Tony Awards 2013 Nominations Announced: Which Film/TV Actor Has a Chance at a Theater Award?

Jessica Hecht and 2013 Tony nominee, Judith Light, in “The Assembled Parties”

The nominations for the 67th Annual Tony Awards were announced this morning by Broadway veterans Sutton Foster (ABC Family’s Bunheads) and Jessie Tyler Ferguson (ABC’s Modern Family.) Among the nominees are your standard theater performers, who have yet to make themselves known to a wider audience, but there are a lot of familiar faces from television and film as well. The late Nora Ephron received a posthumous nomination for penning the play, Lucky Guy, which stars fellow nominee Tom Hanks (who starred in Ephron’s films Sleepless in Seattle & You’ve Got Mail.) Broadway and film vets Nathan Lane, Tracy Letts, David Hyde Pierce, and Tom Sturridge vie for top honors along with Hanks in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play category. In my humble opinion, Alan Cumming was snubbed for his tour de force performance in Macbeth.

For Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play, television and film veterans fill a category where it’s clear they all started in the theater. It includes the stellar works of Laurie Metcalf (The Other Place) Amy Morton (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) Kristine Nielsen (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike) and Cicely Tyson (A Trip to Bountiful.) The thing that I find most interesting about this category is the fact that Jessica Chastain was snubbed for her Broadway debut in The Heiress.

The most fun however, will come with the featured actors in plays (both male and female categories.) For the male category, it includes: Danny Burstein, Golden Boy, Richard Kind, The Big Knife, Billy Magnussen, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Tony Shalhoub, Golden Boy and Courtney B. Vance, Lucky Guy.  They are all theater veterans and well-known in television and film as well. For the female category it’s the battle of the Judiths with both Judith Light and Judith Ivey getting nominations. Carrie Coon, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Shalita Grant, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Judith Ivey, The Heiress, Judith Light, The Assembled Parties and Condola Rashad, The Trip to Bountiful.

It will be interesting to see who wins in these categories considering most of them do theater, film and television. For a complete list of nominations you can go here.

Quantum Leap: Acting Exercises in a Television Series

Quantum Leap is an American television series that was broadcast on NBC from March 26, 1989 to May 5, 1993, for a total of five seasons. The series was created by Donald Bellisario, and starred Scott Bakula as Dr. Sam Beckett, a quantum physicist from the near future who becomes lost in time following a time travel experiment, temporarily taking the places of other people to “put right what once went wrong”. Dean Stockwell co-starred as Al Calavicci, Sam’s womanizing, cigar-smoking sidekick and best friend, who appeared as a hologram that only Sam, animals, young children, and the mentally ill could see and hear. The series featured a mix of comedy, drama and melodrama, social commentary, nostalgia, and science fiction, which won it a broad range of fans. One of its trademarks is that at the end of each episode, Sam “leaps” into the setting for the next episode, usually uttering a dismayed “Oh, boy!”–Wikipedia.com

There’s one thing Wikipedia left out. It’s one of the greatest television series to incorporate basic acting exercises. When actors were little kids, they probably played “make believe” like all the other children. What we actors didn’t realize at the time was, we were actually doing some of the most basic acting exercises. We’d play the teacher, the mother, even the animal. One of the theater/improv games I still enjoy is “freeze” where a performer is able to tag anyone out of the scene and start a new scene. Essentially, that’s what Quantum Leap was as a series. The main character is often disoriented and needs time to re-gain their footing and adjust accordingly to the circumstances around him. Scott Bakula played everything from a young kid, to an animal, even a different gender and race without the use of special effects or offensive makeup. He played the characters as they were, all of the time, we as an audience were seeing him as he actually looked. The most basic of acting games was now utilized in a complex television series.

What I love is that Bakula was able to play all these different characters while maintaining is primary character of Sam. However, the most interesting parts may just come from the supporting cast around him. The actors who had to act alongside Bakula and treat him as if he were a kid, woman, animal or gangster. It’s amazing to look at the series from an acting perspective because it reminds me of scene study classes. Part of me wishes that all series were as amazing as this one. If you’re an actor, watch it. It’s a great learning tool and a wonderful reminder how much fun pretending is.

Don’t Neglect the Bargain Bin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What stars Oscar-winner Adrien Brody, David Moscow (famous for playing David Jacobs in Disney’s Newsies,) future Mentalist star Simon Baker, and former Cosby kid, Malcolm-Jamal Warner? Well, that would be a movie I found in the bargain bin at Walmart back when I was in college called Restaurant (1998.) In fact, Adrien Brody received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for his role in the film about the lives of struggling actors working in a restaurant. It’s actually a really decent film, and I was surprised to find that a film of good quality could end up in the bargain bin.

Julia Roberts has even had movies end up in the bargain bin, one of them being her film debut in Satisfaction. Roberts co-starred alongside Liam Neeson, and Family Ties star, Justine Bateman (whom the film was geared around as a “star vehicle.” ) In the end, it was Julia Roberts who became the household name, but not because of this film. It’s cheesy, but it’s also really interesting as an actor to see how stars, as we know them today, have evolved and grown since their earlier work. I previously blogged about the movie Deeply, starring Kirsten Dunst. I also found that movie in the bargain bin.

I’ve found television series that I used to love as a kid, B-movies of my favorite actors, and some classic films as well. Some stuff is really really bad, other stuff is really good. But the bargain bin should never be neglected. Target has some great deals on really great movies and they usually start at $5. I cannot tell you how great it is to be able to afford some of my favorite movies, and discover new ones too.  One of my acting teachers has always told me to watch bad acting, watch good acting, observe your fellow actors. From an audience’s stand-point, a movie is in the bargain bin because it’s “bad.”From my acting stand-point, I feel bad that others perceive bargain bin movies as awful.

Early on in Julia Roberts career, when she made her film debut in my future bargain bin purchase with the movie Satisfaction, it was more than likely, the biggest break she had in her career at that point. She was making her film debut with Liam Neeson who had already established himself in some fashion, and the “it girl,”  Justine Bateman who was starring on Family Ties. If I were Julia Roberts, I’d be freaking out if I got a part like that with someone who was established on a well-known television series.  Who knows how she feels about that project now.  The way I see it, all projects, whether blockbusters or not, are learning experiences that we can grow from as actors. Plus, when you’re on a budget and you’re a struggling actor, the bargain bin can be awesome.