One of Broadway's brightest lights in the new millennium, innovative choreographer Susan Stroman made a smashing entrance to the directing ranks with the original dance drama "Contact" (which she co-c...
Top Story: It's a Boy for Kate
Kate Hudson and husband Chris Robinson gave birth to their first child yesterday, making her mom Goldie Hawn a proud grandmother, Reuters reports. Ryder Russell Robinson weighed in at a healthy 8 pounds, 11 ounces. Hudson, who was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in Almost Famous, has been married to former Black Crowes frontman Robinson since 2000. This is the first child for both and Hawn's first grandchild.
Minnelli Begins First Leg of Divorce
Liza Minnelli and her lawyers attended the first pretrial hearing in her divorce case, but her soon-to-be ex, David Gest, was a no show, AP reports. According to Gest's lawyer, the producer and promoter is in Hawaii getting physical therapy treatments to resolve the injuries inflicted by Minnelli during their brief marriage. Gest is seeking $10 million in the civil assault case he has filed against her in addition to the petition for divorce. Minnelli is suing for $2 million in restitution, a financial accounting, legal fees and a court order requiring Gest to keep all financial records that may pertain to her. Minnelli is the daughter of Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli.
Ford Officially Divorced
Harrison Ford and his wife of nearly 20 years have officially divorced after living apart for more than three years, AP reports. Ford and his wife, screenwriter Melissa Mathison, met on the set of Apocalypse Now and married several years later. Ford's current relationship with Calista Flockhart has caused a few raised eyebrows due to their nearly 20 year age gap.
Carrey Makes Bank
Jim Carrey is the top moneymaker of 2003, according to Quigley Publishing Co., a company which polls theaters on which stars made them the most profit over the last year, Associated Press reports. The poll, which has been taken by the publishing company every year since 1932, also named Ashton Kutcher and Scarlett Johansson as future big earners for theaters. Other stars who found box office success in 2003 were Nicole Kidman, who finished second behind Carrey, followed by Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, Johnny Depp, Russell Crowe, Tom Hanks, Will Ferrell and Renee Zellweger.
Paltrow Defends Choices
Gwyneth Paltrow is tired of all the scrutiny surrounding her life and career, AP reports. The 31-year-old actress, who won an Oscar for her role in Shakespeare in Love and recently married Brit rocker Chris Martin of Coldplay, tells Vanity Fair in the February issue it doesn't matter to her if she's not number one in Hollywood--her heart's in London. "I feel like in L.A. everyone is looking over their shoulder, and in London nobody does that," Paltrow says. "I'm really (expletive) good at my job, and people who are interesting and good know that, and that's all that matters."
In America Wins Top Producers Award
Jim Sheridan's semi-autobiographical story of Irish immigrants trying to make it in New York City has been tapped for the Producers Guild of America's Stanley Kramer Award for excellence in portraying relevant social issues, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The film, which has also been nominated for six Independent Spirit Awards, was co-written by Sheridan's daughters Naomi and Kirsten. The award celebrates the late director, who created such seminal works as Guess Who's Coming To Dinner and Inherit the Wind. The Guild will present the award January 17 in Los Angeles, California.
Nemo Swims to Top of Annie Noms
Last year's record breaking hit Finding Nemo leads the pack at the 31st Annual Annie Awards presented by the International Animated Film Society with 12 nominations, AP reports. The awards, doled out annually, recognize accomplishments in feature-length film, television, commercials and short subjects. Awards will be given for best directing, character design, and voice acting as well as many other categories during the February 7 ceremony in Glendale, California.
Simmons Leads Voter Registration Charge
Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons will record public service announcements encouraging young people to register to vote as part of an effort to register 2 million new voters in 2004 and 18 million more over the next five years, AP reports. The announcements, which will feature a number of hip-hop stars and other celebrities, will air during syndicated radio personality Doug Banks' show as part of a deal with The Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, founded by Simmons. The program, "One Mind. One Vote." will launch in Times Square January 19.
Role Call: Producers To Be Re-Reproduced
The Producers, which began as a Mel Brooks film in 1968, will return to the big screen in an adaptation based on the current Broadway hit, AP reports. The film will star Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, whose recent return to their Tony Award-winning roles to packed houses ends in April. Mel Brooks will produce the new film with the play's director Susan Stroman as director. The Producers is slated for a Christmas 2005 release.
Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick took their last bows Sunday night at the St. James Theater in New York.
Lane and Broderick, who have spent the last year starring in the Mel Brooks musical The Producers, are handing over their roles to Henry Goodman (Private Parts) and Steven Weber (TV's Wings).
