The Hit Parade
Alumni stars continue to shine on the big and small screens.
Medford/Somerville, Mass. [07.08.10] If you're seeking refuge from the heat in an air-conditioned movie theater, chances are you'll run into a Jumbo. Tufts graduates are making a run on the marquees, with a variety of films either playing now or in the works.
"Solitary Man," written and co-directed by Brian Koppelman (A'88) and starring Michael Douglas as a disgraced businessman attempting to reclaim his life, is running on the art house cinema circuit this summer and will be released on DVD on September 7.
"It's a story about the power of charm and how a truly charming man can get away with so much [bad] behavior for such an incredibly long time until it starts becoming really corrosive from the inside out," Koppelman said in publicity materials for the film, which he co-directed with David Levien. The duo also co-wrote the screenplays for "Rounders,""Runaway Jury" and "Ocean's Thirteen."
The New York Times called "Solitary Man""smartly written" and "nimbly directed."
Another film on the art house circuit, "Please Give," stars Oliver Platt (A'83) as Alex, the husband of a woman (portrayed by Catherine Keener) facing moral quandaries in life, business and real estate.
Platt, according to NBC New York's PopcornBiz blog, is "his usual charming and funny self," while USA Today called him "wonderfully likable."
The film's screenwriter and director, Nicole Holofcener, admits crafting the role of Alex with Platt in mind.
"He's funny and attractive in an unconventional way," she said in a press release. "It's one of those intuitive things. He just felt right. He has this hysterical low-ball humor, but he also can be dramatic, and he's really likeable. That's important, because he does this skunky thing."
The fourth season of AMC's "Mad Men" debuts July 25. In March, we spoke with two Tufts alums -- Chris Brown (A'91) and Geoff Mendel (A'80) -- who help create the show's sleek visual appeal. Read story
Platt is also prepping for the debut of "The Big C" on Showtime on August 16. The black comedy centers on a suburban mom, portrayed by Laura Linney, who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Platt plays her immature but well-meaning husband.
"It's beautifully written, because it's shot through with the absurdity of life and shot through with a lot of irony, but it's still very respectful of the disease," Platt told Ain't It Cool News. "It doesn't take the suffering that it causes people lightly at all." Gabourey Sidibe ("Precious") and Cynthia Nixon ("Sex and the City") co-star.
In June, Platt was honored as one of four recipients of the 6th annual Tufts-sponsored P.T. Barnum Awards for excellence in entertainment, part of an ongoing effort to bring alumni together from the arts, entertainment and media communities. The other winners were TV producers Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern (J'86) and dance choreographer Art Bridgman (A'72). Hank Azaria (A'85) and Joel Bishoff (A'83) shared emcee duties.
This fall will see Platt and Azaria, who previously co-starred on the Showtime series "Huff," share the screen once more in the film "Love and Other Drugs," slated for release on November 24. The movie, based on the Jamie Reidy memoir "Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman," stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a pharmaceutical rep hawking the male performance enhancement drug.
Azaria has a few other projects in the pipeline. August 2011 is the scheduled release date for the 3D live-action/computer-animated "Smurfs" movie, which features the Tufts alum as the Smurfs' nemesis Gargamel. The film recently wrapped shooting in New York City.
A few months later, in November 2011, Azaria will star in another 3D animated feature film, "Happy Feet 2." He recorded the voice tracks in Sydney earlier this year.
This week, Azaria was also nominated for an Emmy award in the category of Outstanding Voice-Over Performance for his work on "The Simpsons."
Among other Tufts grads making Hollywood news this summer, Gary Winick (A'84) directed "Letters to Juliet," a romantic comedy about love old and new starring Amanda Seyfried and Vanessa Redgrave. The film has been nominated for two Teen Choice Awards.
EDIT, 7/21/2010: Actors Peter Gallagher (A'77) and Sendhil Ramamurthy (A'96) also have a new project. They are starring in the new USA series "Covert Affairs," which premiered July 13.