N.Y. Times critic Ben Brantley has pointed out an interesting political current in The Columnist, David Auburn‘s “scrupulously assembled historical drama” about hard-hitting columnist Joseph Alsop (John Lithgow) that has just opened on Broadway.

“The political part presents Joe as a fearsome dinosaur,” Brantley notes, “a fierce advocate of the war in Vietnam whose power begins its inexorable decline with the assassination of Kennedy. The play ends with the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, with Joe recoiling from the light like a vampire at sunrise.”

I had dinner with Lithgow in Cortina d’Ampezzo , Italy, almost exactly 20 years ago. I was doing a N.Y. Times interview with Sylvester Stallone during the filming of Cliffhanger, and it was suggested by the unit publicist that I should hang with Lithgow a bit. Lithgow didn’t say anything too specific, but the tone of his comments provided the first hint that Cliffhanger might be somewhat dismissable.