EXCLUSIVE Past Oscar nominee and likely 2017 winner Viola Davis got an especially thrilling congrats last week after winning the Critics Choice Award of Best Supporting Actress in “Fences.” She tells me the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, sent her a huge bouquet of roses with this card: “From one natural woman to another.”
“Oh my god,” Viola said, a sentiment echoed by her producer husband Julius Tennon. “You should see these flowers. I couldn’t believe it!” We talked last night at Tavern on the Green at the New York “Fences” premiere party after a wildly successful screening at the Rose Room in Jazz at Lincoln Center. Director-star Denzel Washington was there with the entire cast. Guests ran the gamut from Phylicia Rashad and Ruben Santiago Hudson to Michael Moore.
Aretha was inspired by Davis’s speech accepted the #SeeHer award and the. She said: “I’ve always discovered the heart of my characters by asking ‘why?’ I truly believe that the privilege of a lifetime is being who you are. I just recently embraced that at 51.”
Davis is a hot as a pistol right now thanks to “Fences” and her hit TV show “How to Get Away with Murder.” Viola is so hot that I can tell you exclusively that Meryl Streep is presenting her with a Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 5th, three days before the Golden Globes.
“Fences” opens Christmas Day, and it’s poised for a nice box office take and many Oscar nominations. Seeing it again last night, I was blown away by the August Wilson play which has been adapted and opened up for film. Washington has done a remarkable job. But it’s the performances by every cast member that are heart-rending. Davis is already being talked about like crazy. But Denzel Washington is no slouch. As Troy Maxson, Denzel is on screen most of the time. He is ferociously invested in Troy, revealing him in ways that elevate “Fences” to the venerated status of “Death of a Salesman.” We are witnessing a classic in the making.
Paramount is on fire, too– “Fences,” “Silence,” “Arrival” are all in the Oscar mix along with “Florence Foster Jenkins.” Three months ago everyone feared for Paramount. Now everyone wants to come to their parties. Ah, Hollywood.
photo c2016 Showbiz411 by Paula Schwartz