Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Jane Fonda vs. Geoffrey Rush for the Triple Crown

You know about the Triple Crown of Acting, right? It's when an actor manages to stretch across three mediums and snag all three of the top competitive prizes: Tony (theater), Emmy (television) and Oscar (film).

To date only 15 actors* have accomplished this but the number could jump to 17 soon. Currently the rarified list reads like so...
<--- Dianne Wiest on Broadway with John Lithgow (four EMMYs, two TONYs... only Oscar eludes him) and Patrick Wilson in All My Sons.

This year I expected to see one of my all time favorite actresses Dianne Wiest fighting for a place on this list. She already has two Oscars (Hannah and Her Sisters and Bullets Over Broadway) and two Emmys (Road to Avonlea and In Treatment) but she did not receive a TONY nomination for All My Sons. I shall console myself with the happy knowledge that she's left boring-ass TV procedurals behind and is returning to fine roles elsewhere. Next up for Wiest: more In Treatment on TV and Rabbit Hole with Nicole Kidman onscreen... for which she could conceivably snag her fourth supporting actress Oscar nomination in 2010.

So, no Dianne. Jane Fonda and Geoffrey Rush did get nominated though and could become Triple Crowners in one month's time. Fonda has two Oscars (Klute and Coming Home) and one Emmy (The Dollmaker) and she's up for the TONY this year for 33 Variations. Geoffrey Rush has one Oscar (Shine) and one Emmy (The Life and Death of Peter Sellers) and Exit the King could bring him the TONY.

The Tony Lead Acting Races

Lead Actress Play
  • Hope Davis, God of Carnage
  • Jane Fonda, 33 Variations
  • Marcia Gay Harden, God of Carnage
  • Janet McTeer, Mary Stuart
  • Harriet Walter, Mary Stuart
This category is brutal with two squabbling pairs of leading ladies. Although as far as I know neither Hope nor Marcia lose their head in God of Carnage so the battle in Mary Stuart is deadlier. It comes with a body count. Could all this infighting / vote splitting clear the way for Jane Fonda? [p.s. Harden already has the Oscar and if she snags this TONY all she's waiting for is the EMMY. Will she get a nomination for Damages in July?]

Lead Actor Play
  • Jeff Daniels, God of Carnage
  • Raúl Esparza, Speed-The-Plow
  • James Gandolfini, God of Carnage
  • Geoffrey Rush, Exit the King
  • Thomas Sadoski, reasons to be pretty
It's cause for some despair that Esparza seems like he's never going to win the TONY. And with Pushing Daisies cancelled we'll never know if they planned to bring him back as "Alfredo Aldarisio" and maybe give him a duet with Kristin Chenoweth. He's so clearly one of Broadway's best and versatile too given that he hops between plays and musicals with ease. But TONY voters L-O-V-E movie stars and vote for them when they get a chance. Geoffrey Rush should be able to snag this one and join the triple crowners.

Lead Actress Musical
  • Stockard Channing, Pal Joey
  • Sutton Foster, Shrek
  • Allison Janney, 9 to 5: The Musical
  • Alice Ripley, Next to Normal
  • Josefina Scaglione, West Side Story
It's a West Wing reunion... the EMMYS on Broadway! But I don't understand the Janney nomination. At all. I find her as endearing as a celebrity as most people but let me put it this way: she makes Renée Zellweger in Chicago look like a born hoofer. I could practically hear Janney counting whenever she had to do the simplest moves onstage. Both of her co-stars sang multiple circles around her and if you ask me, Megan Hilty in the Dolly role would have a right to be pissed that she was passed over so that TONY could get its celebrity fix. But thems the breaks. All awards bodies prefer celebrities to lesser knowns, if they're in direct competition.

Lead Actor Musical
  • David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik, and Kiril Kulish (combined) as Billy Elliot
  • Gavin Creel, Hair
  • Brian d'Arcy James, Shrek
  • Constantine Maroulis, Rock of Ages
  • J Robert Spencer, Next to Normal
I'm not exactly sure why Gavin Creel (I'm not a fan) is considered lead in Hair while Will Swenson is nominated in "featured" (the story is about Creel but Swenson controls the show and gets more stage time -my review) but I'm not part of the nominating committee. Trivia: We have our first TONY nominated American Idol alum in Constantine Maroulis. Many of the Idol players have been on the boards (an odd twist given that American Idol regularly uses "Broadway" as an insult -- never mind that most Broadway performers can sing circles around Idol contestants) but this is the reality show's first nominee.


A lot of film stars were ignored this year including: Kristin Scott Thomas for The Seagull (my interview), Susan Sarandon for Exit the King, Rupert Everett for Blithe Spirit, Daniel Radcliffe's naked identity crisis in Equus (my review), smoking Carla Gugino for Desire Under the Elms and the romantic pairing of Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons in Impressionism.

For a complete list of TONY nominees, click here.

