News Column

Tonys: That Hollywood-Broadway transition is harder than it looks

April 30, 2013

YellowBrix

April 30--NEW YORK -- When Shia LaBeouf dropped out of the Broadway revival "Orphans" because of a tiff with Alec Baldwin, only to be replaced by Ben Foster, the question became: Which of the two actors might take the Tony love from LaBeouf?

As it turns out, it was a moot point.

The show did get an acting Tony nomination, but it was for Tom Sturridge, a little-known actor who had done mostly screen work in his native Britain. And even Sturridge was the exception.

Most of the actors who landed nominations Tuesday morning have been toiling in theater in recent years. The Hollywood actors who made up the 2012-2013 Broadway class? They were almost nowhere to be seen. There was no Tony nomination for Al Pacino in "Glengarry Glen Ross," nada for Scarlett Johansson in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," nothing for Cuba Gooding Jr. in "A Trip to Bountiful," nor Sigourney Weaver in "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" nor Bette Midler in "I'll Eat You Last." That last one, which traffics in Hollywood themes, is perhaps most notable.

This on top of the actors who never stood a chance coming in to the nominations: Katie Holmes in the long-gone "Dead Accounts," or Jessica Chastain for the equally done "The Heiress." Sure, there was Tom Hanks, but in Nora Ephron's final work -- and with a film career that's been in a bit of an odd place for the past few years--making him sui generis in more ways than one.

So what does the Hollywood-Broadway nexus become from here? Big actors like to head to the stage because prestige movies are harder than ever to get, and because it establishes acting chops (even if it also, er, causes them some issues).

And Broadway producers still like stars: though some of these shows flopped, there's no question that productions like "Glengarry" were sustained because of known names. But after a year when so many stars didn't find the accolades they wanted, don't be surprised if the Hollywood movement to Broadway tapers off, if only slightly, if only for a minute.

Hollywood still will make its presence felt on Broadway in other ways. A couple of new shows, after all, are derived from movies. But you wouldn't exactly call it Hollywood glitz: "Kinky Boots," which led all Tony nominations with 13, was a quirky film that made just $2 million at the U.S. box office.

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