(Frank Langella as Count Dracula)
Perhaps because it's expanded well beyond a weekend, this year Syracuse University re-named its traditional Home-coming "Orange Central." Head-liners included a talk last Friday in Hendricks Chapel by acclaimed fiction writer/SU alum Joyce Carol Oates. I suspect Oates, famous for her prodigious work ethic, didn't make much reference to undergraduate hi-jinx such as "that night at the water tower." But the audience did hear that phrase the night before at Syracuse Stage where two other SU alums held forth from resplendent Stickley arm-chairs. Having a good deal of fun for themselves between more serious exchange -- and at one point playfully swearing when they remembered they were being filmed for a WCNY broadcast later -- journalist Ted Koppell ('60) conducted a live interview of actor Frank Langella ('59) before a packed audience.
Koppell hosted ABC's "Nightline" from its inception in 1980 until 2005, and is now a senior analyst for National Public Radio and the BBC. Besides taking some of his starring title stage roles to film -- "Dracula" and "Frost/Nixon" -- the versatile Langella starred in last year's awards contender, "Starting Out in the Evening," and has two films forthcoming, a "Wall Street" sequel and, opening November 6, the sci-fi horror movie with Cameron Diaz, "The Box."
Those familiar with Koppell in recent years may not be able to tell he was born in northern England -- not far, he said later, from Archie Leach -- which helps account for his easy mimicry of the actor we knew as Cary Grant. But he started off the interview with a different reference, channeling British TV interviewer David Frost and asking Langella if he were "finally ready to apologize." With this deft stroke, Koppell, who as a young journalist covered Richard Nixon's China trip, added, "I knew Richard Nixon and you, sir, were the very embodiment of the man."