Allison Janney on Broadway, 'The West Wing' legacy and Trump

Published: Friday, April 21, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

In this March 29, 2017 photo, Allison Janney poses for a portrait in New York. Janney, who won Emmy Awards for her work in “The West Wing” and “Mom,” is starring in a Broadway revival of “Six Degrees of Separation.” (Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP)
Brian Ach/Brian Ach/Invision/AP

Allison Janney recently found comfort in the fact that she shares something special with the late Sir Laurence Olivier. Yes, acting, of course. But also this: panic attacks.

The Emmy-winning actress from "The West Wing" and "Mom" confesses she's been Googling her nervous symptoms and whom she shares them with as she makes her Broadway return.

>>>RELATED: Dayton-area grad Allison Janney wins 7th Emmy, gives acceptance speech

"I'm not going to lie. There's a considerable amount of nerves, panic attacks," she says. "It kind of gets more acute as you get older, for some reason. I don't know why. It should get easier as we get older. I'm going to have to find a mantra."

When it comes to the wonderfully warm Janney, even her bout of nerves is refreshing. The actress — who has two Tony Award nominations — has built a huge following for her smart, heartfelt performances in everything from "The Way Way Back" to "Masters of Sex."

"I think part of the reason I love acting is I never feel more connected than I do when I'm onstage or working with another actor," she says. "I feel like I have a purpose and a reason. It makes me feel connected in a way that sometimes eludes me in my day in and day out life."

>>>RELATED: Dayton native Allison Janney hosts Miami Valley students on LA set

The self-confessed workaholic says she's having one of the busiest years of her life, juggling a movie — "I, Tonya," in which she plays skating star Tonya Harding's mother — as well as the TV series "Mom" — and now onstage in a revival of the 1990 play "Six Degrees of Separation ."

The play's plot, based on a real-life incident, centers on a young black man claiming to be the son of actor Sidney Poitier who bamboozles his way through households of rich, supposedly sophisticated New Yorkers. Janney plays a woman whose comfortable life is jolted awake by the encounter.

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"I think the issues that are in 'Six Degrees of Separation' are issues we're still dealing with as a country — race and class and wanting to be loved. Everything in it resonates, sometimes I think more now than even then," she says. "It's such a beautiful, beautiful play and it breaks my heart every single night."

Janney's name came up for the revival of John Guare's play initially as a bit of dream casting on the part of Trip Cullman, the show's director. He fell in love with her when she was playing the fast-talking White House press secretary C.J. Cregg on television's "The West Wing."

>>>RELATED: 'The West Wing' stars stop in Dayton for campaign pitch

"You just always love to listen to Allison Janney talk," says Cullman, who said she captures both the chilly patrician essence of the "Six Degrees" role and also its enormous warmth. "She is as kind as she is talented, as funny as she is heartbreaking in the role."

That Janney snagged the Broadway gig at least in part because she previously played Cregg makes perfect sense: The actress is still a little in awe of that part she played for seven years.

"Of all the roles I've ever played, I wish I was most like her," she says. "I look up to her and wish I could be more like her. I loved her smarts, her heart, everything. It was pretty exciting to get to play her."

>>>RELATED: 10 actors you should know who were born in Dayton

Nostalgia for "The West Wing," which ended its run in 2006, is on the rise, with fans fondly recalling a steady, kindly president surrounded by staffers who were whip-smart, honorable and caring. That fictional West Wing seems better than the real thing to many people, including Janney.

"It's just a very confusing time now for the world and Washington and for all of us. It's kind of like a reality show that you don't want to watch. I know I'm having difficulty watching it. I feel unmoored," she says.

Has she watched any briefings from the real press secretary, Sean Spicer? "I have been able to watch few of them because I get so embarrassed and it is too upsetting for me to watch them," she says. "I can't even talk about it."

She may just have to find a mantra for that, too.

Jeff Goldblum reprising original role as brash mathematician in ‘Jurassic World 2’

Published: Wednesday, April 26, 2017 @ 6:28 PM

Actor Jeff Goldblum and his wife, Emilie Livingston, attend the formal Artist's Dinner honoring the recipients of the 39th Annual Kennedy Center Honors at the State Department in Washington on Dec. 3, 2016. Goldblum has signed on to reprise his original role in the movie ‘Jurassic Park’ in the latest franchise installment, ‘Jurassic World 2.’
Pool/Getty Images

 

A familiar face is returning for the latest installment in the “Jurassic Park” franchise.

