Commentary: All stage-to-screen adaptations are in the shadow of 'Doubt' players


NEW YORK -- Now that we're all Oscar-minded these days, here's an interesting fact uncovered by Harry Haun, one of the prize writers at Playbill: "Doubt" is the only property to have brought Tony and Academy Award nominations to those who played the four principal roles.

Cherry Jones, Brian F. O'Byrne, Heather Goldenhersh and Adriane Lenox were Tony contenders in 2005 for their Broadway interpretations of the four main characters; ditto their screen counterparts Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Viola Davis. (Jones, O'Byrne and Lenox went on to win Tonys.)

You might think "A Streetcar Named Desire" would qualify, but in those days (1948), only the winners in the Tony categories were announced, and no records exist about whether Marlon Brando, Karl Malden and Kim Hunter were nominated for their towering stage performances -- only that fellow player Jessica Tandy won.

(Oscar-wise, Brando, Malden and Hunter were nominated for the 1951 film version, as was Vivien Leigh, who played the Tandy role onscreen. Leigh, Malden and Hunter won Oscars.)

It's also a surprise that "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" doesn't make it. It piled up a bundle of nominations for its four principal actors in both the legit and film versions, but one of the co-stars in the Broadway original, George Grizzard, didn't squeeze in.

Speaking of the Academy Awards -- and who isn't these days? -- the New York branch of the Academy will salute Oscar's best picture nominees from that glorious year of 1939 with archival-print, 35mm screenings during a two-week period in June.

Back in that era, there were 10 nominees in the category annually, so on the docket will be the year's Terrific 10: "Gone With the Wind," "The Wizard of Oz," "Wuthering Heights," "Goodbye, Mr. Chips," "Dark Victory," "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," "Love Affair," "Of Mice and Men," "Ninotchka" and "Stagecoach."

It's interesting which now-classics didn't make the cut that year, among them "Gunga Din," "The Women," "Intermezzo: A Love Story," "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex" and "Beau Geste."

Screenings will be held at the Academy's New York headquarters, the Lighthouse on East 59th, starting June 15.

'Life' begins, Miranda ends

Next week's sole opening on Broadway is "The Story of My Life," a new musical with book by Brian Hill, music and lyrics by Neil Bartram and directed by Richard Maltby Jr., opening Thursday at the Booth.

Its two-man cast is in the hands of Malcolm Gets (a Tony nominee for "Amour") and Will Chase ("Rent") in roles done in the musical's 2006 Toronto premiere by Brent Carver and Jeffrey Kuhn. Gets and Chase later played the parts in a 2008 production done at Goodspeed, also directed by Maltby.

No big-time closings are in the offing this week, but there is a final performance of note: On Sunday, Tony winner (for musical score) and Tony nominee (for best actor in a musical) Lin-Manuel Miranda makes his last appearance, at least for the moment, as the star of his Tony-winning musical "In the Heights."

Miranda leaves the show as it begins its second year on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers (prevues began Feb. 14, 2008). His role will be inherited by Javier Munoz, who's been with "Heights" since its workshop days five years ago and has been Miranda's understudy since.

Entree into Oscars

On Wednesday, the media and members of the New York Academy committee were given a look (and, for some, a taste) of what Chef James Sakatos will be cooking up for Academy members attending the Academy's official East Coast party at the Carlyle Hotel, along with a generous sampling of the official champagne of the Oscars: Moet & Chandon.

Each of Sakatos' dishes has been designed to represent one of the year's five best pic nominees, including grilled American snapper for "Frost/Nixon," Tandoori lamb for "Slumdog Millionaire" and a chocolate dessert topped by frozen coconut milk foam for -- yep, you guessed it.

Robert Osborne is the primetime host of Turner Classic Movies.