Don't be quiet. What do you think of these nominations and which movie star would you most love to see on stage?

* Notable superstars like Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, Barbra Streisand and Whoopi Goldberg have all three prizes too but they didn't win them all in competitive categories or for performances.


abstew said...

carla gugino was ROBBED! i don't understand how she was not nominated. her passionate performance was so intense and steamy, i could feel the heat in my seat in the last row of the orchestra.
(also, it's liev's brother, pablo, as her paramour.)

Rick Schoen said...

Shouldn't Rita Moreno been on the list of triple crowners?

adelutza said...

I haven't seen any of the lead actress nominated performances but I saw "The Seagul" and "Exit The King" and I thought that both Kristin Scott Thomas and Susan Sarandon were terrifc.
But they can't nominated eveybody, I guess.
Also, I loved Angela Lansbury in "Blyte Spirit" and I hope she wins. Her performace was so good, I wished the play would never end ( and it's a pretty long play)

Samuel Wilson said...

Did anyone besides Minnelli do it all in one year?

RobUK said...

Not being a New Yorker, and not having visited this year, I'm not familiar with most of the line-up, so consequently I rely on what I read online about the Tony nominations to get a sense of "How Impressive It All Is" (or "How Much Tony Messed It Up This Year").

At best, to the outside world, the Tonys play either as a push in the direction of some cast albums, and/or a reminder of what you could be seeing, if it hasn't already closed, if you happen to visit New York any time soon.

Funnily enough, earlier today after reading the nominations, I mentioned to a friend how blissfully NON-starry the Tonys had proved themselves to be in snubbing Radcliffe, and then you throw the Janney factor at me! Since she'd be the sole reason I'd go and see the show, I'm happy she got a nod... but I'm sorry that it's at the expense of apparently worthier co-stars.

The only transatlantic crossover (save for Billy Elliot) that I saw in London was The Norman Conquests, and I had a similar Janneyesque thought when I read the nominations... It surprised me that they found room to honour 4 of the 6 actors, whilst passing over the actor - Ben Miles - that I considered the most memorable out of the whole company!

Thanks for your review. It's good to read thoughts of people who have an opinion one way or another about whether the list is actually any good... rather than the usual: 'Here's the list; make of it what you will'...

Rodrigo the Hated One said...

So, I guess if all of this plays get a film adaptation, Meryl Streep could be the lead in every single one of them, right?

She would be fantastic in everything, she could even play the 4 leads in God of Carnage and be nominated for the 4 acting Oscars.

She would be at least considered to play Shrek in Shrek the Musical if they do taht on film (with real life actors).

Cengiz said...

It baffles me that the superior [Title of Show] got 1 nomination (I hope it wins!) and Shrek got 8 (I hope it loses everything!)


abstew - corrected oops.

rick - hmmm. you're right. i got from wikipedia. i shall double check.

adelutza - this is the poorest year of my life and therefore the year in which i've seen the least theater. but i really do want to see that one.

robUK - i haven't read 9to5 reviews so for all i know i'm in the minority but i just found nothing impressive about her performance and I do like her as an actress. Her voice is unremarkable and she CANNOT dance... and i need both things for musicals ;)

rodrigo -- great point. That way Meryl can win 4 oscars at once too and finally beat Hepburn!

Beau said...

Radcliffe, Scott Thomas, Lane and Irwin deserved noms. And I've only seen one of those, but I'm damn sure that ST's work in 'Seagull' and the latter duo's take on Beckett deserved some Tony recognition.

abstew said...

ha! smoking is right! yowza...

also, playbill lists all shows' rush and standing room policies. its so helpful when looking for more affordable tickets. but i've always wondered why every show doesn't have general rush tickets and not just student. students aren't the only poor people who wanna see theatre!


abstew said...

p.s. the last part of that link is

not sure why it got cut off...

Andrew said...

abstew: It's an attempt to get more young people to the theatre so that Broadway's audience doesn't die out. Obviously everyone would like cheaper tickets.

Also, good for Alice Ripley!

MK said...

i believe audrey hepburn is also a member of the triple crown club.


Audrey doesn't count (in a similar way to Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland) because one of the prizes was not in a competitive acting category. Streisand won an honorary TONY, Garland a special youth Oscar and Audrey's EMMY was for a documentary

Rick said...

I think MArcia Gay Harden and James Gandolfino will get the Drama Tonys.

Wayne B. said...

Never have seen a Broadway play so any opinion on Tonys would be hugely ignorant. But I would love to see Judi Dench perform on-stage someday. My English teacher played our class a VHS copy of "MacBeth" with Ian McKellen and she was transfixing.

par3182 said...

marcia gay harden doesn't have a tony (she lost her angels in america bid to debra monk in redwood curtain in '93)

Alex said...

whoa whoa whoa...When was it announced Dianne Wiest is in Rabbit Hole? If that's true...Oscar #3?


alex... i think it was yesterday. or over the weekend? I forget.

Cengiz said...

