News Nuggets: Will Helen Mirren match her Oscar with a Tony for playing Queen Elizabeth II?

Dame Helen Mirren is going after her first Tony Award even earlier than expected. Producers of the upcoming Peter Morgan play “The Audience” will begin previews February 14 on Broadway. Opening night under the direction of Stephen Daldry will be on March 8 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. Mirren has been nominated twice before at the Tony Awards but has never won. She will be reprising the role of Queen Elizabeth II, the same part that won her an Oscar for the film “The Queen” in 2006.  Mirren is also a four-time Emmy winner, so this would place her as one of the few people to earn the triple crown of acting by prevailing at the Tonys. Only a Grammy would keep her from the exclusive EGOT club at that point. Playbill

Watch a funny new video featuring the “Downton Abbey” cast in support of the “Text Santa” charity in Great Britain. It takes on the “It’s a Wonderful Life” plotline in which Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) wonders what life would be if he never existed with special angel Joanna Lumley (“Absolutely Fabulous”). He is replaced by Lord Hollywood (George Clooney), and the family is tended to by Mr. Selfridge (Jeremy Piven). Entertainment Weekly

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British singer Joe Cocker dies Monday after a battle with lung cancer at age 70. He first became known at Woodstock in 1969 when he performed The Beatles‘ “With a Little Help From My Friends.” Other hits included “You Are So Beautiful” and the Oscar-winning song “Up Where We Belong” from “An Officer and a Gentleman.” USA Today

AMC debuts new footage of their upcoming “Breaking Bad” prequel “Better Call Saul.” The series is set six years before attorney Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) ever meets the infamous Walter White (Bryan Cranston). In this timeframe, his name is Jimmy McGill and he is a small-time lawyer “searching for his destiny and hustling to make ends meet.” The new program premieres on February 8. TV Guide

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Longtime ABC executive Brandon Stoddard dies Monday at age 77. Among his other accomplishments, he helped bring “Roots” and other classic miniseries to his network and developed the beloved “Schoolhouse Rock” shorts. After 15 years at ABC, he became the entertainment president in 1985 and helped launch “Roseanne,” “The Wonder Years,” “Twin Peaks,” “China Beach,” “Full House,” and “thirtysomething.” He was inducted into the Television Academy’s Hall of Fame earlier this year. Deadline

Emmy-winning director Joseph Sargent dies at his home in Malbu on Monday at age 89. His four Emmy victories came for helming an episode of “Kojak” and the telefilms “Love Is Never Silent,” “Caroline?,” and “Miss Rose White.” He also received nominations for “Amber Waves,” “A Lesson Before Dying,” “Something the Lord Made,” and “Warm Springs.” Variety

Netflix will be the exclusive home to a new Pee-Wee Herman movie produced by Judd Apatow. Plot details are still under wraps, but actor and comedian Paul Reubens says that shooting will begin in 2015. The online streamer is already introducing the children’s show star to younger audiences with both of his previous theatrical movies and “The Pee-Wee Herman Show” now available. The Wrap

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