9 items from 2009
Sandra Isidore enters the Eugene O'Neill Theatre stage atop a staircase, ready to inspire Fela Kuti to stand against the military dictatorship in Lagos, Nigeria. It's a dramatic entrance for a character that Saycon Sengbloh, the actor who portrays her, describes as a "fighter." Sengbloh should know one when she sees one. She had to fight her way to the top of that staircase.Sengbloh, 32, co-stars in "Fela!" the concert-style musical that opens on Broadway Nov. 23 and tells the story of Nigerian musician and activist Fela Kuti. Long before she took the stage for the first time as Kuti's lover, the Harlem resident began performing at Tri-Cities School for the Visual and Performing Arts in her native Atlanta. (There she first worked alongside Sahr Ngaujah, now her leading man in "Fela!") During her high school years, she also studied under Freddie Hendricks at the Youth Ensemble of Atlanta, an award-winning African-American youth theater company. »
Casting directors came out from behind the curtain to be honored by their peers last night at the 25th Annual Artios Awards. The bi-coastal awards, which were held simultaneously at the new Times Center in New York City and the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, are presented yearly for outstanding achievement in casting in theater, film, and television categories on the criteria of originality, creativity, and contribution of casting to the overall quality of a project.Celebrity awards presenters in New York were Patrick Wilson ("Little Children," "Angels in America"), Carrie Preston ("True Blood"), Michael Shannon ("Revolutionary Road"), Jennifer Morrison ("House"), Bill Pullman ("Oleanna"), Christine Ebersole ("Grey Gardens"), Vincent Kartheiser ("Mad Men"), and Elizabeth Reaser ("Twilight"). Stanley Tucci and producer Daryl Roth presented the New York Big Apple Award to Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron, whose "Love, Loss and What I Wore" recently opened Off-Broadway to rave reviews. »
Simultaneous awards ceremonies will be held in at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles and the New York Times Building in New York on Nov. 2.
Representing 425 members in the United States, Canada, England and Australia, Cas also announced its nominees in film TV and theater on Thursday.
In the category of big budget feature drama, Ellen Chenoweth scored two noms for "Changeling" and "Duplicity." The category nominees are John Papsidera for "The Dark Knight"; April Webster and Alyssa Weisberg for "Star Trek" and Avy Kaufman for "State of Play. »
- By Gregg Kilday
Yesterday came the yearly announcement from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as it extended 134 invitations to several artists and executives "who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to theatrical motion pictures" read the press release. Of course all of them can decline, but I wouldn't necessarily expect that to happen as all who accept the invitation will be the only additions in 2009 to the Academy's roster of voting members. "These filmmakers have, over the course of their careers, captured the imagination of audiences around the world," said Academy President Sid Ganis. "It's this kind of talent and creativity that make up the Academy, and I welcome each of them to our ranks." The list follows below and reading around the best analysis I saw of it came from Nathaniel Rogers at The Film Experience who, among other things, pointed out the addition of longtime Darren Aronofsky's »
- Brad Brevet
On Tuesday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences issued invitations to 134 members of the film community to join the group. There were a maximum of 166 open slots to fill this year, but the various branch committees endorsed fewer candidates than were proposed to them.
Hugh Jackman, who hosted the most recent Oscar show, has been invited to join. So have Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt, James Franco and Michelle Williams. The list even includes a number of comic performers like Michael Cera, Seth Rogan and Paul Rudd.
Voting membership in the organization has held steady at just under 6,000 members since 2003.
New members will be welcomed into the Academy at an invitation-only reception at the Academy's Fairbanks Center for Motion Picture Study in Beverly Hills in September.
"These filmmakers have, over the course of their careers, captured the imagination of audiences around the world," Academy president Sid Ganis. Said. "It's »
- By Gregg Kilday
American Idol contestant Adam Lambert was once considered for the lead role in the highly-anticipated Spider-Man musical, it has emerged. Speaking to MTV News, the casting director of Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark revealed that the 27-year-old had been on the original shortlist of auditionees for the part of Peter Parker. "We started working on Spider-Man a year-and-a-half ago, and [Lambert is] someone we know because we cast him in Wicked and knew he had that kind of range," said Bernie Telsey. "He was someone (more) »
- By Lara Martin
The Broadway stage may be in the futures of Jim Sturgess and Evan Rachel Wood. According to Bernie Telsey, the casting director for Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark, even though his team is conducting open casting calls, the Across the Universe duo still has potential to take the leading roles. During the first cast calling at New York City's Knitting Factory, Telsey told me that both Sturgess and Wood have done readings for the parts of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. While both actors have superb singing abilities and are very desirable for the leads, there is still the possibility that individuals from the casting calls may be selected. It's obvious that casting talent as big as Sturgess and Wood would be the smartest move when considering ticket sales. After their performances in Across the Universe, their ability to perform well in a musical is a guarantee. It seems »
The following is a list of the top 25 Power Casting Directors in film and television (including Casting Director of the Year, Debra Zane; see page 9). We began with more than 100 candidates. In some cases, collaborations were so closely tied that we considered multiple people as one entity. Several drafts later, all 25 spots were cast.Notably omitted from the list are in-house casting executives at studios and networks, the inclusion of whom would have ballooned our list to 50 or more. But read about them online at www.backstage.com/spotlight. Focusing on independent casting directors leveled the playing field and highlighted people whose puissance is not affected by one scale-tipping affiliation. Now, on to the top 25!Kerry BardenCan you imagine Monster's Ball starring Erykah Badu, or American Psycho starring Leonardo DiCaprio? Kerry Barden can, because he saw them read the parts. "There are so many great actors that sometimes it's a »
Actress Kathleen Turner is set to return to the Broadway stage this weekend (21-22Feb09) after injuring her knee on Tuesday.
Turner, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, is currently starring in a new adaptation of comedy The Third Story in New York.
Producers were forced to cancel three shows this week after Turner injured herself off-stage following her Tuesday night performance.
But a spokesman for the play has now announced the star will return to work on Saturday for the matinee show, complete with a leg brace and a cane.
The play's co-artistic director Bernard Telsey has praised Turner's dedication to the job. He says, "Kathleen Turner personifies the attitude of the Broadway trouper. Against any odds, she must - and will - make her performance."
The show, at the Lucille Lortel Theater, is scheduled to run until 15 March. »
9 items from 2009
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