Saturday, April 2, 2011

EGOT Alert: could Robin WIlliams join the club?

I'm not someone who likes to hype things up. This is true mostly because I've seen so much amped-up hype fizzle miserably.  This is very true for awards season, most specifically the Oscars and the Tonys (mind you, this isn't going to be a Tony or a theatre blog, I'm just making an observation).  But I must cave into my hype on this one for a few reasons, but mostly because of a potential new EGOT champ.

On March 31st, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo staring Robin Williams opened on Broadway at the Richard Rogers Theatre.  Williams received mostly positive reviews, though many single out the play for its excellence more than Williams himself, who plays the titular caged beast.  The most glowing review comes from Charles McNulty over at the LA Times, saying :

Williams submits himself wholly to the play's utterly natural surrealism. Concerns that the actor might turn this into a vehicle for his signature shtick are dispelled right way: Williams is in complete sync with the blasted tragicomic vision of the playwright, whose ample humor is far too sneaky for stand-up showboating...He's put himself at the drama's service.

An EGOT--invented my infamous non-EGOTer Philip Michael Thomas--represents the the Grand Slam of industry awards   an Emmy (TV), Grammy (music), Oscar (film), and Tony (stage).  Someone who EGOTs receives one of each, an impressive feat since few actors ever nab even one.  Williams is nearly there, having an Oscar (as the Best Supporting Actor of 1997 for Good Will Hunting), two Emmys, and four Grammys on his mantle.  This leaves only the Tony.

In the over 80 years the oldest award (the Oscar) has existed, only 10 artists have completed this daunting task.  They range from actors (Helen Hayes, Rita Moreno, John Gielgud, Audrey Hepburn, Whoopi Goldberg) to musicians (Richard Rogers, Marvin Hamlisch, Jonathan Tunick) to writers and directors (Mike Nichols, Mel Brooks).  Note that Bengal Tiger just opened at the Richard Rogers Theatre...a sign?

the face of an EGOTer?
Of course, though, Williams will have to survive the very unpredictable Tony season.  In the past, the Tonys used to turn a cold shoulder to celebrities-turned-Broadway-stars, but at last year's ceremony, Denzel Washington, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Scarlett Johanson all took home highly-competitive acting Tonys over more unknown stage stars.  So a potential Tony victory isn't out of the question, but when it comes to the Tonys, the voters typically hold staunchly to their guns and vote for what they actually consider the best, never giving into media hype or overdue status.

Currently, Williams stands alongside greats John Williams, Barbra Streisand, Randy Newman, Cher, Julie Andrews, and Michael Giacchino as Tony-less potential EGOTers.  

Also, it should be noted that I'm not trying to make news out of nothing.  I bring this up only because the potential for witnessing a complete EGOT is rare.  The last chance we had, by my calculation, was in 2009 when Liza Minnelli lost the Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.  Before that was in 2002, when John Kander and Fred Ebb lost the Best Original Song Oscar to Eminem.  The most recent member to the club is Whoopi Goldberg, who became a member in 10 years ago in 2001.  Chances to see it are few and far between.  I tend to keep my eyes peeled.  Here's wishing luck to Williams to complete and EGOT...and become the first EGOTer (and Tony winner?) to be awarded for playing an animal.


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