By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com September 14, 2011 at 1:00AM
The compartmentalization of the star system, while porous, is still fairly in place. As much respect as HBO and co have given television drama, signing on to a long-running series is still seen as slumming it for a movie star, while a big name on TV -- let's say Mark Harmon -- isn't really able to carry a big-screen outing on his own. And then there are the Broadway actors, people like Elaine Stritch, or Norbert Leo Butz, capable of selling out the Great White Way, but mostly uninterested in, or unable to crack, the movie world.
Despite some inroads over the years, Nathan Lane is one of these. His leading roles in the likes of "The Producers" and "The Addams Family" have seen him win awards and draw in crowds, but other than a brief sojourn in the 1990s, voicing Timon in "The Lion King," leading Gore Verbinski's "Mousehunt" and starring opposite Robin Williams in the hit "The Birdcage," he's never really become more than a character actor. But he's a fine actor, who's done good work in the cinema frequently, and now after wrapping his turn as Julia Roberts' lackey in "Snow White," he's got one more film role on the way.
Deadline report that Lane has joined Julianne Moore and Greg Kinnear in "The English Teacher," the independent comedy that was announced last week. The actor will play a high-school drama teacher, a colleague of Moore's character, who encourages a former student, a failed playwright, to stage his play in her school. The film marks the feature directorial debut of Craig Zisk, whose TV credits include "The Big C" and "Weeds," from a script by Dan and Stacy Charlton. It's a strong cast, certainly, even if the premise is a little... bleh. Hopefully, at the least, it'll give Lane a chance to do with the 'drama teacher' role that what we're all imagining he'll do...