I think its sad that all three Billy Elliot's got a nomination but the of the two kids who play his best friend Michael, only one of them got nominated.

Glenn Dunks said...

Another name who would be on there but isn't is Whoopi Goldberg whose Grammy was an honourary one, not a competitive one.

I was a bit sad of 9 to 5 basically because it's the only one I've seen and i LOVED it. How did it not get nominated for the set design though? I'm not expert, but that astounding! And, yeah, Megan Hilty should be in Janney's place. Funny though cause I actually wrote several places that "Janney will get better as the show continues on" (in terms of weeks, not as the individual show goes - I saw it on second night of previews) and yet, apparently the TONY voters thought she was good enough from the very beginning.

I was allergic to all the ads for Shrek that I saw.

Andrew K. said...

I have not been on line in a while and now Nat you have officially ruined my day. No Kristin Scott Thomas. I have not seen it (do not live in the US) so I'm not a valid critic...but this totally sucks. When she didn't get an Oscar nod this was the consolation... well there goes that.

Carl said...


In addition to the Triple Crown, is there not a "category" called the Grand Slam (Oscar, Emmy, Tony, and Grammy)? I believe Rita Moreno and one other performenr occupy that rarefied air.

Billy Held An Oscar said...

I believe Helen Hayes is a Grand Slammer.

Also, Mel Brooks. Oscar for The Producers, Emmy for Get Smart (I think ... ) , Tonys for The Producers, and Grammys for Comedy Album.

Billy Held An Oscar said...

Actually, Cynthia Nixon is only an Oscar away from being a Grand Slammer.

Tony Award - Rabbit Hole
Emmy Award - Sex & The City and Law and Order
Grammy Award - Best Spoken Word

All she needs is the Golden man ...

par3182 said...

i believe john gielgud and mike nichols are grand slammers as well

Carl said...

I think the traditional Grand Slam (is there such a thing?) requires the Grammy to be a singing performance. Otherwise there would be several slammers, as has been noted. Does anyone know of someone who, besides Moreno, won their Grammy for singing?

Will said...

Ms. Lansbury for a win! Kristin Scott Thomas was snubbed, oh well, what else is knew...

Anonymous said...

"marcia gay harden doesn't have a tony (she lost her angels in america bid to debra monk in redwood curtain in '93)"

But maybe she won the EMMY this year in Best Supporting Actress either for Drama Series -Her role in "Damages" is great even when she has little screen time-; or for Miniserie or Movie from TV -"The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler" received good reviews and looks is received good response for EMMY voters too. Plus: Jessica Lange will compete for Leading Category so maybe she has the free way-

Anonymous said...

Carl - I completely disagree with you. Recording a book, in my opinion, is a form of acting.

Carl said...

Anon. 3:43 -

I agree...it is a form of acting. The reference I remember (and it was a vague memory in the first place) talked about the Grand Slam as a recognition for the versatility of a performer, so the specific reason for including the Grammy was to acknowledge a performer's singing talent, as opposed to acting talent. Anyone good enough to win an Oscar or Tony for acting should be able to earn recognition by the Grammy voters for a studio reading.

John C. said...

If Angela Lansbury wins, she will tie Julie Harris' record of five tony wins. Good Luck, Angela!

Anonymous said...

I am pretty sure the great Julie Harris has six Tonys.

I see almost everything and don't pay full price for anything! I thought sure that Kristin Scott Thomas was a shoo-in to WIN for 'The Seagull' and she wasn't even nominated. And how did Susan Sarandon get overlooked? I know she is governed by the work and not the accolades, but she is brilliant in 'Exit the King.' I thought Peter Sarsgaard also should have been nominated in 'The Seagull.'

I hope Mr Esparza finally wins the Tony. Just having to endure Jeremy Piven on the same stage is enough reason to give it to him. He was robbed for 'Company' and 'Taboo' both, and is the most versatile performer in theatre right now. He really deserves to be a star.

Anonymous said...

A Grand Slam should be recognized if the Grammy award was won competitively, as with the other awards. Since there are non-singing categories, whether or not singing was involved seems beside the point.

Anonymous said...

Hey all...Julie Harris only has six because of her Lifetime Achievement award in 2002. And yes to Rita Moreno. Regarding Mike Nichols (one of my all round favorites), his awards are not for acting and that is what the premiss of this particular blog is: "Triple Crown of Acting."
In 1973 Liza DID win... Liza with a Z won for single program/variety and the award was given to the star and the producers.
Helen Hayes with two Tonys (and a grammy)
And then there is Audrey Hepburn

Anonymous said...

I can't believe that you're saying Liza Minelli didn't get a triple crown. She WON all three awards. None of them were "special" awards, they were all in competition. Get your facts straight. You just robbed her.


anon... i see this is a bone of contention for many but didn't she win for producing her special. Which is not acting. even though she's obviously winning for how insanely great her performance is.

anyone have any clarification on this?

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