24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Broadway

‘August: Osage County’ pic gets shiny new name: George Clooney

June 18, 2012 |  2:25 pm


EXCLUSIVE: The movie version of “August: Osage County” already has a heavyweight pedigree in Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep, who are playing the two lead roles in the adaptation of the Broadway drama.

Now the film’s credits are getting even glitzier. George Clooney has joined the movie as a producer, according to a person familiar with the project who was not authorized to talk about it publicly.

Clooney and producing partner Grant Heslov will produce the film, which is being directed by John Wells and financed and distributed by The Weinstein Co. The A-list actor-filmmaker, who has a relationship with Wells dating back to their “ER" days, will be heavily involved offering creative input. He is not expected to star.

A Weinstein Co. representative was not immediately available for comment.

The movie -- which is also being produced by Steve Traxler and initial Broadway producer Jean Doumanian -- is set to begin shooting in the fall for a potential 2013 release.

Tracy Letts’ black comedy about a few weeks in the lives of a dysfunctional Oklahoma family centers on Violet Weston (Streep), a drug-addled matriarch who doles out barbs and truths, as well as a motley crew of family members, particularly oldest daughter Barbara (Roberts), a control-freak professor who finds her life falling apart. When it was first staged several years ago, it won the Pulitzer Prize for drama, a Tony and a Drama Desk award.

Deanna Dunagan and Amy Morton incarnated the Violet and Barbara roles, respectively, on both Broadway and the West End; Estelle Parsons and Shannon Cochran played the parts when the show came to Los Angeles' Ahmanson Theatre.

Letts is adapting his own play for the screen. The male actors have yet to be cast in the movie.

Clooney is making a habit of bringing serious plays to the big screen. Last year he was the driving creative force behind the film adaptation of Beau Willimon’s political stage drama “The Ides of March.”


Theater review: 'August, Osage County'

Could 'August, Osage County' finally jump to the big screen?

Critic's Notebook: When going from stage to screen, things change in between


-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: 'August, Osage County' at the Ahmanson. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Coming soon: Stage versions of Oscar favorites?

June 5, 2012 |  4:06 pm



Upbeat Hollywood blockbusters like "The Lion King" and "Ghost" have been making their way to the musical stage for a while now. But the Broadway success this season of "Once" -- a microscopically small Sundance and award-season movie released in 2007 about a pair of drifter musicians -- has some people thinking of film-to-stage adaptations that are less intuitive.

The theater actress Kelli O'Hara, nominated for a Tony Award for her lead performance in the new Prohibition-era musical "Nice Work If You Can Get It," is preparing to star in two unlikely film-to-stage tuners. She's tackling lead parts in a a musical adaptation of Todd Haynes' 2002 period drama "Far From Heaven," which scored four Academy Award nominations, as well as a new singing version of Clint Eastwood’s 1995 romantic weepie "The Bridges of Madison County," which was nominated for one.

At a pre-Tonys interview at the Empire State Building on Tuesday, O'Hara, who at 36 has already landed her fourth Tony nomination, said she saw films in general as a potent new vein of material.

"'Once’ made you realize how it could be done," she said. "It was a small film and people like my husband [musician Greg Naughton] didn't think they’d like it. But it took an idea and just exploded it." She added: "I think the same can be done with other movies.”

The movie version of "Once" scored an Oscar win for original song -- which musicians and stars Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova performed at the ceremony -- as well as an audience prize at Sundance. The theater version of "Once," starring Steve Kazee and Crisitn Milioti, has led all Tony-nominated productions this season with eleven noms. (It will seek to pick up some hardware at the theater world's biggest night on Sunday.)

In her new roles, O'Hara will be tackling parts played by two giants of the screen. She'll inhabit the role of Julianne Moore's housewife-in-crisis from "Far From Heaven," a part that garnered Moore a best actress Oscar nomination. The show will be workshopped this summer at the Williamstown Theatre Festival before moving to off-Broadway next year. Asked how writers (Tony nominees Richard Greenberg, Scott Frankel and Michael Korie) will create book, music and lyrics for the dark and uncomfortable tale, O’Hara just smiled and said, “You’ll see."

O’Hara has also been cast as another lovelorn wife, signing on for the lead part in a development workshop of "Madison County." She'll take the part of Meryl Streep for a show that will inject tunefulness into a blindingly serious story about an Iowa housewife's torrid affair with a wandering stranger, reuniting with her "South Pacific" director Bartlett Sher.