The Producers is based on a 1968 Brooks film about a ne'er-do-well Broadway producer, Max Bialystock (Lane), and his self-effacing accountant, Leo Bloom (Broderick). The two swindle investors out of their money by raising more cash than they need for a sure-fire Broadway bomb--then pocket the difference.
A teary Lane and Broderick took their bows before a cheering crowd and remained silent when Brooks and director/choreographer Susan Stroman came on stage and presented them with bouquets of red roses, The Associated Press reports.
"We wanted to thank you for making us laugh for an entire year," Stroman said, wishing them well on their new adventures.
Brooks yelled out, "Ditto."
Broderick's wife, Sarah Jessica Parker, was in attendance at the Sunday matinee.
Lane and Broderick already have projects on the horizon. Lane will star in a CBS comedy called Life of the Party, while Broderick will star in a television version of The Music Man on ABC. Both were offered large sums of money to stay in the show, but both said no.
"The nature of acting is that you have to move on," Broderick said in an interview. "At some point, you have to let these things go and, in a way, it's nice to go when there's still some energy left."
The Producers has been an audience favorite since it opened to rave reviews in April 2001 and has been a continuous sellout since. The show won a record 12 Tony Awards last June, including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book of a Musical, Best Direction, Best Choreography and Best Actor for Lane.
The original supporting cast members are staying in the show; Goodman and Weber, who signed nine-month contracts, will start March 19.
Matthew Broderick, to The Associated Press, on hosting Sunday's annual Tony Awards with Nathan Lane, his costar in the Mel Brooks-created The Producers:
"They basically said we want you to do it and if you don't want to, you have to call Mel and Stro (director Susan Stroman). It would have been fairly dramatic to say, 'No.' Nathan has been writing our material and we will look at it together. Hopefully, it will end up reasonably bearable
"The co-hosting part made it a little less daunting. We are going to introduce the show and wave good-bye. We're not going to do a lot of running-the-thing-along stuff."
Choreographed Nicholas Hytner's feature dance drama, "Center Stage"
Directed and choreographed the Broadway musical, "The Scottsboro Boys"
Choreographed Trevor Nunn's revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!" for London's National Theatre
Created the dances for the Broadway revival of William Inge's "Picnic"
Co-conceived and choreographed "Sondheim: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall" (aired on PBS)
Choreographed Kander and Ebb's "Steel Pier"
Choreographed Harold Prince's revival of "Show Boat"
Joined the national tour of Bob Fosse's "Chicago"
Re-teamed with Ellis for "And the World Goes 'Round"; co-conceived project, as well as provided choreography
Choreographed Harold Prince's New York City Opera production of "Don Giovanni"
Directed Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane in the feature adaptation of the successful Broadway musical, "The Producers"
Created "Gershwin Graham" for the Martha Graham Dance Company
Collaborated with Brooks again, as director and choreographer of the musical, "Young Frankenstein"
Re-teamed with Prince to choreograph the initial staging of "Kiss of the Spider Woman" at New Musicals
Featured as a dancer in "Peter Pan"
Directed and choreographed "Thou Shalt Not," with music by Harry Connick Jr.
Teamed with Mike Ockrent for Broadway's musical adaptation of "Big"
Directed and choreographed a revival of "The Music Man"
Choreographed "Liza Minnelli Live! From Radio City Music Hall" (aired on PBS)
Made her Broadway debut as an ensemble member in "Whoopee!"
