- The Washington Times - Monday, March 21, 2005

Risky business

Sandra Bullock’s next movie is “Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous,” the sequel to her 2000 box-office smash. After that, she swears there’ll be no more romantic comedies, no more easy box-office bait.

“I don’t do anything anymore that feels safe,” Miss Bullock told Reuters News Agency. “If it doesn’t scare the crap out of you, then you’re not doing the right thing.”

Later this year, Miss Bullock, who has spent the past two years producing projects including TV’s “George Lopez” show, will play “To Kill a Mockingbird” author Harper Lee in “Every Word Is True,” a film based on writer Truman Capote’s research for his breakthrough nonfiction novel, “In Cold Blood,” about the murder of a Kansas family in 1959.

“It’s hard and completely different,” she said of the role.

Art of the Deal

Actor Frank Deal, who plays against type as the bullying Boston-bred Captain in “Mister Roberts” — now enjoying a full-scale revival at Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater — is a local-boy-makes-good story with a twist.

Although active in theater at McLean High School, Mr. Deal didn’t choose acting as a career until his final semester at Duke University, where he majored in political science. Even then, his parents discouraged him from making a living in the arts. So he signed up for … Macy’s department stores’ executive training program.

“I was the only male buyer in ‘women’s better wear’,” Mr. Deal joked at a cast party following Thursday’s press preview.

In New York, he connected with Arena Stage co-founder Zelda Fichandler, then teaching at the well-known Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. One thing (off-Broadway jobs) led to another (work on HBO’s “The Sopranos”), and now Mr. Deal finds himself in a starring role at the nation’s pre-eminent cultural center in his hometown.

“In my wildest dreams, I never thought my Washington debut would be on Kennedy Center’s stage,” he said.

” Ann Geracimos

Getting personal

Mega-selling Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho promises that his latest, “The Zahir,” is his most autobiographical work to date. The book hit Brazilian bookshelves yesterday and will see worldwide release April 1.

The novel’s main character is — wink, wink — a best-selling writer who tries to understand the sudden desertion of his wife, a war correspondent, according to Associated Press.

“‘The Zahir’ talks more about myself than in any other text,” Mr. Coelho told the weekly newsmagazine Isto E.

Mr. Coelho, the most widely read author in Brazilian history (65 million and counting worldwide), is best known for “The Alchemist” and “Eleven Minutes.”

Merle on Bob

Last year it was Willie Nelson. This year it’s another country legend, Merle Haggard.

How does Bob Dylan pick such touring mates? “I had my itinerary set to do some light touring in the spring and ease my way through the year, and Bob Dylan calls and wants me to tour America with him,” Mr. Haggard explained to Billboard magazine.

“He’s not just talking about once and a while; it’s 40 out of the next 60 days. But it’s Bob Dylan, and Bob Dylan’s the Einstein of music. He calls and wants you to be on his show, and your name is Merle Haggard; you’re honored.”

Asked what it’s like to be around the enigmatic Mr. Dylan, Mr. Haggard said: “I’ve rubbed shoulders with him before, and he just sorta grunts.”

Coming full circle

The Washington Shakespeare Theatre company is going home, in a manner of speaking.

An American version of “Love’s Labor’s Lost,” directed by Michael Kahn, will be performed in the Bard’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon in England in June 2006, AP reports.

The Stratford appearance is part of the Shakespeare Theatre’s 2005-06 season, announced yesterday. The season kicks off with “Othello” Aug. 30, followed by “The Comedy of Errors” (Nov. 15 through Jan. 8). Patrick Page will play Iago in “Othello,” but most of the season’s casting is yet to be determined. Among the theater’s other productions for 2005-06: Aeschylus’ “The Persians,” a reflection on the Greek conflict with Persia (now known as Iran) 2,500 years ago.

Also: Moliere’s “Don Juan” (Jan. 24 through March 19) will be presented as it originally was staged in 1665 — before it was censored by the government of French King Louis XIV — as translated, adapted and directed by Stephen Wadsworth.

Ann Geracimos

Compiled by Scott Galupo from staff and wire reports.

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