I was nominated for a Drama Desk Award and lost last night to Janet McTeer for her powerful performance in “Mary Stuart.” So how does it feel to lose? Not great but not horrible, either, especially if it’s not the first time. Angela Lansbury, who won for Best Featured Actress, said when she accepted her award that she knows it isn’t easy being the one who “didn’t get up.” “I know because there have been many times when I wasn’t the one who got up. But you will get up one day.” It was very nice.

I’ve gotten up many times and stayed down many times and, you recover from both (winning requires attaining humility, losing requires attaining perspective…maybe winning does too). I enjoyed running into friends like Jonathan Lithgow and Liza Minnelli. I made a film with Angela Lansbury eons ago. Peter Finch was in it as well. It was so bad, I’m not even sure it was ever released. (So you see, we all win some and lose some). Stephanie Block is playing Judy Bernly in “9 to 5: The Musical.” That was the role I played in the film –that I produced.

drama-desk-2009-lizaLiza Minnelli, Jeff Kalpak (Director of The Drama Desk Awards Show)
(photo: scottwynn.com)

Harvey Fierstein hosted the award show and I found out that he collects folk art. I collect vernacular art of the south (some might say they are the same) and financed two volumes of a coffee table book of these artist’s work.  Several years ago Oprah gave the books out to her audience as among her favorite things that year. Anyway, I told Harvey I wanted to send them to him and he wrote down his address and, not having a pocket, I folded the paper up and stuck it into my bra right before I went on stage to present the nominated Best Featured actors and actresses. In his introduction of me, Harvey had made a funny joke about him doing my exercise videos for years and so when I was on stage and the music for “9 to 5” was playing I joked around and did a quick Jane Fonda Workout arm exercise (that I had done in our Broadway Cares skit) and Harvey’s note fell down my pants leg…something that would never happen to Dolly Parton! Oh well.

Although today is Monday, normally our day off, we are doing a special show tonight. It will be fun because a lot of actors who haven’t seen it yet will get to come and I’m told it’s really fun to perform for other actors. I’ll tell you tomorrow who came back stage. For now, it’s pack up time.

See you next time

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  1. Jane, could you comment and distinguish your feelings about the play ending, with work on a movie ending? Also the making of a movie, with performing in a play. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts. Also on how you feel about the character you play in a movie, vs the character you perform in a play?

    Thanks so much for all you do.

  2. Dear Jane,
    I was on your web site today because I needed a picture of someone I thought was a powerful woman and I thought of you. I am in therapy trying to overcome a breakdown I had in February after 5 very difficult years that included my own fight with breast cancer, my aunt dying of cancer, my brother dying of cancer (very hard on me), a grandson born with trisomy 1 (rare chromosome defect that did bless us and worry us at the same time and always will), as well as other stressors. At 49, I am so over dealing with the unkindness and down right wickedness of others. The devil works hard to bring down Jesus’s faithful.
    I wanted to tell you not to overanalyze things and just keep remembering who you are. You have always stood for speaking out when it was not popular to do so and you have been a great example for me my whole life of a strong woman. When I learned that you had embraced Christianity, I was so happy for you. I will be taking your picture with me tomorrow to my counselor along with pictures of Queen Elizabeth I (from 1554), Our Virgin Mother Mary, my Nana, and a self portrait of myself being strong. We have all walked against the grain and had to be strong alone at times. With Jesus by our side of course.
    Stay the strong woman I admire so much and may God Bless you:-) Best wishes for tonight:-)

  3. Perhaps this is cheesy, but you are still a winner in my eyes, Jane. I imagine for those types of award ceremonies, it’s easier not to be nominated at all–just going and being surrounded by your fellow actors would be delightful.

    I think anything that goes in Dolly’s bra stays there! I don’t think objects shift at all:)

    I hope tonight’s special show goes well!!! Can’t wait to see backstage photos!

    All my best,

  4. OMG you did make a movie with Angela Lansbury and Peter Finch (and Arthur Hill), apparently called “In the Cool of the Day” and apparently still shown on TV, from the comments on imdb.com. Judging also from those comments, the movie must be worth seeing only for your unflattering hairstyle. I had no idea!

    Keep up the excellent work. Love reading your stuff.

  5. Funny story about Harvey’s address! No it wouldn’t have happened to Dolly, or to me for that matter! I hate clothes without pockets. Mum used to sew all of mine up when I was a kid because of the things that I used to store in them! Anyway, Jane, you’ll always be a winner to us. Some of these awards could go to any of the nominees, they are all so good. Hope you have a great last week, and remember, as Julie Andrews once said “when one door closes another one opens.”

