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Exclusive: A Conversation on 33 Variations
Kevin Sessums Talks to Jane Fonda and Moises Kaufman

33variations  

GuestbloggerKEVIN SESSUMS

I recently had a conversation with Moises Kaufman and Jane Fonda. Kaufman’s play, 33 Variations, opens on March 9th at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre on Broadway with Fonda as its leading lady. She plays a musicologist who is trying to solve the mystery of Beethoven spending so much time writing 33 variations based on a short waltz by Anton Diabelli. She, like the composer, is battling against time. He was going deaf. She has a life-threatening disease. Among her costars are Samantha Mathis, who plays the daughter with whom she’s had difficulties and Colin Hanks — yes, Tom’s son — who plays her nurse.

Fonda_kaufman Kaufman is the writer and director of Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde and The Laramie Project. He directed, among other plays, I Am My Own Wife and Liev Schreiber’s Macbeth at the Public Theatre. He is the artistic director of the Tectonic Theater Project.

We all know Fonda’s credits — or many of them. She’s been at this for fifty years. I ask after a mutual friend, Pat Newcomb, who was the publicist for everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Barbra Streisand to Warren Beatty. “You know I took Pat to the Czech Republic right after the Velvet Revolution and we met Vaclav Havel,” she says, smiling at the memory and petting her small Coton de Tulear dog named Tulea who is curled in her lap.

I recall the first time I ever met her. “It was years ago,” I tell her and mention one of my best friends from college who became one of her closest Hollywood pals for a while. We all had dinner at Joe Allen.

“It couldn’t have been that many years ago,” she said.

“Yeah. It was,” I tell her. “Maybe the early ‘80s. We each had vestiges of a shag and you showed up with your stepmother.”

She laughs.. “I’ve had several. Which one?” she asks.

“I think her name was Susan.”

“Oh, yes, yes. Susan! Yes. Now I remember.”

“I walked you back to your hotel and you told a rather risque joke about arriving at The Pearly Gates and the conversation that ensued with Saint Peter. I remember thinking to myself — shit — Jane Fonda is funny. Who knew she was funny?

JANE FONDA: I’ve gotten funnier. I had to keep up with Ted Turner. He’s hysterical. You’ve got to have a sense of humor to be married to Ted Turner.

KEVIN SESSUMS: That could be a compliment or an insult. He allowed you to get more in touch with your own sense of humor?

JF: Well, he allowed me to ... ah ... well... yeah. That’s all. Yeah.

KS: After your divorce from him, you kept living in Atlanta. Do you consider yourself a Southerner now?

JF: Yes, I do. I’ve lived there for over 18 years.

KS: Moises, we met at the “Mormon March” after Prop 8 passed in California and we New Yorkers took to the streets in solidarity. We were both rendezvousing with some guys at the Barnes and Noble next to the Mormon Visitors Center. I was with my old boyfriend Peter Staley.

MOISES KAUFMAN: Yes, of course. We were meeting Tony Kushner and his husband, Mark Harris. Doug Wright and his husband, David Clement. To be demonstrating with Tony in front of the Mormon Visitors Center — because that’s where half of Angels in America takes place — was very moving.

KS: It had the dramatic contours of a Moises Kaufman play.

MK: Yes, I guess it did, didn’t it. I was very moved that night.

JF: Someone emailed Moises a picture of me with Harvey Milk during a “No on Prop 6” march.

KS: Well, honey, you do have a history of marches. I’d expect you to have a picture with Harvey Milk.

JF: It’s why I loved Sean’s performance so much. I knew Harvey and he totally got him.

Continued, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Kevin Sessums Talks to Jane Fonda and Moises Kaufman" »


Christina Aguilera Gaga Over Barbarella?

Christinabarbarella

Christina Aguilera is aspiring to be the love child of Lady Gaga and Barbarella, AFTER THE JUMP...

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News: Quentin Tarantino, Ugly Dog, Bulgaria, Michelangelo

road.jpg First-ever "Rainbow Parade" set for Czech Republic: "he National Party (Národní strana) sees the event as a 'pressure on the majority, pressure that is disgusting and awkward, pressure leading to social acceptation of the children being adopted by homosexual couples.' Members of the party are prepared to protest against the march. Police are evaluating potential risks in order to determine what security measures will need to be applied."

Tarantino_2road.jpg Quentin Tarantino accepts Filmmaker on the Edge award from the Provincetown Film Festival. John Waters: "You helped reinvent John Travolta as a man and I reinvented him as a woman."

road.jpg DAD: Amy Winehouse in first stages of Emphysema.

road.jpg Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to officiate today at marriage of American Beauty producer Bruce Cohen to art consultant Gabriel Catone: "After the state Supreme Court struck down a ban on same-sex marriage last month, Villaraigosa promised to preside at as many ceremonies as possible. But when the ruling took effect last week and other political officials were presiding over same-sex weddings, Villaraigosa was in Israel on a city trip."

road.jpg Nationalists in Bulgaria plan "Week of Intolerance" in response to upcoming gay parade.

road.jpg Gay health therapist Michael Shernoff has died at the age of 57, of pancreatic cancer.

Sistineroad.jpg Book: Michelangelo hid secret messages in Sistine Chapel attacking the Pope.

road.jpg Jane Fonda on her first screen test, with Warren Beatty: "At the time I suspected that Warren might be gay, because he was so cute and had so many unusual, intellectual friends. Well, how wrong can you be?"

road.jpg Brooklyn appellate judges to hear arguments on New York Governor David Paterson's directive to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages: "he case being heard today, Godfrey v. Spano, will consider whether recognition of same-sex marriages first requires approval from the Legislature. So far the Legislature hasn't passed any laws relating to gay marriage. Whatever decision the Brooklyn appeals court reaches in the Godfrey case is sure to be quickly appealed to the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals."

road.jpg Gerard Butler is a fashionista.

Ugliestroad.jpg Dog named world's ugliest.

road.jpg Salon bookmark: Gore Vidal's Inconvenient Truths.

road.jpg Australian city council apologizes to gays for incident that happened 20 years ago.

road.jpg SF Chronicle columnist's brief encounter with David Beckham: "Beckham is, for lack of a better word, man-tastic. He leans on a stool, wearing a crisp white shirt and silver tie, having just taken off his cream suit jacket. His hair is cut short and simple, ceding attention to his long stubble, which covers his face except for two Band-Aid-size vertical stripes shaved clean on either side of his goatee."

road.jpg They got him!

road.jpg The NYT takes a closer look at pregnant trans man Thomas Beatie: "Partly a carnival sideshow and partly a glimpse at shifting sexual tectonics, his image and story powered past traditional definitions of gender and exposed a realm that seemed more than passing strange to some observers — and altogether natural to those who inhabit it. 'This is just a neat human-interest story about a particular couple using the reproductive capabilities they have,' said Mara Kiesling, director of the National Center for Transgender Equality in Washington. 'There’s really nothing remarkable' about the Beatie pregnancy, she said."


Barbarella's Pygar is Dead

Pygar

The actor John Phillip Law, who played the blind angel Pygar in Barbarella, has died at the age of 70 in Los Angeles.

Watch the clip, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Towleroad Guide to the Tube #78

EVAN LYSACEK: His winning long program at 2007 figure skating championships.

JOHNNY WEIR: Child of Nazareth. Weir, spooked by Lysacek's stunning program, fumbled into 3rd.

JANE FONDA: Her first anti-war rally in over 30 years.

DAVID BECKHAM: On being a prince in the Disney campaign.

Don't miss the rest of our Guides to the Tube!


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