George Clooney is co-producing the film version of August: Osage County, the darkly funny story of a family of estranged women forced to come together in their Midwestern home when a crisis occurs. It won five Tony Awards in 2008, including best play.
Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts are set to star as mother and daughter. John Wells plans to direct, with Tracy Letts writing the script based on his own play. Clooney will work with his usual producing partner, Grant Heslov.
The Weinstein Co. will release the film and says shooting is scheduled to begin later this year.
BESS TAKING A REST
Audra McDonald is temporarily stepping down from her Tony Award-winning role in The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess while she recovers from inflamed vocal cords. She is due to return July 3.
Says her spokesman: “No one is more frustrated and disappointed than she is that she will be out of the show through the end of June, but she must adhere to her doctor’s orders.”
At this month’s Tonys, McDonald was named best lead actress in a musical and her show was named best musical revival.
Late Wednesday, a frustrated McDonald said she’s endured cameras and mirrors shoved down her throat and must now be silent. She tweeted: “Want 2 scream but not allowed to speak.”
‘SISTER ACT’ CLOSING
God is having a tough month on Broadway — Godspell is closing, Jesus Christ Superstar is on life support and now comes word that Sister Act is going to theatrical heaven.
Producers said last week that the musical based on the 1992 film starring Whoopi Goldberg will play its final performance on Aug. 26, a 16-month run that included more than 561 performances.
Sister Act opened on Broadway in April 2011 after a stint in London and was nominated for a best musical Tony last year. But the show took in $665,744 over its eight performances last week — less than half of its $1.5 million potential. The 1,755-seat Broadway Theatre, where the show plays, was about 66 percent full.
Raven-Symone, former star of The Cosby Show, star is currently appearing as the nightclub-singer-turned-nun Deloris Van Cartier, having taken over the part from Patina Miller, who earned a Tony Award nomination.
A North American tour kicks off Oct. 2 in Toronto.
Stolen documents, military medals and other artifacts valued at about $5 million — including letters signed by Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson — were returned last week to Chicago’s Polish Museum after being found in the basement of a home decades after they went missing.
The more than 120 items include letters and documents dating to the 18th and 19th centuries, seals, military medals and Nazi propaganda from World War II. The pieces also included documentation about Napoleon, George Washington, John Adams and American Revolution hero Thaddeus Kosciuszko.
Officials said Harlan Berk, a Chicago coin and antiques dealer, notified the museum last October that his office had purchased historic items it had traced to the institution. The museum contacted the FBI, which started an investigation.
Berk told the FBI that the sellers said they found the artifacts in the basement of a Chicago house where they were tenants. FBI Art Crime Team investigators found that the residence was owned by the mother of a former Polish museum curator. The FBI recovered additional artifacts and documents from the home.
No charges were filed because the FBI couldn’t determine who took the items from the museum or exactly when they were taken. The statute of limitations in the case also had run out.
Relic going home
The Toledo Museum of Art says it will return an ancient water jug to Italy that investigators believe was probably illegally dug up from that country years ago.
The 2,500-year-old water vessel, or kalpis, has been on display at the Ohio museum since 1982, when it was purchased from an antiquities dealer out of Switzerland. It will be displayed in the museum’s Libbey Court until it leaves for Rome, probably in late summer.
Black painting on the orangey clay vessel at the Toledo museum depicts the Greek tale of Dionysos, the god of wine and drama. The late museum curator Kurt Luckner had recommended Toledo buy the kalpis for $90,000, and its acquisition was a coup for Toledo because the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York had also wanted it at the time.