S.C. native Patina Miller earns Tony nomination

Patina Miller, last on Broadway in “Sister Act,” stepped into the Ben Vereen role of Leading Player in “Pippin” and earned her second Tony nomination.

“Pippin” this week was nominated for 10 Tonys, including Miller, a native of Pageland in Chesterfield County who attended the S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities.

With her first nomination, for “Sister Act,” she said, “I was so nervous about saying and doing the right things. This time, I’ve enjoyed it, I’ve been given a great opportunity and I want to keep enjoying it. Not a lot of people get to experience something like this.”

On being nominated for “Pippin” as best performance by an actress in a leading role in a musical, Miller said, “It’s an amazing collaborative experience. That was enough for me. Then to be recognized by a Broadway community I’m so proud to be part of is mind-blowing.”

Miller will vie for that Tony on June 9 with fellow nominees Stephanie J. Block, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”; Carolee Carmello, “Scandalous”; Valisia LeKae, “Motown The Musical”; and Laura Osnes, “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella.”

“Pippin” is a whimsical coming-of-age story about the son of the first Holy Roman Emperor.

There is much nostalgia for the show, which originally opened in 1972 and ran for five years. Then directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse, it starred Vereen as the Leading Player, an emcee-like role that won him a best actor Tony. (Fosse, who died in 1987, won Tonys for direction and choreography.)

When it came to casting the new version, director Diane Paulus thought there was nothing that said the Leading Player had to be a man. All she needed was someone who could convey the power of seduction as well as Vereen.

And so, Paulus’ Leading Player ended up being a woman — Miller. The surprise was not, of course, that Miller could sing and act, but that she could dance.

“I don’t call myself a dancer, but I think this sort of dancing suits my body very well,” Miller has said.

Paulus has said that Miller “has an incredible facility for movement.”

Online: www.PippinTheMusical.com

McConaughey says he’s listened to critics

NEW YORK — Matthew McConaughey, who’s getting praise from critics for his role in his latest movie “Mud,” says he’s found a way to make negative reviews a positive learning experience.

McConaughey has won various awards, but there have been some misses for the 43-year-old actor, who cemented his romantic leading man status in 2003’s “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.” Critics panned “Failure to Launch,” and “Fools Gold.”

“A few years ago, I did a really interesting kind of experiment,” McConaughey said.

“My assistants gathered every negative review I’ve ever had and it was a good, thick pile. I sat down and said, ‘We’re gonna read every one of these.’ There was some really good constructive criticism. I’m like, ‘That’s what I would’ve said about that performance. You’re right.’ ”

Eastwood says he’d like to be directing at 105

NEW YORK — Clint Eastwood may be 82 years old, but he dreams of making films for two more decades.

In a recent conversation on film directing, Eastwood ex-pressed admiration for the 104-year-old Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira.

“It would be great to be 105 and still making films,” Eastwood said. Chuckling, he called such a hope “the ultimate optimism.”

Eastwood last directed 2011’s “J. Edgar” biopic. Eastwood gave a talk on directing at the Tribeca Film Festival following a screening of Richard Schickel’s documentary “Eastwood Directs: The Untold Story.”

Rodney Allen Rippy returns to spotlight

COMPTON, Calif. — Before he suddenly surfaced in an unsuccessful race for mayor of this hardscrabble Los Angeles suburb, Rodney Allen Rippy’s name was likely to evoke the question inspired by that class of former child stars who didn’t die young, end up in jail or a celebrity rehab series: “Whatever happened to that guy?”

Rippy was just 3 in 1972, when he became the toast of a generation as the pint-sized TV pitchman for the Jack in the Box fast-food chain.

When he picked up a hamburger that looked as a big as a hubcap and tried to cram it into his mouth, America was entranced.

When he finally said, “Too bigga eat!” a national catchphrase was born.

Soon the cute, chubby-cheeked youngster with the afro as big as his head was hanging out in Hollywood with Michael Jackson.

He made movie cameos and recorded a hit album called “Take Life a Little Easier.”

More than 30 years later, he resurfaced as a candidate for mayor in Compton.

After Rippy stepped away from the cameras, he went to college and earned a marketing degree. He formed Ripped Marketing Group in 2000.

Associated Press