  6. Art is a strange thing in Art school nobody wants a degree in Drawing and Painting, most learn that you will be a poor artist and major in Design for work. I was the only person to earn my degree in drawing and painting that year, I went on into graduate school and studied Media. I find Art and being creative need seems to be more of a yoga , drawing is a form of Meditiation.The aim of meditation is to bring inner peace within our self in a positive and spiritual way. The awards have never been a part of my minds eye in painting or drawing. My studies in media is somewhat a encounter of the expected kind, product contributions of a verb to be. Like acting art is the expression of the self at its best,awards or not. You have opened up some new ground in the area of communications and networks, you have earnd parties and awardes on all fronts, Art and Media and have expressed youself as a Artist will – good Job Jane keep it up.

  7. Dear Jane,
    Tonight around 6pm in Malawi, Africa, you came to mind in such an intense way that I said a prayer that all was going well for you…..it would’ve been noon there and I’m wondering what was happening with you there. I hope all is well and you are reconciling the closing of this beautiful moment in your life. I so wish that I could have seen the play again, but know that when I did see it in April, it impacted me and the messages continue to inspire me. It seems to me that you have lived your whole life to be able to share these poignant moments on stage with so many. May your next project be as wonderful and keep on writing! We love you and wish you all the best.

  8. I’m so sorry you didn’t win…however the Tony’s are coming up and you have another good strong shot!! Fingers crossed for you!! Hugs to Tulea! xoxo

  9. You didn’t lose Jane. You have won every night when you perform and touch people with your acting. I saw the play 2 weeks ago and was very moved.

  10. Could the film with Lansbury and Finch have been ‘The Chapman Report’, possibly?

  11. Everyone nominated this year is a working actor …. hard to be considered a loser when you’re an actor with a gig, ya know ?

  12. The film you did with Angela Lansbury, In the Cool of the Day, used to play on TV a fair amount when I was a teenager, back in the early 70s.

    It was reviewed by many of the first string reviewers of the day so it must have been released. Peter Finch considered it his worst film, according to The Films of Jane Fonda.

  13. Re: the stage gremlins.

    I’ve been acting in Toronto theatre for decades. I find that it really helps to run lines for the whole show, looking at my cues and then saying my lines in my head. I do this every night, before the show, on my to the theatre. It takes an hour, by public transit, to get to the theatre. It is boring and tedious but really helps me in remembering my lines. I sometimes blank out but I recover in a second or two.

    I understand that Joan Plowright runs all her lines, before every show, in her dressing room, as well.

  14. I hope you ‘get up’ for the Tony.

  15. Everything requires humility if you want to get closer to the truth, according to Gandhi, whose autobiography he called “experiments in truth.” To get close to the truth, he said you have to be as humble as the sand under the feet, because when we are proud in thinking we know the truth, or attaining anything, such as winning, it moves away from us, and the winning is never important. It is how we play, right? And this can be extrapolated in many ways. For the one that wins a contest, ninety-nine more are hurt by losing. So is a contest even a good thing? Probably not, particularly for children. I remember once visiting “Kate” and how she just had one Oscar on display on her mantle, which she made light of, calling it “my little man.” I picked it up and set it back down. Right, not very important at all. In any case, it was not the honor of winning anything that made her personality or made her proud as an actress. It was more the other way around, that she was an independent woman and and lived the way she wanted, loved the way she wanted etc. Her greatness came from her character within, and that encompasses both a necessary pride and an open humility. But winning or losing, no, that is not important at all. As a child, I used to like to play chess and was pretty good at it, but I gave it up after joining a chess club in college, as I saw nothing good in the attitude of the club. So then I just played in the square with the old men, and that was much more meaningful to me. The moral of all this? Hmmm….just try not to make anything you do like a contest…life is not really a contest…it is just playing chess in the park in the spring time, or in the fall, playing until it is too dark to see anymore.

  16. Hi Jane…….thanks so much for these last few months of blogging (sharing your life)…….your new words actually brought me back to reading “my life so far” for the second time……..I’m finding your words comforting and inspirational……….as at the age of 53, I have decided to start another chapter…..and yes, I am grateful I have that ability……….just don’t know if I can pull it off just yet….anyway…….after much procrastination, I am leaving right now to see your show tonite(may 18th)………very excited…….thanks so much


  17. I was wrong: the Chapman Report was with Shelley Winters: I realized you were talking about ‘In the Cool of the Day’, the trailer of which I just saw on Youtube. Indeed, it does look like a howler.

