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Ian McKellen, Kevin Kline get Emmy nods for televised stage performances

July 16, 2009 | 11:26 am
Kinglear2


Call it one of the award industry's stranger quirks: Stage productions that were filmed for TV broadcast are eligible for the Emmys, according to the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

This morning, the Emmy nominations were announced and among the recipients were Ian McKellen for "King Lear" and Kevin Kline for "Cyrano de Bergerac," both of whom were recognized in the category of actor in a miniseries or movie.

"King Lear" and "Cyrano" originated as stage productions that eventually aired on PBS' "Great Performances" series.

"Lear," directed by Trevor Nunn, was originally produced in Britain by the Royal Shakespeare Company and toured the U.S. in repertory with Chekhov's "The Seagull," both of which came to UCLA Live! in October 2007. McKellen's appearance as Lear caused a run on tickets in L.A., with scalpers commanding prices unheard of for classical theater.

In his review, Times critic Charles McNulty wrote: "Technical virtuosity has always been McKellen's signature strength and weakness, and the Olympian challenge here puts both on display. The choices he makes -- from the surprising inflections he gives familiar lines to the way he can punctuate a moment with a simple prop -- are unfailingly vivid, but they occasionally underscore themselves, as though marking their own brilliance."

"Lear" was broadcast on PBS in March 2009.

"Cyrano" opened on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in November 2007 to generally strong reviews, though it failed to win any Tony awards. Kline played Edmund Rostand's big-nosed romantic hero opposite Jennifer Garner's Roxane. The production was directed by David Leveaux.

On the occasion the play's January 2009 PBS broadcast, Times television critic Robert Lloyd wrote that Kline "gives a remarkably subtle -- given that he is playing a superhero -- yet room-filling performance. The part suits him perfectly, playing to his talents for comedy and swashbuckling and for communicating a kind of suppressed inner sadness."

Also among this year's nominations are three actresses who can currently be seen on Broadway.

Hope Davis and Tony-winner Marcia Gay Harden, both of whom are starring in "God of Carnage," received nominations for their roles in HBO's "In Treatment" and CBS' "The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler," respectively.

Janet McTeer, who can be seen in the revival of "Mary Stuart," is nominated for her role in HBO's "Into the Storm."

 -- David Ng

Photo: Ian McKellen in the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of "King Lear." Credit:  PBS / Great Performances.

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