CASTING ABOUT: Brit sensation Tracie Bennett brings her Olivier award-winning talents to Broadway on March 19 when she opens at the Belasco with her controversial portrayal of Judy Garland in the West End musical
hit End Of The Rainbow … popular German TV presenter Barbara Schöneberger will host the Rose d’Or Awards Ceremony on May 10 in Lucerne … Kristin Kreuk has been set as the lead in the CW pilot Beauty and the Beast, a remake of the CBS series from the late ’8Os … and Harold and Kumar star and House alumnus Kal Penn is set to star in the ABC comedy pilot Prairie Dogs.
MEANWHILE, BACK ON THE ATLANTIC OCEAN: This year’s Floating Film Festival sailors started their day yesterday with a fluffy croissant of a movie — Darling Companion, from Big Chill filmmaker Lawrence Kasdan. Ostensibly about a lost dog, it’s really a gentle look at the different stages of male-female relationships and the emotional baggage we carry with us from childhood. And what a cast — Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline -- Rex Reed, who introduced the film, pointed out that this is Kevin Kline’s sixth outing with Kasdan — Dianne Weist and Richard Jenkins, Elizabeth Moss from Mad Men, screen enigma Sam Shepard and more.
Thanks to Rex, our afternoon screening was a bit of a mind-bender. Remember Dolores Hart, the actress who co-starred with Paula Prentiss, Yvette Mimieux and Connie Francis in Where The Boys Are? Some 47 years ago the fair Ms Hart left showbiz to take holy orders. She’s now Mother Dolores at a cloistered convent in Bethlehem, Connecticut, and is the subject of the Oscar-nominated short God Is The Bigger Elvis. Knowing that Mother D’s chum Paula Prentiss would be on board with husband Richard Benjamin, Rex brought a copy of the film for all of us to see. Fascinating to hear Mother Dolores — now the Prioress of the Regina Laudus Abbey — reflect on her Hollywood screen life with Anthony Quinn, Montgomery Clift and, yes, Elvis himself. Even more fascinating was meeting the beau she left behind — Edith Head had already designed her wedding dress — and seeing his relationship with her today.
The 26-minute short film was a stark contrast to the Woody Harrelson shocker Rampart, a somewhat relentless saga of a corrupt cop that proved to be a tough slog for many of us. Harrelson is all too convincing as the flawed protagonist, and he gets great back-up by a dazzling cast of supporting players, including Ned Beatty, Steve Buscemi, Ice Cube, Anne Heche, Audra Macdonald, Cynthia Nixon, Sigourney Weaver and Robin Wright, each of whom make the most of their material. Not exactly a good time at the movies, but undeniably strong filmiest fare.
Rounding out our celluloid hat trick last night was a film about television by someone who definitely knows what he’s talking about. Exporting Raymond is a genuinely funny and unexpectedly revealing ‘In’-sight into the world of television. The documentary follows Phil Rosenthal, creator of the hit TV series Everybody Loves Raymond, as he attempts to translate Raymond into a Russian sitcom. In a classic “fish out of water” scenario, show-runner Rosenthal travels to a distant land to help people who don’t want his help. What soon becomes amusingly apparent is that it is show creator Rosenthal, not Ray Romano, who is the real-life Raymond, with eccentric parents who are almost as camera-friendly as Doris Roberts and Peter Boyle. Watching him try to interact with understandably suspicious Moscow TV types quickly becomes a guilty pleasure — which I suspect is exactly what Exporting Raymond star and producer Rosenthal had in mind. His sitcom was a monster hit and great fun, but his doc is not only entertaining, it’s also painlessly educational. Who’da thunkit?