Michael Lynne and Bob Shaye, who formed the production company Unique Features last year after departing executive positions at New Line Cinema, have a trio of theater-related projects in the works, according to Variety: stage musical versions of Elf and Secondhand Lions and a film version of the Tony-winning 1989 Broadway musical City of Angels.
Elf, based on the hit 2003 comedy starring Will Ferrell as a man raised as one of Santa’s elves, will be workshopped in November with an eye toward a holiday 2010 opening. The show features a book by Thomas Meehan (Annie, The Producers) and Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone), with a score by composer Matt Sklar and lyricist Chad Beguelin (The Wedding Singer). Casey Nicholaw (The Drowsy Chaperone) will direct.
Also in development is a musical version of Secondhand Lions a 2003 drama starring Haley Joel Osment, Michael Caine and Robert Duvall about a boy sent to spend the summer with his eccentric uncles. The book is being written by Rupert Holmes (Curtains, The Mystery of Edwin Drood) with a score by Michael Weiner and Alan Zachary (the animated films Cinderella II and Cinderella III). A 2010 workshop is planned in advance of a 2011 premiere.
Director Barry Levinson (Wag the Dog, Bugsy) has signed on to turn City of Angels into a feature film, with a script by the musical’s Tony-winning book writer Larry Gelbart and music direction by Marc Shaiman (Hairspray), who will augment the late Cy Coleman’s jazzy score. The musical’s Tony-winning lyricist David Zippel will work with Shaiman on the project.
Winner of six 1990 Tonys, including Best Musical, City of Angels alternates between the story of a mystery writer who hopes to break into the movies (played on Broadway by Tony nominee Gregg Edelman) and the suave 1940s detective he created (played by Tony winner James Naughton). Michael Blakemore’s production switched between black and white (when the fictional characters were onstage) and color (when the writer was featured). Edelman and Naughton shared the show-stopping duet, “You’re Nothing Without Me.”
Shaye told Variety, “Barry brought it to us, and the story of a writer of classic film noir detective stories, with the same actor playing both the writer and detective...is as great an idea for the screen as it was the for the stage.”
Shaye and Lynne have a total of 11 projects in development, including an animated film, High in the Clouds, that will feature a score by Paul McCartney.