottest stars on the New York stage? Although Plimpton had previously appeared on Broadway in Sixteen Wounded (2004) and Shining City (2006), 2007 seemed to be her year: The stage and screen star received a Best Featured Actress in a Play Tony nomination (as well as a Drama Desk Award) for her performance in Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia and stellar notices for two Shakespeares: Midsummer Night's Dream in Central Park and Cymbeline at Lincoln Center. Plimpton's already booked for 2008: She'll star in Caryl Churchill's Top Girls — under the direction of James Macdonald — at the Biltmore Theatre beginning in April.

      We have many exciting things to look forward to in the coming months!!

      • Rosemary Harris will be reprising her role(s) in Oscar and the Pink Lady at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, New Jersey from January 15 to February 10. According to Playbill:
        [...] In a statement George Street artistic director David Saint said, "I am thrilled and honored to be welcoming Rosemary Harris to George Street Playhouse. It is amazing to me to have this great lady of the theatre on our stage. I am doubly thrilled to welcome back Frank Dunlop, the founder of England's Young Vic Company as well as the Brooklyn Academy of Music's theatre company. He magnificently directed Address Unknown a few seasons ago, and we are so pleased to be able to work with him again. [...]
        Visit the George Street Playhouse website to order tickets.

      • January 13 marks the beginning of Masterpiece Theatre's The Complete Jane Austen, which will air on PBS. The PBS PressRoom describes the "event" as such:
        [...] For the first time on television, Austen fans can now sit down to a weekly feast of all of her immortal plots, presented by MASTERPIECE® THEATRE over the course of four months in beautifully acted, lavishly set and gorgeously costumed adaptations. As a bonus, viewers will be treated to a new drama based on Austen€™s own bittersweet love life. [...]
        For a sneak peak, click on the link in the upper right corner of the PBS website and watch the commercial that has been posted at youtube. Also at youtube is "a behind-the-scenes look at adapting Jane Austen's classic novels to television with screenwriter, Andrew Davies." The PBS PressRoom has the entire television schedule, though My Favorite Things has posted one that is a bit easier to read. Note that Pride and Prejudice will be shown in three parts on February 10, 17, and 24.

      • Before the Rains will make its US premiere at the Palm Springs International Film Festival on January 11 and 12. Visit the PSIFF site to purchase tickets.

      • The Russell Girl will be broadcast on CBS (US) on January 27 and...

      • Pride and Glory will be released in the US and UK on March 14. See IMDB for more release dates.

      Best wishes to everyone in 2008!