I've read recently that Bill Condon is dickering with the idea of filming "Gypsy" - yet again - and that Fox has tentative plans to remake "Carousel" with Hugh Jackman in the role he played in a one-night-only concert reading at Carnegie Hall a couple of years ago.
My question: Why? There's nothing wrong with the original film versions of these musicals and, in the case of "Gypsy," there's also a version that was made for television.
I mean, wouldn't it be a better idea to tackle material that's never been filmed?
This thought occurs to me every time ace producers/musical specialists Craig Zadan and Nail Meron unveil another one of their TV remakes - "Gypsy" which, with Bette Midler in the lead role sounded good on paper but proved otherwise in performance; a watered-down version of "Annie," and most depressing of all, "The Music Man," with the grotesquely miscast Matthew Broderick and the highly resistible Kristen Chenoweth.
I hasten to note that I admire Zadan and Meron and appreciate their efforts, especially the wonders they worked with their big-screen adapations of John Kander and Fred Ebb's "Chicago" (2002) and Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman's "Hairspray" (2007) but frankly, their TV work has always left me feeling vaguely disappointed.
Anyway, at least, we've had a couple new ones in the past year - the recent films of "Mamma Mia!" (with Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried perfectly cast as Donna and Sophie, mother and daughter) and Tim Burton's take on Stephen Sondheim's majestic "Sweeney Todd - The Demon Barber of Fleet Street."
But why not be truly adventrous and film something worthwhile that's been neglected for several decades? Say, five decades.
Why not be a true supporter of the musical theater and committ some once-legendary shows to celluloid?
I'm thinking specifically of two superior shows by composers Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Fiorello" and the endlessly enchanting "She Loves Me"; John Kander and Fred Ebb's "Zorba" and "70 - Girls - 70"; Frank Loesser's masterwork, "The Most Happy Fella," and his underrated "Greenwillow," and Robert Merrill's hugely popular hit "Take Me Along," which caused quite the stir in its day, thanks to star Jackie Gleason's triumphant return to Broadway.
Prior to his death, Bobby Darin had talked about buying "Fiorello" as a starring film vehicle for himself, and Tony Perkins, who starred in the Loesser show on Broadway, wanted to film "Greenwillow" with Jane Fonda (his "Tall Story" co-star) as his leading lady.
And, saddest of all, "She Loves Me" was once the dream project of Blake Edwards who hoped to film it at MGM with Julie Andrews in the Barbara Cook role, but MGM's long-time instability was starting up at the time.
Talk about missed opportunities.
Meanwhile. producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus were once so committed to filming the musical of "Zorba," with the original film star, Anthony Quinn, encoring in the title role, that they even took out one of those "production about to begin" ads in Variety. John Travolta was listed as Quinn's co-star, presumably in the Alan Bates role.
It never happened, natch. And neither did the others.
Film them already!
(Artwork: Original poster art for stage productions of "Fiorello," "Take Me Along" and "The Most Happy Fella.")