Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Denny and Edie

I've got kind of a soft spot for William Shatner. Sure, he's an easy target. He's been around so long, and in so many incarnations - the iconic Captain Kirk, T.J. Hooker, game-show contestant, pitchman. Not to mention his singing career.

I'm not a huge fan of Star Trek or police shows, but I like Shatner as Denny Crane, the eccentric lawyer he plays on ABC's Boston Legal. He's often misogynistic, bigoted, needlessly combative, obnoxious, and downright clueless. Despite everyone telling him that, he never changes. Denny's a train wreck waiting to happen every week, and it's fun to watch what he'll do next.

I'm especially looking forward to tonight's episode, the show's first in its new 10 p.m. Wednesday time period, because Christine Ebersole is a guest star. It's kind of fun now to see actors I've enjoyed on stage do guest spots on television or in movies. And I'm kind of interested to see how she'll play off Shatner.

I haven't seen Ebersole in anything since last summer, when I watched her Tony-winning performance in the musical Grey Gardens. She was terrific playing socialite Edith Bouvier Beale in the first act and her daughter Little Edie in the second act, as their lives moved from comfort to squalor in their Long Island mansion. If you've ever seen the documentary, it's especially amazing the way Ebersole brought Little Edie, with all of her eccentricities and bizarre fashion sense, to life.

On Boston Legal, she's playing a cattle rancher who hires Denny to sue the FDA to stop the sale of cloned meat. Ebersole told the New York Daily News: "It's funny, it's touching, and it was just a blast to do it." While this is a one-time shot, Ebersole says that she'd be interested in returning. "It sure would be a lot of fun," she said. "The show is incredibly clever and well- written. It's smart."

But first up, according to this story, Ebersole is making a pilot for a Lifetime situation comedy called Libertyville, where she plays a divorced woman whose grown daughter and father both live with her. And she's releasing an album, Sunday in New York, on May 13. You can hear the title track at her Web site. There's also a free mp3 download of Ebersole singing "Lullaby of Broadway,'' from the album In Your Dreams.

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