Broadway‘s John Golden Theatre was SRO Friday evening with invited guests and fans who’d scored tickets through a lottery to hear directors Mike Nichols and Jack O’Brien talk movies — specifically Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (1966) and The Graduate (1967), Nichols’ freshman and sophomore efforts following an extraordinary run of Broadway hits that included Neil Simon’s Barefoot In The Park and The Odd Couple. The first film earned him an Oscar nomination for best director; with the second film, he took home the statuette.
The conversation, which was being filmed for HBO, began a day earlier, in private, and covered his years as half of the comedy team of Nichols and May (whose 306-performance Broadway run beginning in October 1960 had taken place in this same theater) and his collaborations with Simon and others. And it will pick up again in private on Monday, dealing with his years working both sides of the continent. But Friday night, the subject was filmmaking, a career Nichols practically fell into by accident.
Related: `Master Class’ Helmer Mike Nichols Talks Shop for HBO
“Who the hell are you, and how did you know you could do a film?” O’Brien asked, only half-kiddingly after a brief introduction. O’Brien — himself one of the theater’s most intelligent and crystalline directors (with Nichols he shares a special affinity for the work of Tom Stoppard) — explained that after recently publishing his autobiography, he’d encouraged Nichols to do the same. Out of Nichols’ demurral came the idea of filming the conversations; the timing is fortuitous, coming just a day after the announcement that Nichols will film an adaptation of Terrence McNally’s Master Class, starring Meryl Streep as a diva in the mold of Maria Callas, beginning after the turn of the year.
Related: TCA: HBO Reveals Details Of Mike Nichols/Meryl Streep ‘Master Class’
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The Union Jack will be flying over Broadway big-time this coming season, as talk heats up about bringing Bill Nighy, Carey Mulligan and the acclaimed National Theatre revival of David Hare’s Skylight to New York in the spring. I wrote a few weeks ago that while the Stephen Daldry production will be telecast in the fall by NT Live, far better would be the chance to see Hare’s extraordinarily moving play — about the expired romance between an older, self-made businessman and an idealistic young teacher, roles created by Michael Gambon and Lia Williams — on Broadway.
This week the show, which runs in London through August, got the stamp of approval from the Times‘ Ben Brantley and Michael Reidel speculates that Scott Rudin and Robert Fox are joining forces to bring it over in the spring. I’m told that conversations are indeed going on to bring the show in. “Even more than in Richard Eyre’s fine 1996 Broadway production,” Brantley wrote of Nighy (who appeared on Broadway in Hare’s 2006 The Vertical Hour) and Mulligan, “I was always aware of how ineffably, achingly attracted each was to the other, and of the diametrically opposed ways in which that attraction became flesh.”
Skylight will have plenty of company: September 10 will see the first performance of another celebrated National Theatre import, The Curious Incident Of The Dog in The Night-Time. And on Halloweeen, Jez Butterworth’s The River starts up at Circle In The Square with Hugh Jackman, directed by Ian Rickson (who also staged Butterworth’s amazing Jerusalem in 2011, with Mark Rylance). Read More »
The star system might be waning in Hollywood, but not when those stars take to the Broadway stage. The Mike Nichols-directed revival of the Harold Pinter play Betrayal, which stars Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and Rafe Spall, just set a new Broadway box office record for a play when it grossed $1.44 million for the week ending December 19. That surpassed the mark formerly held by the Tom Hanks-starrer Lucky Guy, which earlier this year took in $1.412 million for the week ending April 21. First performed at London’s National Theatre in 1978, Betrayal ends its limited run this Sunday, January 5. Weisz and Craig play a married couple whose happiness is threatened when her long affair with her publisher husband’s lit agent best friend (Spall) is exposed.
Real-life husband and wife Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz in her Broadway debut will join Rafe Spall to star in Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, to be directed by Mike Nichols and produced by Scott Rudin. Performances are set to begin October 1 at the Barrymore Theatre, with opening night November 3. The plan is to run the drama, which originally appeared in 1978 at London’s National Theatre, for 14 weeks through January 5, 2014. In the play, Emma (Weisz) is married to Robert (Craig), a publisher, but she has long had an affair with Jerry (Spall), a literary agent and Robert’s best friend. As time is regained, the full complexity of their relationships comes to light.
Arthur Miller’s Death Of A Salesman added to Mike Nichols and Scott Rudin‘s previous Tony hauls, taking nods for best direction of a play for Nichols and best revival of a play for Rudin. Nichols and Rudin, who most recently won for last year’s best musical The Book of Mormon, now have won nine Tonys each. For his movie work Nichols was nominated five times for Oscars, winning best director for 1967′s The Graduate. Rudin has also been nominated for five Oscars, winning Best Picture for 2007′s No Country For Old Men. Once, a musical based on a 2006 Irish movie, took the award for best musical plus seven others out of 11 nominations. Newsies, based on the 1992 Disney movie musical of the same name, won awards for choreography and best original score written for the theatre.
Related: Mike Fleming Interviews Director Mike Nichols On ‘Death Of A Salesman’
Complete list of winners follows: Read More »
At age 80, director Mike Nichols has won eight Tony Awards, and is a frontrunner to add another with Death Of A Salesman. The revival of Arthur Miller’s 1949 groundbreaking play is up for seven Tony Awards including Best Revival. Nichols chose Philip Seymour Hoffman for Willy Loman, the world-weary salesman on the downside of the American dream; Andrew Garfield as son Biff; Finn Wittrock as son Hap; and Linda Emond as Linda Loman. The show just became the rare straight play to crack $1 million for a week’s worth of performances, through the Memorial Day holiday. That is the seventh time the limited-run play broke the house record for the Barrymore Theatre. The limited run ends Saturday. Here, Nichols discusses a play which wears out its cast nightly but clearly has reinvigorated its director.
DEADLINE: Give me a second while I start the tape recorder.
NICHOLS: Tape recorder? I thought this interview was going to be off the record.
DEADLINE: This is one that should be on the record. Your production of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman might be the best received version since the very first in 1949. At the risk of betraying myself a cultural cretin, yours was the first Salesman I saw, and so for me the title was a real spoiler.
NICHOLS: Because it told you what was going to happen? The very first producer they went to thought that and wanted them to change it but he wouldn’t. So they had to go to the second producer.
DEADLINE: Why take on The Great American play?
NICHOLS: Several things. Most great plays of the past lose their grip on immediacy; on application to our lives right now. That is the opposite of the case with Salesman. Take, for instance A Streetcar Named Desire, which is one of the reasons I’m in the theater. I had a girlfriend who got us the very fancy theater tickets when I was in high school. Believe it or not, we saw it the second night. We were so stunned by it we didn’t get up to pee, we didn’t talk; we just sat poleaxed for the three hours or so. And to this day I still remember it as the only thing I’ve ever seen that was a hundred percent real and a hundred percent poetic at the same time. And then about sometime later, maybe a year later, we saw Salesman. It was no longer the number one cast. Lee J. Cobb was already out of it. He only did it three and a half months because it’s a part that just kills the actors. Read More »
The Mike Nichols-directed revival of Arthur Miller’s Death Of A Salesman will recoup its $3.1 million capitalization this week. The limited run play, a staggeringly good production of one of the great American plays, stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Andrew Garfield and Linda Emond. It’s up for seven Tony Awards.