'OZ's Meloni, Winterset al. Lead Primary Stage's GODFATHER IV Benefit, 5/2

Primary Stages (Casey Childs, Founder & Executive Producer; Andrew Leynse, Artistic Director; Elliot Fox, Managing Director) concludes its celebratory 25th Anniversary Season with a special celebrity benefit stage reading performance of Godfather IV written by Emmy Award-winner Tom Fontana ("St. Elsewhere," "OZ"), with original music by Stephen Elkins. The reading is a collaborative effort between Primary Stages and the Writers Guild of America, East Foundation, for which Fontana is Foundation president. Proceeds from the reading will benefit both organizations.

The celebrity cast features Christopher Meloni ("Law & Order SVU," "OZ"), Lee Tergesen (HBO's "Generation Kill," "OZ", "Desperate Housewives"), and Dean Winters ("Life on Mars," "30 Rock," "Rescue Me," "OZ"). Directed by Linda Laundra, the celebrity ensemble will feature Mike Doyle, Zeljko Ivanek, Terry Kinney, David Laundra, Kristin Rohde, Eamonn Walker, and Catherine Wolf, with a special appearance by Mr. Fontana (all subject to continuing availability).

The special two performance fundraising event is set for Sunday, May 2, 2010 at 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. at Primary Stages at 59E59 Theaters (59 East 59th Street).

Godfather IV finds three actors from the HBO Series "OZ" sitting in a diner, talking about their careers and the works of various screen immortals. When one of the trio (Chris Meloni) attacks the plausibility of the Jack Woltz scene in the movie The Godfather, the other two (Lee Tergesen, Dean Winters) decide to "re-enact" the scene by sneaking a horse's head into Meloni's bed. Unexpected complications arise.

Tickets are priced at $75 for Premium Seating and $50 for General Seating. 

Tom Fontana, President, Writers Guild of America, East Foundation, has written and produced such ground breaking television series as "St. Elsewhere," "Homicide: Life On The Street," and "Oz," for which he has received, among others, three Emmy Awards, four Peabody Awards, three Writers' Guild Awards, four Television Critics Association Awards, the CableACE Award, the Humanitas Prize, a Special Edgar, and the first prize at the Cinema Tout Ecran Festival in Geneva. Fontana wrote the HBO film "Strip Search," directed by Sidney Lumet, and contributed two pieces to the September 11th special "America: A Tribute to Heroes." He was the executive producer of "American Tragedy" for CBS, "Shot in the Heart" for HBO Films, the documentary "The Press Secretary" for PBS, and the independent films Jean, In Good Conscience and Anytown, USA. He has written articles for such periodicals as The New York Times, TV Guide and Esquire Magazine and has taught at Columbia, Syracuse, Rutgers and the State University College at Buffalo, his alma mater, from which he received the Distinguished Alumni Award and an Honorary Doctorate of Letters. Fontana has had numerous plays produced in New York, where he lives, and at San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre, the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, the Buffalo Studio Arena Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival and McCarter Theatre Company. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild, the Producers Guild of America, the Friars Club, The Players Club, the American Theatre Wing, and the Writers Guild of America, East, from which he received the Evelyn F. Burkey Award for Lifetime Achievement. Fontana serves on the boards of Stockings with Care, People for the American Way Foundation, The Creative Coalition, The Acting Company, The Williamstown Theatre Festival, and is President of the WGAE Foundation.

The Writers Guild of America, East Foundation is the charitable foundation of the Writers Guild of America, East, the labor union representing writers in motion pictures, television, cable, digital media, and broadcast news. The WGAE Foundation's mission is to perpetuate the art and craft of storytelling, either by professionals or amateurs, through education and practical experience, on local, national and global levels; to find the next generation of writers in fiction, nonfiction, television, radio, film, theatre, and new media; to encourage WGAE members and staff to contribute their expertise to Foundation activities, thereby expanding the base and breadth of knowledge, as well as increasing the solidarity and power of the writing community in the larger world; and to work with other likeminded organizations in order to facilitate and expand the needs and goals of writers everywhere. For more information on the WGAE Foundation, visit www.wgaefoundation.org.

Primary Stages has given life to more than 100 new plays, many of them world premieres, by writers such as Horton Foote, A.R. Gurney, Willy Holtzman, Julia Jordan, Romulus Linney, Donald Margulies, Melissa Manchester, Terrence McNally, John Henry Redwood, John Patrick Shanley, Mac Wellman, Lee Blessing and Michele Lowe. The company also continues to work with emerging playwrights through commissions and its artist development program, The Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group.

Over the years, the company has received considerable critical acclaim and numerous theater and literary awards and nominations, including TONY, Obie, AUDELCO, Outer Critics Circle, Lucille Lortel , Drama League and Drama Desk Awards. The Fourth Wall, All in the Timing, The Old Settler, Missing/Kissing, The Model Apartment, Scotland Road, You Should Be So Lucky, The Stendhal Syndrome, Sabina, Dividing the Estate and In The Continuum are among the many plays brought to national attention by Primary Stages.

Primary Stages is honored to be the Resident Theater Company of 59E59 Theaters since its inauguration in 2004. 59E59 Theaters is a state of the art theater center on Manhattan's East side which provides a home to numerous visiting companies, theater festivals, and artists throughout the year. www.59e59.org.

For more information, visit www.primarystages.org.

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