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JULY:

“Presence, the Play” won the: Mary Shelley Award for Fiction from the MEA (Media Ecology Foundation founded by Marshall McLuhan and Neil Postman) on July 9th.





The Gilded Age was nominated for one Emmy for: Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Period or Fantasy Program (one hour or more) for Episode One: “Never The New”.


In the meantime, I was made a member of The Television Academy, the body that oversees the Emmy Awards, but too late to vote.

I was filming on my 72nd birthday, and was caught by surprise in what I thought was a ‘take’ by a serenade of “Happy Birthday’ from cast and crew, led by the most excellent Christine Baranski.

AUGUST:

Only scheduled for one day’s filming this month in Albany on the 11th, I raced back to NYC that evening, caught a plane for London on the 12th and made it, in spite of a rail strike, to Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire with son Tim to join in the celebration of the 100th Birthday of my Uncle John Mills (my late Mother’s younger brother).

He must have been one of the last recipients of a birthday card from HM The Queen, and a personal letter from the then Prince Charles in his capacity as Patron of The Burma Star Association. Uncle John is one of a handful of survivors of the Burma Campaign of World War Two. He caught Dengue fever and was airlifted to Deolali. *


He recovered from various illnesses, and now at 100 is anything but “doolally” (see note).

The party was at The Petwood Hotel which in the 1940s housed the Officers Mess of 617 Squadron (“The Dambusters”) There is a rusting specimen of a Bouncing Bomb (invented by Barnes Wallis for the raid on the Mohne and Eder dams) in the grounds, So it was an appropriate locale for the birthday. Though his military career accounts for about 7 years out his score of 100. Curious to reflect that he has been retired for longer than he worked – for Reed International Paper.


*Deolali was a British Army camp 100 miles north-east of Mumbai (then called Bombay). It was the original location of the Army Staff College (now the Defence Services Staff College of India and the Pakistan Command and Staff College).

It is also the source of the British slang noun doolally tap, loosely meaning "camp fever", and referring to the apparent madness of men waiting for ships back to Britain after finishing their tour of duty. By the 1940s this had been widely shortened to just "doolally", an adjective meaning "mad (insane)" or "eccentric".[3]

As I wasn’t required for The Gilded Age until September 9th, I stayed in the UK until September 1st.


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My first day of shooting for “The Gilded Age” Season Two was originally scheduled for June 21st, so I went for a stay in England from May 10th –June 10th. But some positive Covid tests upended the filming schedule, and I had to return on the 4th, to film on the 5th.


It was no great inconvenience: I was there for HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee (familiarly known as The Platty Jooby) and was even present at the lighting of the brazier atop the Worcestershire Beacon, the highest point of the Malvern Hills, and found watching the appearance of twinkling lights all across from the Welsh Mountains to the Cotswold Hills quite exhilarating, as was the descent from the Beacon in the dark with the path lit by our mobile phones.


Return to the Brook House kitchen set with my old friends was highly enjoyable, and it’s good to be back involved in what promises to be an even more engrossing Second Season than the First.


Jesse Green of The New York Times predicted that “Trouble in Mind” and LaChanze would win Tonys but it was not to be. However, the show achieved four Antonyo Award nominations, the winners to be announced in the Fall.


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On May 4th, I gave a concert of Victorian Parlor Songs, entitled “Bannister Sings – The Butler Did It”, accompanied by Nancy Winston, at The Salmagundi Club, 147 Fifth Avenue, NYC.


“Trouble in Mind” stacked up a series of award nominations: on May 9th for 4 Tony Awards: “Best Revival of a Play”, Best Leading Actress in a Play (La Chanze), Best Featured Actor in a Play (Chuck Cooper) and Best Costumes (Emilio Sosa); and on May 16th, for 2 Drama Desk Awards - for Best Revival of a Play and Best Featured Actor (Chuck Cooper). On May 17th LaChanze won the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play.



“Presence the Play” by William E. Jefferson, in which I played “Lucifer” recorded at Radio Waves Studios on August 10th 2021, produced by Sue Zizza. wins Two Gold Communicator Awards for Excellence in Writing and Editing, now available from Audible via Blackstone Publishing. (May 11th)


Because “The Gilded Age – Season Two" had no need of my presence until June 21st, a trip to London from May 10th seemed obvious, so that I could be present for HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee (The Platty Jooby, as it was called on line.).


In an echo from the past, “Muck and Brass” by Tom Clarke, a six-part mini-series, produced

by Central Independent Television, dating from 1982 was re-aired on UK’s Channel 8 and London Live. The show was about a thoroughly corrupt property developer in the British Midlands, played by Mel Smith. I was a smooth and slimy merchant banker called, aptly, Basil Bastedes.


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