This years Oscars on Sunday will once again celebrate Broadway. Hollywood and Broadway oft become intertwined. This year is no exception…
“Into the Woods,” the film adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim / James Lapine musical, received nominations for Production Design, Costume Design (Colleen Atwood) and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Meryl Streep).
“Birdman,” the story of an actor struggling to make a comeback on stage, received nominations for Best Picture, Best Featured Actress, which went to Cabaret star Emma Stone. Bradley Cooper, currently starring in The Elephant Man on Broadway, was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his work in “American Sniper,” along with Tony Award winner and “Les Miserables” star Eddie Redmayne (Red) for “The Theory of Everything.” Keira Knightley, will make her Broadway debut in 2015 in Thérèse Raquin, received a Supporting Actress nomination for “The Imitation Game.”
Broadway producing powerhouse Scott Rudin (whom I had the pleasure working with on Copenhagen) is nominated for his film “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (and my personal favorite). Another Broadway producer, Oprah Winfrey, is nominated for “Selma”.
Husband-and-wife songwriting duo Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (and EGOT winners) have written a musical number for Oscar host and Tony winner Neil Patrick Harris called ‘Moving Pictures’. Performing at the annual starry event will be Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson and Anna Kendrick. The production team also includes production designer and Broadway design legend Derek McLane (whom I had the pleasure of working with on I Am My Own Wife), and great director / choreographer Rob Ashford (whom I had the pleasure of working with on Victor/Victoria) and two-time Tony winner Stephen Oremus (Kinky Boots, The Book of Mormon) will be the music director.
Presenters include Jennifer Aniston, Sienna Miller, David Oyelowo, Chris Pratt, John Travolta, Kerry Washington, Josh Hutcherson, Scarlett Johansson, Zoe Saldana, Octavia Spencer, Cate Blanchett, Jared Leto, Matthew McConaughey and Lupita Nyong’o, PLUS current Oscar nominees Marion Cotillard, Benedict Cumberbatch, Meryl Streep, Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon.
Oscar can’t seem to let go of the Great White Way.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (affectionally know as the “Oscars”) was born 88 years ago this June. The first president of the Academy was Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., who moved to film after a solid Broadway career. His wife took her stage name, Mary Pickford, before starring in the original Broadway run of The Warrens of Virginia. She was the only female actress amongst the 36 founding members. The connection between the early Academy and Broadway wasn’t limited to the people involved. Often the early films celebrated by the Academy drew heavily on stories originally told on stage. The most nominated film in the first annual Academy Awards was based on the 1922 stage hit 7th Heaven.
The Academy began hosting its awards show just as the silent film era was coming to an end. The Jazz Singer, the first full-length feature film with synchronized sound, shared an Adapted Story nomination with 7th Heaven. (The Jazz Singer began its life on Broadway in 1925 play.) By the 2nd Academy Awards, only one out of the five nominees for Best Picture was a silent film. It was called The Patriot and was based on Ashley Dukes’s Broadway translation of Alfred Neumann’s German play.
The Academy continued a strong connection to Broadway through the Best Actor category. Lionel Barrymore won for his portrayal of an alcoholic lawyer defending his daughter’s former flame from a murder charge in A Free Soul. In the film’s final scene, Barrymore delivers an intense 14-minute courtroom monologue.
The early years of motion pictures were full of creative borrowing from the Broadway stage. The past decade alone has seen wins for film versions of the Broadway musicals Chicago (2003) and Dreamgirls (2007), with adaptations of straight plays like Frost/Nixon (2009), War Horse (2011) and Les Miserables (2013) garnering Best Picture nominations. This year the movie version of the Broadway smash Into the Woods received nominations for Production Design, Costume Design and Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
Read more about the fascinating history of Hollywood and Broadway at the Museum of the City of New York: http://mcnyblog.org/tag/oscars/
The Oscars are Feb. 22 at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, and will be televised live on the ABC Television Network at 7 PM ET.