Azaria & Simpson Set for Farnsworth Invention; Opens 11/14
Tony Award-nominee Hank Azaria stars as David Sarnoff, and Jimmi Simpson as Philo T. Farnsworth in Aaron Sorkin's new American play about the advent of television, The Farnsworth Invention, directed by two-time Tony Award winner Des McAnuff, opening on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre on Wednesday, November 14, 2007 with previews beginning on Monday, October 15, 2007. The Farnsworth Invention marks Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning writer Aaron Sorkin's ("The West Wing") return to Broadway for the first time since his hit 1989 play A Few Good Men.The play will be produced on Broadway by Dodger Properties with Steven Spielberg, Dan Cap Productions, Fred Zollo, Latitude Link and the Pelican Group. Additional casting will be announced shortly.The play "centers around the bitter conflict that pitted Philo T. Farnsworth (Jimmi Simpson), a boy genius who invented television as a high school student in 1927, against David Sarnoff (Hank Azaria), the head of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). The legal battle between Farnsworth and RCA would later become known as one of the great, tragic examples of legal and industrial force combining to crush a rightful patent owner. In a race that would change humanity forever, two men battle one another for honor, glory and a place in the history books," state press notes. Hank Azaria (David Sarnoff) last appeared on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning musical Spamalot (Tony Award nomination). He also appeared on stage in Sexual Perversity in Chicago (West End, London). Azaria's film credits include Eulogy; Along Came Polly; Shattered Glass; America's Sweethearts; Cradle Will Rock; Mystery Men; Mystery, Alaska; Godzilla; Great Expectations; Celebrity; The Birdcage; Heat; Grosse Pointe Blank; Now and Then; Quiz Show; and Pretty Woman; His television credits include "Huff," "Uprising," "Tuesdays with Morrie" (Emmy Award), and "Fail Safe." He played guest starring roles on "Friends" (Emmy nomination), and "Mad About You" (Emmy nomination); and he lends his voice to numerous characters on "The Simpsons" (three Emmy Awards). Azaria directed the short film "Nobody's Perfect," which debuted at Sundance 2004. Upcoming films include The Simpsons movie and Run, Fat Boy, Run. Jimmi Simpson (Philo T. Farnsworth) is a New Jersey native and received his degree in theatre from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. Upon graduating, he continued his training with four seasons at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. After working in New York for several years he moved to Los Angeles. The Farnsworth Invention marks Mr. Simpson's second time working with Des McAnuff, having starred in Tartuffe in 2002 at La Jolla Playhouse. Theatre credits include: The Rainmaker (Broadway); Camino Real, The Winter's Tale, The Blue Demon and Olive Nightingale Sings(Williamstown Theatre Foundation); Assassins and A Midsummer Night's Dream (Bloomburg Players). TV credits include: "24," "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," "My Name is Earl," "Carnivale," "Cold Case," "NYPD Blue," and Stephen King's "Rose Red." Film: Patriotville, Zodiac, Seraphim Falls, Herbie: Fully Loaded, Stay Alive, D.E.B.S., Slo-Mo and Loser. Aaron Sorkin (Playwright) graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater. After a brief stint as an actor, he quickly established a reputation as a young, promising playwright on the New York theatre scene with his 1989 Broadway play A Few Good Men, later made into a critically-acclaimed feature. He went on to write the films Maliceand The American President. Sorkin is probably best known for his critically-lauded TV drama, "The West Wing," which was honored with 13 Emmy Awards for its debut season, making the show a record holder for most Emmys won by a series in a single season. The Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series has been awarded to each of the first four seasons of "The West Wing." Sorkin also created and wrote many of the episodes of the critically-acclaimed but short-lived TV comedy-drama "Sports Night," which ran from 1998-2000 on ABC. His most recent series was NBC's "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." Upcoming films include Charlie Wilson's War starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts to be released in December. As a writer, Mr. Sorkin has received numerous nominations and awards from the Hollywood Foreign Press, the Television Critics Association, the Producers Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America. Des McAnuff (Director) is a two-time Tony Award-winning director and was recently named Co-Artistic Director of the Stratford Festival of Canada. He is Director Emeritus of La Jolla Playhouse, which he has headed for much of the past 25 years. Broadway credits (developed at the Playhouse): Jersey Boys, Billy Crystal's 700 Sundays (Broadway 2004, Tony Award); Dracula: The Musical (2004); How to Succeed (1995); The Who's Tommy (director/co-author with Pete Townshend, 1993 Tony Award Best Director of a Musical; 1997 London Olivier Awards Best Director/Best Musical); A Walk in the Woods (1988); and Big River(1985, seven Tonys including Best Director of a Musical and Best Musical). Recent productions directed at the Playhouse: The Wiz (2006); Zhivago (2005); Palm Beach(2005); Private Fittings (2005); Tom Donaghy's Eden Lane(2003); Tartuffe (2002); Michael Ondaatje's The Collected Works of Billy the Kid (2001). Film credits: Cousin Bette and The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (director), Iron Giant (producer), Quills (executive producer).The Farnsworth Invention design team will be comprised of Klara Zieglerova (Scenic Design), David C. Woolard (Costume Design), Howell Binkley (Lighting Design), Walter Trarbach (Sound Design). The creative team also includes Andrew Lippa (original music) and Lisa Shriver (choreography). The play debuted at La Jolla Playhouse in a "Page To Stage" workshop production, running February 20, 2007 through March 25, 2007.Performance schedule and ticket information will follow.
Photo of Hank Azaria by Jeff Vespa