O'Hara said she knew that with "Madison County" she was assuming a part people associated with a screen icon. But, she added with a smirk, "Meryl Streep didn't have to sing."


Movie 'Once' makes transition to Broadway

Tony Nominations 2012: No sure thing

Oscars 2012: Is this Meryl Streep's best year ever?

-- Steven Zeitchik


 Photo: Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood in "The Bridges of Madison County." Credit: Warner Bros.

Barry Levinson and Sheryl Crow remake 'Diner' for Broadway stage

September 20, 2011 |  3:08 pm


Eddie, Shrevie and Boogie are heading to Broadway.

Production company Base Entertainment announced Tuesday that it will mount a musical version of Barry Levinson's 1982 seriocomic hit "Diner"--and has enlisted Levinson to write the book and Sheryl Crow to write the lyrics and music.

Tony Award winner Kathleen Marshall (she won three times for best choreography) will direct the show, which will come to Broadway after playing a limited road engagement in an as-yet unnamed city.

Levinson' poignant male-centric tale centers on twentysomething friends growing up in Baltimore in the 1960s.The film featured then up-and-coming actors including Kevin Bacon, Steve Guttenberg and Mickey Rourke in leading roles and is told via the conversations of the group, who gather in a diner to reminisce as one of them gets married.

"Diner" completists will recall a television pilot in 1983, so it's not like a spinoff is without precedent. But unlike many of the other movies that have become Broadway musicals, there isn't an obvious hook to "Diner"; the movie is, of course, more of a rambling discussion about life and love than a series of set pieces with obvious musical connections.

The movie-theater pipeline has flowed heavily in recent years; "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" became "Spamalot," and Disney has turned seemingly every other one of its hit films from the 1990s into a show on the Great White Way.

Perhaps the closest analogue to "Diner" is "Movin' Out," Twyla tharp's Billy Joel-oriented dance musical about young men growing up slightly later, in the '60's and '70s. Here's hoping for a Rourke cameo in the "Diner" musical--and that he doesn't dance.


Barry Levinson to receive WGA's Screen Laurel Award

Review: Sheryl Crow's 'Detours'

What happened to Mickey Rourke?

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: "Diner." Credit: MGM

David Lindsay-Abaire play 'Good People' aims for the big screen

April 27, 2011 |  5:11 pm


EXCLUSIVE: Few playwrights are hotter on Broadway, or in moviedom, than David Lindsay-Abaire. The "Rabbit Hole" writer last month opened "Good People," a drama set in working-class Boston that's been earning rave reviews.

Now "Good People" is looking to come to the big screen -- and with its stage pedigree largely  intact.

"American Beauty" producer Dan Jinks and Focus Features are in negotiations to develop "Good People" as a film, with Lindsay-Abaire adapting his own play and stage star Frances McDormand on board to reprise her acerbic Ms. Walsh character, according to two people familiar with the project who were not authorized to talk about it publicly. A Focus Features spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.

Lindsay-Abaire's play, his first about his native Boston, traffics in themes of class and luck (particularly the bad kind).

In the Manhattan Theatre Club production, Margie Walsh is a sharp-tongued South Boston single mother of a mentally disabled daughter. Walsh dropped out of high school to care for her child and has struggled to get by ever since. When she's fired from her minimum-wage job, she seeks out employment from a former classmate and rich yuppie (Tate Donovan) in an interaction that quickly becomes a tangled web of race and class.

Though more comedic than "Rabbit Hole," the themes echo Lindsay-Abaire’s Pullitzer-winning grieving-parent drama, in which a mother also suffers at the cruel hand of fate.

"Good People's" Boston setting would take Hollywood back to a place that it has mined richly, particularly for class issues, in recent movies such as "The Fighter," "The Town" and "The Social Network." The film would also reunite Jinks and Focus, who collaborated on the award-season favorite "Milk" in 2008.

McDormand was last seen on the big screen in "Burn After Reading" and "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day" (both Focus films) and stars opposite Sean Penn in the drama "This Must Be the Place," which premieres at Cannes next month.

A movie based on a Lindsay-Abaire work is practically an instant recipe for awards: "Rabbit Hole" netted Cynthia Nixon a Tony statuette on Broadway and Nicole Kidman an Oscar nomination on the big screen when the movie, also adapted by Lindsay-Abaire, was released last year.

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: The cast of "Good People." Credit Joan Marcus/Samuel G. Friedman Theatre



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