Directed and choreographed Mel Brooks' musical adaptation of "The Producers"
Co-authored and choreographed the three-part dance play "Contact" at Lincoln Center's Mitzi Newhouse Theater; made her directing debut when the show moved to Broadway in 2000
First professional appearance was in a revival of Vincent Youmans' "Hit the Deck!" at the Goodspeed Opera House
Choreographed the regional theater production of "Sayonara"
First big break as a choreographer came when director Scott Ellis hired her for his off-Broadway revival of "Flora the Red Menace"
Choreographed the annual production of "A Christmas Carol" at Madison Square Garden's Paramount Theater
Recreated her acclaimed choreography for the Trevor Nunn-directed revival of "Oklahoma!" on Broadway
One of Broadway's brightest lights in the new millennium, innovative choreographer Susan Stroman made a smashing entrance to the directing ranks with the original dance drama "Contact" (which she co-created) and the revival of "The Music Man" both premiering to raves on the Great White Way in the spring of 2000. Receiving four Tony nods for directing and choreographing the two shows, she joined Michael John LaChuisa (who also garnered four nominations that year for the books and scores of "The Wild Party" and "Marie Christine") as the first quadruple honorees since Elizabeth Swados in 1978. Exposed to show tunes by her piano-playing salesman father, Stroman acted in community theater in her home town of Wilmington, Delaware but really got the bug when a touring version of "Seesaw" came to the Wilmington Playhouse with Tommy Tune in clogs leading a chorus line of girls festooned with balloons. Inspired by the combination of a "great love story" and lots of choreography, she moved to New York and toured in the original productions of Bob Fosse's "Chicago" and the revue "Sugar Babies".<p> Stroman's first big break came when director Scott Ellis hired her to choreograph the Off-Broadway revival of Kander and Ebb's "Flora, the Red Menace" (1987). Director Harold Prince saw her work and tapped her to provide the dances for his New York City opera production of "Don Giovanni". After reteaming with Ellis for both the New York City Opera's "A Little Night Music" (1990), telecast as part of "Live at Lincoln Center" (PBS), and the Kander and Ebb Off-Broadway review "And the World Goes 'Round" (1991), which she also co-conceived, she collaborated with director (and future husband) Mike Ockrent on "Crazy for You" (1992), winning her first Tony for Choreography. Stroman received an Emmy nomination for choreographing "Liza Minnelli Live! From Radio City Music Hall" (PBS, 1992), co-conceived and choreographed the Emmy-nominated "Sondheim: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall" (PBS, 1993), and provided the Tony-winning choreography for the triumphant revival of "Show Boat" (1994), directed by Prince. She also created the dances for the Broadway revival of William Inge's "Picnic" that year.<p> Stroman experienced back-to-back Broadway failures with "Big" (1996), the misfired adaptation of the popular Penny Marshall feature starring Tom Hanks, and Kander and Ebb's "Steel Pier" (1997), reuniting with Ockrent on the former and Scott Ellis on the latter. However, Lincoln Center's artistic director Andre Bishop, responding positively to the dancing and poetry of "Steel Pier", told her if she had an idea for a show, he would help develop it. Stroman called John Weidman, who had written the book for "Big", and the two began working on what would become the steamy, three-part dance play "Contact". Meanwhile, she scored a major coup as choreographer of Trevor Nunn's revival of "Oklahoma!" (1998) at London's National Theatre. Receiving permission from the respective estates to break with tradition (as she would later do for "The Music Man"), she courageously replaced Agnes de Mille's historic choreography at the close of Act I, stamping her own signature on the ballet by having the three principals (not their alternate fantasy selves) perform it. Michael Coveny of <i>The Daily Mail</i> called her choreography "perhaps the biggest star of the night."<p> "Contact" was a delight at Lincoln Center's Mitzi Newhouse Theater when it opened in the fall of 1999, and it made a terrific transformation upstairs to the Broadway house in 2000 (where it was reclassified as a musical). The larger Vivian Beaumont Theater freed the dancers emotionally, as well as physically, and made a much more suitable home for the marriage of Stroman's exuberant and witty choreography with Weidman's equally funny and touching words. If the choreography was an afterthought when "The Music Man" first opened in 1957, her version was a tour de force of dance. Resisting the pressure to put a "big star" in the role of consummate con man Harold Hill, she went with relative no-name Craig Bierko (in his Broadway debut) who proved more than up to the task. Yet, in the midst of bringing two shows to Broadway, Ockrent, with whom she had also collaborated annually on Madison Square Garden's "A Christmas Carol", lost his battle to leukemia, and the death of her husband stole much of the sweetness from Stroman's greatest hour as a professional. She also provided choreography for Nicholas Hytner's feature dance drama "Center Stage" (2000), including a climactic number that A.O. Scott in The New York Times called "sexy and infectious".<p>Stepping in for her late husband, Stroman assumed the reins of the stage musical adaptation of "The Producers", based on the Mel Brooks comedy. From its opening in Chicago, the musical earned sterling reviews and had audiences guffawing in the aisles. Stroman's fluid direction and signature choreographic touches merely enhanced the hilarity inherent in the script and songs and the show proved to be a triumph on Broadway, earning a record 12 Tony Awards, including those for direction and choreography. When it was decided that the movie-turned-musical would next go full circle back to the big screen, Stroman was chosen to helm the 2005 film, which starred Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane, the actors who made the Broadway version such a smash, as well as Uma Thurman and Will Ferrell.
Married in 1995; Died on Dec. 2, 1999 at age 53 of acute leukemia
Born in 1916
Born on July 9, 1918; Died in April 1992, shortly after celebrating 50 years of marriage to her husband
University of Delaware
Formed a nightclub act with fellow dancer Jeff Vezey; performed on and off throughout the 1980s until Vezey's 1989 death from complications from AIDS.