Magazine article Newsweek

Newsmakers

Magazine article Newsweek

Newsmakers

Article excerpt

Byline: Marc Peyser, Allison Samuels

Simon Says: No More Moore

Everybody complains about how nasty New York theater critics are, but what about the playwrights themselves? Last week Neil Simon decided he didn't like the performance of the star in his new off-Broadway play, "Rose's Dilemma," so he sent her a letter telling her off. "Learn your lines," he wrote, according to one published account, "or get out of my play." Never mind that the recipient of these encouraging words was one of America's longest-running sweethearts, Mary Tyler Moore. When Moore read the letter--delivered by Simon's wife only a few minutes before the Wednesday matinee--she stormed out the stage door and hasn't been seen since. Maybe she went in search of comfort from Mr. Grant.

The merits of all this are, predictably, in dispute. Simon's camp says that Moore, 66, truly hadn't learned her lines, and that he'd already rewritten an entire scene in the form of a letter so that she could simply read it. (Moore was, in fact, wearing an earpiece so that she could have lines fed to her.) Moore's people say that the play was a work in progress and that Simon, 76, was unnecessarily harsh, considering the show is in previews. (Simon does have a habit of re-writing up to the last minute, and of standing in the back of the theater obsessing over every laugh.) The show, as shows always do--at least until those critics weigh in--will go on, with Moore's understudy, Patricia Hodges, as Rose. Now the real dilemma for "Rose's Dilemma" is whether anyone will come to see a Mary Tyler Moore play without Mary.

-Marc Peyser

Q&A: Alicia Keys

Her 2001 debut album, "Songs in A Minor," was a runaway hit and a Grammy winner. Last week she released a follow-up CD, "The Diary of Alicia Keys," which, she tells NEWSWEEK's Allison Samuels, is better. …

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