  18. It was so interesting reading this! It’s never easy to lose in any competition, and I think it is a humbling experience to lose as well as it is to win ! I think both require a certain humility as well as attaining a certain perspective of experiencing either situation. It makes one truly appreciative of winning whenever it happens in any competition! I’m so happy you were nominated! This play has been such an enlightening experience for you! Isn’t it amazing when this happens in life? Wishing you the best always!

  19. Did you know that Stephanie J. Block played Liza Minnelli in “The Boy From Oz”? Between you and Liza being there last night, she must have felt like she was walking into mirrors.

  20. You win some, you lose some. Either way, you are a fabulous actress who doesn’t need awards to define how great you are. Besides, there are always the Tonys to look forward to. My overall point is, you are still a great actor, Miss Fonda.

  21. Jane,

    I’m so glad my partner and I flew up from our home in Atlanta to see you in performance this past Saturday night. Before the show, at Serafina, we toasted 23 (years) and 33 (Variations). It was truly a special occasion — getting to see one of our favorite actresses on a Broadway stage. Thanks for making our anniversary extra special with such a moving, even spellbinding performance!

    We’re keeping our fingers crossed that you win the Tony for your performance. Regardless, we feel like you’ve already won because of your Tony nomination and your outstanding performance. So hat’s off to you!

    — a lifelong fan since my childhood in Southern California

  22. jane, i’m thrilled to hear you are continuing your blog. i will miss the performance updates and inside info you’ve given us about the play and how it has progressed – but i very much look forward to your unique, intelligent and interesting take on what comes next in your life. you are one in a million, and i thank you for letting us see behind the scenes of your world!!

  23. “and Harvey’s note fell down my pants leg…something that would never happen to Dolly Parton! Oh well.”

    Hahaha! I guess not!

  24. During all these months, you have gained so much, creatively, spiritually, emotionally, that while an award would be frosting on the cake, I know you are both grateful and satisfied with what you have achieved.
    Losing? Hardly!


  25. I know what you mean about Tulea knowing something is up. Yeah, people who have dogs know exactly what you’re talking about. Dr. Bear and Inspector Lamb Chop, both of whom I miss TERRIBLY, would know when I was upset or not feeling well. One time I had the flu really, really bad and I was lying in bed practically comatose. They had worried looks on their faces and they would not leave my side. I had to “pretend” like I was okay just so they wouldn’t worry about me. Shilo is like that too. I wonder if cats are. I think cats probably couldn’t careless. Oh, I take that back. Steve, a cat that live next door to me at my old apartment, was very perceptive too. At any rate, don’t be bummed about the play ending (although I understand why you are. I would be too). You have a new adventure, in the form of a new movie, coming up. But before that, you’re going to the Himalyas.

  26. Love this picture of you and Liza!
    I am so grateful I got to come to NY a couple of months ago and see 33 Variations twice! I have thought about it many times since then and how meaningful it was to me. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for those of you who are creating it nightly to leave it behind. What an amazing journey. Thank you so much for taking your online readers along for the ride! I will be thinking about you this week and hoping you have safe and happy travels.
    Looking forward to hearing about your next adventure!

    all best,
    Angela E.

  27. jane, what a great blog this is! i’ve kept up with you since the very beginning and i’m going to miss going to the theatre with you every day. your experiences prove that the journey is the reward! thank you so much for sharing all of your ups and downs and hopes and fears in such a loving personal way. can’t wait to travel to the Galapagos Islands with you.

  28. Thank you for sharing this rehearsal. Isn’t that what it all is anyway? A rehearsal?


  29. Something that I meant to add. Liza is coming downunder for a series of shows. For the first time in Sydney Opera House History, the computer crashed re enquiries into anybody’s shows! Since 1973 when the “House” first opened, to a series of fabulous performers including Judy Collins, Petula Clarke and heaps of others, this happens….She looks fab after all that she has been through, would love to go, but it is harder to get tickets to see her than for the Texas Rangers to win the world series (until maybe now!)….
    So, if you brought the play down under to Sydney Opera House, then you could probably outdo Liza! Bring it on!

  30. Have there been discussions about adapting this play for the big screen?

  31. It sounds like a great time–especially with Harvery Fierstein! In terms of awards–just think–you have two best actress oscars–Barbra only has one!

  32. Hi Jane
    Thought of you yesterday as I drove by your alma mater, Emma Willard. We were on our way to Mass Moca, a contemporary Art Museum in an old industrial factory space. A good place to take my 2 year old art lover! Wonder if you like contemporary art? I love art, especially modern. Enjoying your blog.

