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The Gilded Age received a SAG Award Nomination for Best Ensemble Cast, and HBO MAX invited all those who could go to attend the Ceremony at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles (February 23rd -26th) It was apparent early on that we were unlikely to win: “Succession” was at Table 2, and we were at Table 53. But we had a wonderful weekend, and were delighted to catch up with old friends and to meet the delightful Lily Gladstone* and her cast-mate from “Killers of The Flower Moon” William Bellau.













I did receive The Washington Irving Award For Excellence in The Arts from the Saint Nicholas Society of the City of New York the day before leaving for LA, so I wasn’t empty-handed.











 

There were two talks on “All that glitters is not gold – behind the scenes of “The Gilded Age” – at The Lotos and The Harvard Clubs, and at the latter location was Co-Guest of Honor (with Ben Ahlers) at the 158th Annual Gala of The Horological Society of NY on April 6th.* For The Coffee House, of which I’m honorary President, I hosted a straw Poll for The Oscars, and wielded the gavel for the Annual Coffee House Auction. I also served as MC for the Annual Gala benefit for The Floating Hospital at Guastavino’s on June 4th.


The audiobook of Agatha Christie’s “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” received a rave review in AudioFile, and resulted in my fifth consecutive Earphones Award.

 








Coming soon: “When the Sea Came Alive” the audio ensemble drama of Garrett Graff’s book of the same name, in which I give a respectable version of Winston Churchill, and for Dreamscape Media, “A Delicate Truth” by John le Carre.

 


Look out also for the September Issue of Vogue Magazine, available in August, for which I participated in a photo shoot for the cover by Baz Luhrman. My colleague in “Gilded” Morgan Spector, along with Marc Kudisch and Ali Fazal were also rounded up for the shoot with Hugh Jackman and Blake Lively.

 

June began with two zoom read-throughs of first four episodes of Season Three, two episodes a session, and filming begins on July 9th.



And finally: Idly watching on TCM, “The Grass is Greener” (1961) directed by Stanley Donen, and starring Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr, Robert Mitchum, Jean Simmons, on February 3rd, I’m amazed to see Moray Watson as Sellers the butler wearing Arthur Dent’s dressing gown. That’s nearly twenty years before I wore it on the TV version of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (and seventeen years before I worked with Deborah in “Candida” at the Albery Theatre in London’s West End.)

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At last, on October 29th Season Two of “The Gilded Age” started to stream on MAX, and other streaming services around the world, including New Zealand , to the delight of my recently visited family there. As of writing there is still no word from Warner Media whether there will be a Season Three. More to come soon...??



I had the pleasure of being an Honored Guest, escorting Donna Murphy who received an Excellence in Arts Award, at the 188th Annual Saint Nicholas Society of The City of New York, at the Union Club. In the Nineteenth Century, it was populated with many of the prominent members of Gilded Age Society, so it seemed appropriate that they should celebrate “Mrs. Caroline Astor” ( as Donna plays in the TV Series).



My recording of Dan Ariely’s “Misbelief” was named one of the Best Audio Books of 2023 and given the Earphones Award by AudioFile Magazine.






I narrated the last Advent Concert at Marble Collegiate Church, in 2022, of the retiring Music Director, Kenneth Dake. This year I happily complied with a request from the new Director Michael Hey to perform the readings in “A Caroling We Go – Concert and Carol Sing” in the same venue.







For The Coffee House’s 108th Annual Dinner at The Salmagundi Club, I joined Nancy Winston, with Steve Brown, deviser and narrator in a concert called “Smash Flops – the greatest songs you’ve never heard from musicals you’ve never heard of."






There was an appearance as a Famous TV Naturalist (an early draft of the script said “Naturist” but it was a misprint and would have commanded a bigger fee than the program’s entire budget) in a short film called “Friends not Fur” by Peter Stray and Felicia Greenfield.


Episode 68 of the podcast, “The Gilded Gentleman”, featuring an in-depth interview by the host Carl Raymond, is now available on Apple podcasts.

Here is the link:

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It’s been a year since I made an entry here. Have I been too busy? Well, yes and no.


HBO (now Max) postponed the airing of Season Two of “The Gilded Age” from April to a tentative date in September, and now will air for sure starting on October 29th. The series was ready at the turn of the year. Whether there will be a Season Three depends on audience/subscriber figures, which will only become evident to Warner Media after several episodes have been streamed. It will be available on MAX in the US and Sky Atlantic and NOW in the UK. The first season is now on DVD.

So do your best to see it and tell your friends so that the saga of the Brooks and Russell houses can continue.


The WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes have seriously affected productions, as intended, but it now looks, following the Writers settling, that the actors will be back to work sooner rather than later.


One casualty so far has been our filming “Trouble in Mind”, the play by Alice Childress, that ran on Broadway at The Roundabout in the fall of 2021. I played a senile Irish doorman with ace colleagues such as LaChanze and Chuck Cooper. Charles Randolph Wright is determined to go ahead as soon as he can, with the original theatre cast, and our fingers are crossed for that.



Before the strike, I did an (uncredited) Winston Churchill voice-over as a chatbot for Season 4 Episode 9 of CBS TV’s “Evil”.


In early July I recorded “Misbelief”, the latest book by Dan Ariely, the eminent behavioral scientist, for whom I’ve been a long-term reader. It will be released on Harper Audio.


In September, I performed an audio version for Alison Larkin Presents of Agatha Christie’s “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.” It was my first crack at Hercule Poirot – who has already been represented by a procession of fine actors – and I relished the challenge.

In February I finally visited my elder brother Chris in Whakatane, New Zealand. He emigrated there in 1965. We’ve seen each other in other parts of the world, but it was my first in-person trip. Air New Zealand inaugurated non-stop flights from New York last September, so the time was certainly right. My trip was accompanied by Cyclone Gabrielle which devastated the Hawkes Bay area to the East of North Island, coming on the heels of the wettest summer on record. There was record flooding, an earthquake or two off-shore, and a tornado near the airport. Somehow I was always in a different part of the country and avoided it all, as did, I’m thankful to report, my brother’s family. At his request, I gave a talk to the Edgcumbe Lions on “Behind the Scenes of The Gilded Age”. A surprising number in the audience had seen it, and we had a good evening, even though the beer was judged distinctly below par. Perhaps the flood water had seeped into the barrel…


In May, I answered the call for Jury service and after a day in the holding room at New York Civil Court, was found, along with my companions, to be surplus to requirements, and dismissed for another four years.


June 20th was named “Simon Jones Day” by AudioFile Magazine in their Salute to Golden Voices.


In May I was the auctioneer for The Coffee House Club’s first annual auction since the pandemic, and surprisingly raised ten thousand dollars from thirty-five people.


To mark the end of his tenure, I was glad to be the reader for the Last Maundy Thursday Service at Marble Collegiate Church presided over by retiring Musical Director and good friend Kenneth Dake. I wish him a fruitful change of gear/career.

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