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Jan 22 2013
Backwards And In High Heels: Holland Taylor's Tribute To Ann Richards Comments (7)

Holland-Taylor-AnnI spent half my day trudging around in the bitter cold running errands, including walking from 42nd/11th to Madison/56th and back to get my camera fixed—only to be handed a business card and sent away once I got there.

So tonight, almost nothing was gonna drag me away from cuddling with two exceptionally hairy Shih Tzu dogs.

Except Holland Taylor.

She was participating in an "Inside Look" event at The Greene Space, and I would have swum across the East River for that.

Holland-TaylorFrom here: Taylor transforms into Richards

IMG_1347Ms. Taylor—with whom I've been fascinated ever since her delicious role on Bosom Buddies—has written Ann, a Broadway-bound, one-woman show about the late, great Ann Richards that opens in March. Richards, a force in Texas politics who went from being its most successful state treasurer to an incredibly popular Democratic governor after exploding onto the national stage with her 1988 keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention. Renowned for her zingers and her vision as a progressive, she died of esophageal cancer at 73.

DSC05505Taylor took the part of "Ruth" on Bosom Buddies to raise her profile for Broadway parts

DSC05524The evening was a delight. Taylor, 70, has a regal air and elocution that perfectly frames her wit, her broadly engaging sense of story-telling and her intelligence. She seems like foreign-born royalty, not a chick born in Philly. The long and short of it is: She shits fabulousness.

Actually, to hear her speak of Ann Richards's magnetic charm and personable nature, it was hard to imagine who but Taylor would have played her—but it almost didn't happen. Taylor recalled wanting to do something with the governor's life story but had to remind herself, "You know people who produce things. You know George Clooney, Tom Hanks." She said she pulled over to the side of the road while driving one day because she was so overwhelmed with a rush of ideas on how to stage Ann—though it's been through several major overhauls, the basic structure of the show was born in what sounds like a 15-minute fever dream, one during which Taylor was wide awake.

DSC05514WQXR's Elliott Forrest provided the Q, Taylor the A

DSC05525She's performed the show in Texas, Chicago and D.C. to enthusiastic reviews. But she made clear that the most important reviews have come from Richards's family. I asked Taylor if she'd been terrified performing Ann for the governor's family the first time, and she said she'd told the family—who had cooperated with her research—that she did not expect them to attend her show; after all, this had been their dear mother. But attend it they did, and the day after she opened, Richards's two sons wrote her a glowing note of approval. Taylor became emotional remembering this (I wasn't trying to "Barbara Walters" you, Holland!), saying it freed her to never again worry about whether she was getting the real Ann—if she couldn't rely on the assurances of the Richards offspring, on whose could she rely?

It was a great talk, one that is available in its entirety (my question toward the end) here. Taylor also remembered Bosom Buddies fondly (it's where she met the man who would go on to produce Ann!), said she has been furiously texting with Tom Hanks about their upcoming concurrent Broadway runs (Hanks will appear in The Lucky Guy with their Bosom Buddies bosom buddy Peter Scolari) and said that as a part of the cast of Two and a Half Men, she spent time worrying whether Charlie Sheen would be alive from day to day during his mental break. (She says she is very fond of him, and that everyone on the show felt for him.)

Holland-Taylor-Matthew-RettenmundI'm actually wind-burned from today! (Or is it a tan from her star power?)

After, she was kind enough to pose for a picture with me and to sign two autographs—one for me and one for my e-friend Kevin, who sends me wonderful tips for the blog as well as bringing this event to my attention in the first place.

Tickets for Ann are available here.

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