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Three short plays authored by Hollywood heavyweights Woody Allen, Elaine May, and Ethan Coen will be making their way to Broadway this fall.

Relatively Speaking unites two brilliant, pioneering stand-up comics and straight-faced Coen for an evening of what Woody told the New York Times promises to contain "broad comedy, for laughs, no redeeming social value."

The trio of one-acts to be listed on the cover of Playbill are Allen's Honeymoon Motel, May's George is Dead, and Coen's Talking Cure. The venue has yet to be determined, but previews are scheduled to begin in September with an official opening in October.

John Turturro will make his Broadway directorial debut in this Julian Schlossberg and Letty Aronson (Woody's sister) production. It also marks the Broadway bow of playwright Coen.

Woody and May are neither strangers to the Great White Way, nor is this the first time they have appeared together in a 3 x 3 format. In 1995, the two joined forces with David Mamet on Death Defying Acts.

Allen has written numerous one-act plays and two of his stage works (Don't Drink the Water and Play it Again, Sam) eventually made it to the big screen. Woody was so disgusted with the watered down 1966 film version of Water, that he directed and starred in a made-for-TV remake in 1994.

Woody is currently the hardest working comedic filmmaker in showbiz. He's averaged a film a year since he first assumed the director's chair in 1966. Just this morning, I had the pleasure of watching Woody's latest -- the charming, romantic time-travel comedy, Midnight in Paris. (It opens May 27 exclusively at Landmark's Hillcrest and La Jolla Village cinemas.)

May and Mike Nichols parlayed their groundbreaking comedy partnership into a Broadway show. She took home a Drama Desk Award for her one-act play Adaptation, which she directed in tandem with Terrence McNally's Next. Other plays that she has penned include Death Defying Acts, Taller than a Dwarf, Adult Entertainment, Power Plays and After the Night and the Music.

Sadly, her career in Hollywood hasn't been quite as prolific. On the basis of three films (The Heartbreak Kid and A New Leaf, two brilliantly understated comedies, and the bleak betrayal noir Mikey and Nickey), May has earned more than just a footnote in 70s cinema.

And while the role reversal (Dustin/stud, Warren/dud) never quite jibes with the actors' abilities, Ishtar is hardly the fiasco most naysayers would leave you to believe.

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She also penned Otto Preminger's devastating black comedy, Such Good Friends -- brought to home video just last week by Olive Films -- under the pseudonym "Esther Dale." Question: this couldn't be in tribute to the character actress of the same name (pictured above as Ralph Bellamy's mother in The Awful Truth)? Now that's funny!

For a while, May was one of Hollywood's most sought-after script doctors working (uncredited) on Tootsie, Reds and several other high profile pictures. A return to Broadway promises to redeem her standing and sweeten the season, along with the anticipated magic of Coen and Allen.

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Comments

Joaquin_de_la_Mesa May 18, 2011 @ 11:02 a.m.

"Ishtar is hardly the fiasco most naysayers would leave you to believe."

Wow, it takes some guts to stand up for Ishtar, one of the most laughed-at movie mistakes in history.

What's next, an impassioned defense of Gigli?

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Scott Marks May 18, 2011 @ 1:18 p.m.

Joaquin, you must be psychic. I own a copy of "Gigli." Found it for a buck. Unintentional laughs don't come much cheaper. And I watched "Ishtar" about six months ago and was delighted to discover that it wasn't the train-wreck I remembered. If you really want to question my sanity, ask me how much I prefer "Exorcist II" over the original.

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Colonna May 18, 2011 @ 11:45 a.m.

When your male lead is The Great Mug, err... One... Jackie Gleason and your director is Ernest T. Bass, it's no wonder Woody hated that 60s version of "Don't Drink The Water".

However, the TV version wasn't all that great either...

Perhaps it was the timing; the Cold War was long over, many of the jokes went over the 35 and younger crowd, and this was close to the period now known as Soon-Yi-gate that alienated much of Woody's appeal.

Off to find a copy of "Play It Again Sam"...

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