Acceptance speeches at Hollywood awards shows aren't usually noted for their high-brow references or even basic coherence. But when Jeff Daniels won an Emmy Award on Sunday for his lead role in the HBO series "The Newsroom," he paid tribute to the late Lanford Wilson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist whose plays have been an important part of the veteran actor's career.
Wilson, who died in 2011 at 73, was the author of such seminal dramas as "Burn This," "Talley's Folly" and "Balm in Gilead."
Daniels had a long association with Wilson through New York's Circle Repertory Theatre, where the playwright made his artistic home for many years. The actor appeared in some of Wilson's plays, including Broadway productions of "Fifth of July" in 1980 and "Redwood Curtain" in 1993.
He reprised his role in "Redwood Curtain" for a 1995 TV movie adaptation that aired on ABC.
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On Sunday at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, Daniels paid tribute to Wilson in his Emmy acceptance speech: "The great American playwright Lanford Wilson said, 'Whatever you do in you career make it matter, make it count.'"
The actor then thanked Aaron Sorkin, the creator of "The Newsroom" who is also an accomplished playwright.
Daniels' nod to Wilson could also have been a subtle plug for the upcoming revival of "Redwood Curtain" at the Purple Rose Theatre Company -- the stage company in Chelsea, Mich., that Daniels runs.
The revival is scheduled to begin performances on Jan. 16. The play is about an adopted half-Vietnamese woman who travels to the redwood forests in search of her birth father.
Under Daniels' leadership, the Purple Rose Theatre premiered Wilson's final two plays -- "Book of Days" in 1998 and "Rain Dance" in 2001.
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