Get ready: A musical based on Margaret Mitchell’s novel “Gone with the Wind” is being prepared for Broadway.
I’m told that a group of producers have secured the rights from the Mitchell estate and are proceeding toward a 2008 production. The big desired star to play Rhett Butler: Hugh Jackman.
I’m also told that producers are interested in Jill Pace, an American actress who co-starred in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Woman in White,” to play Scarlett O’Hara. Pace, a popular up-and-comer, is said to resemble Vivien Leigh. The show would have its birth in London’s West End.
As it’s planned now, this version of “Gone with the Wind” will adhere to the novel more than the well-known film, still considered the all-time box office champ based on adjusted figures from 1939.
That means that this “GWTW” will be a little darker than remembered, with the story told through the eyes of the slaves at Tara.
“If you remember, Scarlett is really left with the slaves, and they become her family,” a production insider says. “That will be more of the emphasis of the story, with Rhett more of a darker, more complicated character.”
“Gone with the Wind” has somehow avoided being turned into a musical all these many years. There have been parodies — think Carol Burnett — and recently a play about the casting of the movie, but until now the Mitchell estate has never allowed this prized possession to be set to music.
The producers of “Dreamgirls” and Paramount Pictures/DreamWorks avoided a lawsuit from Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. yesterday.
The companies ran full-page ads in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter in which they apologized to Gordy for suggesting that “Dreamgirls” was the Motown story or that the corrupt record company president in the movie played by Jamie Foxx in any way resembled Gordy.
I’m told the ads were the result of a long negotiation on both sides, and that Gordy was prepared to take the players on.
“The breaking point was a ‘Dreamgirls’ book that showed first Curtis and the Dreams from the movie, and then flip the page and it was Berry and the Supremes. The suggestion was that he was one in the same,” a source revealed.
The source continued: “And it’s not the Motown story. Berry had more than just a girl group and a standalone singer [the Eddie Murphy character]. Motown is much more than that.”
The Motown story, as told by Gordy, will come to NBC in 2009 as a 12-part miniseries produced by Suzanne dePasse, Gordy’s longtime production associate. DePasse — with an extensive list of impressive credits — also produced the award-winning miniseries about the Temptations, one of the many Motown hit groups.
It was a night for Black Hollywood last night at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
In the penthouse, Foxx hosted a party sponsored by Giant magazine in honor of Jennifer Hudson.
Across the breezeway, in the ballroom, Black Enterprise hosted its ever-growing annual gala for the Top 50 Hollywood Power Brokers.
Eddie Murphy was the guest of honor, and he welcomed Chris Tucker, Serena Williams, Byron Allen, Jesse Jackson, Victoria Rowell, Chris Brown, Ollie Woodson and Magic Johnson.
As one wag noted, it was the first time that Kenny Babyface Edmonds, the hot singer-producer, came face-to-face with his ex-wife, beautiful movie producer Tracey Edmonds, who’s dating Oscar nominee Murphy.
At the same time, Russell Simmons crossed paths with his statuesque ex, Kimora Lee Simmons. Whew!
Luckily, it was a very-well-dressed crowd, so everyone was on their best behavior. Event organizer Marilyn Crawford managed to keep everyone in line and even brought in some unusual guests.
For example, who knew that actress Lisa Raye, who co-stars in “All of Us” on TV, is married to the prime minister of Caribbean resort island Turks and Caicos? Neat.
Of course, all the attention at the massive, fun Black Enterprise event was on Murphy. That didn’t please Jackson too much; he looked a little stunned as the paparazzi and crowds zoomed away from him and onto Eddie and Tracey. Whoops!
So here’s the big question: Is Eddie working on his Oscar acceptance speech?
He grinned. “I wouldn’t be so presumptuous,” he replied.
Murphy, who is smaller physically than you would think, is a shy guy in person. To say he’s nervous about the Sunday night outcome is an understatement.
Meanwhile, Hudson held court in the penthouse but managed to meet and greet everyone who wanted to see her. Will she take a vacation after the Oscars?
“I’ll take it in Chicago,” she said.
“I just bought a condo there and I haven’t even moved in.” What? No sandy beaches?
“I’ve seen enough water,” she said, “from working on cruise ships. I’ll be happy to be home.”
For one thing, she’s got to design a cabinet to hold all her awards for this year.
Hudson, by the way, watched “American Idol” last night before the parties began. She saw Lakisha Jones sing her “Dreamgirls” hit, “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going.”
“She was really good,” Jennifer said, with her usual aplomb. “I was surprised.”
Meanwhile, just a few feet away from Hudson’s area, Foxx and Janet Jackson were in a small room separated from us by closed French doors and large bodyguards. Spotted inside: a smiling Foxx and a number of beautiful young women.
It was like a private party within a private party, and good luck getting in!
Arriving at LAX yesterday very, very quietly: Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams, with baby daughter, Matilda. She’s cute as a button… Penelope Cruz having dinner last night at Soho House, the temporary private club set up at a Spanish-style Hollywood mansion. Starting tonight, Soho House becomes the center of activity for the weekend, for better or worse. Getting there is no easy task. Guests are taken from a nearby parking lot in Cadillac Escalades after being cleared for admission by walkie-talkie… tonight Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas are throwing a party for Al Gore at their home. The competition is a Vanity Fair soiree featuring Macy Gray and Will.i.am, while Jason Binn’s Los Angeles Confidential honors Forest Whitaker and Miramax celebrates Helen Mirren and Peter O’Toole’s nominations. Call it: “An Inconvenient Evening!”