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Actor Jeff Goldblum, played the brash mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm in 1993’s “Jurassic Park” and its sequel in 1997 “The Lost World,” and has now has signed on for “Jurassic World 2,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Goldblum, who also reprised his role in last year’s “Independence Day: Resurgence, sat out “Jurassic Park 3” and the series reboot “Jurassic World” in 2015.

The newest installment, “Jurassic World 2” will be directed by J.A. Bayona, and actors Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are returning for the sequel, THR confirmed.

“Jurassic World” earned almost $1.7 billion worldwide and is the fourth highest-grossing film in history, Time reported.

Madonna unhappy with biopic in works on life of Material Girl before fame

Published: Wednesday, April 26, 2017 @ 2:43 PM

Madonna in her younger years in 1988 with actor Sean Penn, who she married in 1985, then divorced 27 months later. The Material Girl is upset about a planned biopic on her life and struggles in New York before her first album was released.
DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett

 

Madonna has some strong words for the producers of a planned biopic on her younger years, before she hit the big time.

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“Nobody knows what I know and what I have seen,” she said in an Instagram post. 

“Only I can tell my story.”

Universal acquired the rights to a script, called “Blond Ambition,” about the Material Girl’s life in New York and her struggles before her first album, “Madonna,” was released, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Brett Ratner is expected to produce the film.

Madonna isn’t pleased about someone else telling her story, saying that “anyone else who tries is a charlatan and a fool.”

She said the project is an example of “instant gratification” and “disease in our society.”

 

Bill O’Reilly payout could top $25 million as anchor announces new podcast

Published: Sunday, April 23, 2017 @ 10:18 AM

Former fox news host Bill O'Reilly, pictured here waiting for the arrival of U.S. President Barack Obama during an event at the White House in February of 2014 in Washington, is launching a new podcast Monday amid reports he’s getting a $25 million payout from Fox News. 
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Ousted Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly isn’t taking his termination for sexual harassment allegations lying down. After three weeks off the air and less than a week after Fox let him go, O’Reilly is returning Monday evening with a new podcast, according to his website BillO’Reilly.com

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A banner across the top of the site reads, “Monday. The no spin news returns.” O’Reilly usually started off his Fox show “The O’Reilly Factor” with the phrase “You are about to enter the no spin zone.”

Fox is also paying O’Reilly, 67, a reported $25 million over the next year, according to NBC News, after he inked a new four-year contract with the network just last month guaranteeing he’d make at least that much.

>> Related: Opionion: Exaggerated 2012 book account should’ve been Bill O’Reilly’s unraveling at Fox

O’Reilly was terminated from the network last week after the New York Times reported in early April that Fox had paid out $13 million to five women over several years to settle sexual harassment allegations against the longtime Fox anchor.

In a statement after his ouster, O’Reilly denied the allegations, calling them “unfounded claims.”

His top-rated cable news show, on the air since 2001, generated millions of dollars in advertising revenue for Fox and consistently netted more than 3.5 million viewers a night in recent months.

Erin Moran’s cause of death released, co-star Scott Baio responds to tabloids

Published: Tuesday, April 25, 2017 @ 12:09 PM

This Feb. 19, 1982 file photo shows actress Erin Moran of the television show,

 

“Happy Days” star Erin Moran most likely died from complications of cancer.

The Harrison County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that a “joint investigation into Moran’s death was conducted” and “a subsequent autopsy revealed she likely succumbed to complications of stage 4 cancer,” TMZ reported.

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“Standard toxicology tests were performed, and the results are pending, however no illegal narcotics were found at the residence,” sheriff officials said.

On Saturday, Moran was found unresponsive in her mother-in-law’s trailer in New Salisbury, Indiana. She was 56 years old.

Neighbors in the trailer park said before her death Moran was “full of energy,” but that she had stopped leaving her home in the last few months.

>> Related: ‘Happy Days’ actress Erin Moran dead at 56

“I used to see her all the time, walking up to get the mail or just out for a stroll,” David Holt said. 

“She always waved or stopped to say hello. But I hadn’t seen her for a couple of months. She kind of hibernated at the end. It’s so sad. She was a good person.”

After her death, her “Joanie Loves Chachi” co-star Scott Baio shared his condolences on Facebook.

“May people remember Erin for her contagious smile, warm heart, and animal loving soul. I always hoped she could find peace in her life. God has you now, Erin.” 

Baio also responded to reports that he blamed Moran’s death on drug and alcohol use calling it “fake news.”

Tabloids are “stating that I'm saying drugs caused her to die after it was reported stage 4 cancer. This is so wrong! Now I truly understand the meaning of ‘Fake News.’ This is crazy,’ he posted.