  33. Just wanted to add ….you look AMAZING in this photo..so great!!!

  34. ohhhh LIZAAAAAAAAA!!! she is FABULOUS! nd both of you ladies were looking incredible!

  35. I was lucky enough to see the play in Mid-March- it was phenomenal then and I’m sure even more so now! I loved it! I was so well worth the trip from California!

    I’m glad you are keeping the blog after the play- I’ve enjoyed the snippets and sneak peaks! I’ll enjoy your new endeavors as well.

    Love today’s picture with you and one of my friends!

  36. Re: Sunday’s 5/17/09 matinee.

    I was there and there is NO way Marlo T. didn’t like your performance. You are stunning on stage, an electric powerhouse, and then some. (Please, I beg you, continue to do theater.) Yes, she might have had some criticism with the show, as I did, a tad bit, and that is extremely difficult to deal with when you know people in it. 33 Variations is an ambitious and unique production. Congratulations to the entire cast (and new “rock star” Diane) for their obvious talents, performances and lovableness. Was fascinated by your scenes with Susan, the smooth shifting of power between your characters…..and….. between the two of you as actors! Something to see. I am still thinking about the show.
    I had an amusing encounter with the sleak-headed, nattily-garbed usher seating me when I asked him, “Where’s Jane’s peep-hole?” You should have seen the way he was looking at me. I don’t know what he thought I was asking. Anyway he didn’t know. And I never found out.

  37. Hi Jane,

    It is sad to leave people and a play you are so involved with and it does take time to heal from the separation. You are empathetic in thinking of the other actors and making a decision that you will go back stage to greet them after their performances. Thank you for sharing your daily adventures with us as well as giving us the “gift of you”.

    Wishing you a great vacation with your family to the Galapagos Islands. May Thursday be a blessing to you and may God continue to bless you and your family.


  38. The Gee’s Bend books are such as treasure. I missed the original exhibit in Houston but have seen 2 different exhibits in the past few years.

    Congratulations & thank you for having the vision and forethought to publish this documentation of functional art, history, and the story of these amazing women.

    Whenever I need to renew my inspiration, I reach for anything on O’Keefe and/or the quilts of Gee’s bend.

    I’ve enjoyed your blog & hope you will continue in the days to come. Much love & joy to you…N

  39. Dear Jane,

    Sorry I wasn’t able to get to New York to see your play before it closed. I was happy to read that you will be continuing to blog as I have very much enjoyed your postings to date.

    I first saw you in “They Shoot Horses Don’t They” and was so impressed that I started keeping an eye out for your subsequent films. (Eventually caught up with your older films as they were shown on Ted’s Turner Broadcasting Station – the original TV movie source in the early cable era in rural Georgia where I lived in the 70s).

    Later I was impressed and motivated by your activism. I saw China Syndrome as soon as it opened in Pittsburgh, PA – needless to say I was struck by the line one of the “expert” characters delivers “[the china syndrome] would render an area the size of Pennsylvania permanently uninhabitable.” That the accident at TMI occurred just a few days later was particularly alarming – for me especially as I had grown up within 5 miles of TMI and with the exception of my parents in Georgia all of my relatives lived in the Middletown area. (Curious note on your current character’s last name – Brandt – my Brandt family ancestors owned a farm and mill within a mile or two of the island – and all of my Pennsylvania Dutch ancestors lived and died within a 30 mile radius – and the pull of home was so strong that despite the incident today I live 5 miles from the plant. – In the immediate aftermath of the accident I subsequently became active in the antinuclear power movement – and attended the No Nukes march in Washington in 1979 when you were one of the speakers. (Likewise an ERA rally years later.)

    I’ve enjoyed your films and books and thank you for your inspiration.

  40. Jane,
    I’m 35 now remember the seeing the great Janet Mcteer in 1997 (a Doll’s House) It was the exact same day Princess Diana died.
    I had no idea of her death until I got home and my I called my big sister. She didn’t tell me, but we had a pact to let each other know when we we’re safe at home. (Something instilled I guess from earlier childhood stuff.)
    I’ll never forget that night seeing Janet Mcteer in a Dolls House, nor will I ever forget your brilliant performance in 33 V…
    I’m betting on you for the Tony.
    Hey, I know a little bit about this stuff and it’s yours. You so deserve it. Only got to see 33 once in previews, but from your blog, you’ve given people the chance to “see it”

    Thanks Jane….. : )

  41. No hay perdedores. Ya eres una ganadora al estar nominada entre tantas actrices talentosas. Desde Uruguay con afecto

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