WENT downtown near Katz’s Deli to a former synagogue which played host to the elite playwrights, producers, directors, actors of the not-for-profit Theatre Communications Group. This sounds kind of dull, because people don’t bother to learn the brilliant names of the nation’s playwrights, as a rule.
But it wasn’t. The old synagogue rocked to modern music and we realized that the TCG publishes most ofthe nation’s playwrights and they were honoring Ruth and Stephen Hendel and Ming Cho Lee. The group does tremendous work for letting art and literature flourish in the name of the theatre.
I was in heaven because my idol, Pulitzer winner Tony Kushner, was also speaking.
This gave me the chance to announce later on from the podium that I often had delusions of romancing Mr. Kushner, but that I had realized it would have disintegrated into one of those dreadful and boring heterosexual marriages.
When serious “honoring” is going on at such fund-raisers, best to have a few young talented beauties on hand. And they did. The event was emceed by the gorgeous Jessica Hecht, Tony-nominee who is currently in the Manhattan Theatre Club’s play “The Assembled Parties.” And also on hand was another of my idols — the Emmy, Oscar, Golden Globes’ multi-winner actress, director and star Christine Lahti.
I have loved this woman since she starred in “Chicago Hope” … visited in her homes, met her three kids, and her Texas author husband Thomas Schlamme. Christine tells me she is bi-coastal, as is Tom, but their children are in school here and she likes living in New York. We had a joyful reunion. She, of course, is often in Hawaii playing the mother of actor Alex O’Loughlinin “Hawaii Five-0.” Christine has three movies coming out — “Mania Days,” “Truck Stop,” and “Hateship, Loveship.”
BACK TO the why we were there — Such names as Lydia R. Diamond, Jasmine M. Keller, Teresa Eyring, Philip Himberg, Terry Nemeth, Richard Nelson, Emily Mann, Eric Bogosian, Quiara Alegria Hudes — all spoke to enthusiastic applause from the crowd.
I ran into Anne Kaufman, the keeper of the famed writer George Kaufman’s enduring legacy. She is reviving her father’s famous play-movie “You Can’t Take It With You” and the star will be James Earl Jones. That’ll be worth waiting for.
As I left the beautiful old synagogue, I reflected on the last time I had visited there. A birthday party for none other than Bette Midler, at which words were spoken that had never been spoken in a place of worship before. But the synagogue worshippers were long gone; the crowd the other night was strictly worshipping the printed word and the art of literature.
PLAYWRIGHT Larry Kramer says actor star Alec Baldwin will NOT be in his movie of “The Normal Heart,” as planned. “He is being replaced by someone mightier! Sit tight!” Larry is working with and raving about director Ryan Murphy on “The Normal Heart” and ideas for HBO. He says Ryan is better than anyone he has worked with in the past. (Well, this is theater; such things are subject to change.) Larry’s final verdict? “HBO is the place to go today. The studios were yesterday and God bless their ashes; they deserve to be buried.”
YOU CAN pay $67.50 for a ticket online at www.yorktheatre.org (this theatre — in a church — is my favorite on the East Side of Manhattan at 54th Street off Lex) and you will see “I’m A Stranger Here Myself” — really unusual James Morgan production with music by entertainer Mark Nadler. He explores the depths of the European expatriate experience. Using songs of Kurt Weill, Friedrich Hollaender, Lotte Lenya and Marlene Dietrich, this little musical examines ordinary Germans and artists caught up in the Nazi machine. Lots of different performances ending May 19th.
THOUGHTS: Sometimes I lose entire persons or people for not paying attention. This happened a few weeks back when suddenly I realized my old pal, the press agent deluxe Shirley Herz, and our friend Angela Lansbury were among the missing.
They had gone to Australia where Angela is currently playing in the drama “Driving Miss Daisy” withJames Earl Jones. These two have been in Sydney knocking the Aussies dead and they open the 17th in Melbourne and I believe, go on to Perth. These two great talents sent Shirley back to New York as they have gone gloriously on with this magnificent play. They’re the toast of Aussieland!
I read recently in Lynda Obst‘s book, “Sleepless in Hollywood,” about how impossible Hollywood has become about translating a drama into film. Alfred Uhry’s play could not nowadays ever be made into a movie, even though at the time it was a big hit onscreen and off. And even though it won the Oscar forJessica Tandy in her delightful old age and her costar Morgan Freeman was nominated.
This column originally appeared on NYSocialDiary.com on 5/15/13