Avenue Q Tony Winner to Pen Aniston Film, Car-Chase Show and Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler

News   Avenue Q Tony Winner to Pen Aniston Film, Car-Chase Show and Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler
Jeff Whitty, bookwriter of Avenue Q, has already gone Hollywood. The Tony Award-winning librettist has a film project in the works with "Friends" alum Jennifer Aniston and a Fox television pilot involving car chases among others.
Jeff  Whitty
Jeff Whitty Photo by Aubrey Reuben

In an interview days prior to his Tony Award win for his first book to a musical, Whitty told Playbill On-Line of his upcoming writing assignments.

"Jennifer Aniston has a production company with Brad Pitt that is called Plan B Entertainment and they optioned a piece from 'This American Life' on NPR," explained Whitty. "It's a true story about this woman who is my age, she's 32, who wanted to be a superhero when she was a little girl and made this big long list of things she would accomplish: Hand-to-hand combat, weaponry, defensive driving [among them.] And she accomplished everything and had these wild adventures and now she's a bounty hunter and international private investigator based in L.A. [She is] this amazing, amazing person. And I just fell in love with the story and pitched them my vision of it and they hired me to write it. I was just in L.A. last weekend at a shooting range with her — because I've never shot a gun before. So, I'm doing that. I'm pretty busy these days."

Another of his developing works reunites him with an Avenue Q collaborator. "I'm working on a TV pilot with [director] Jason Moore for the Fox TV network," Whitty said. "It was sort of a blind deal to develop a pilot and we've been going around and around as to what exactly its going to be with the network. But, I think we've basically agreed it's going to be something involving car chases and car crashes. [Laughs.]"

The young scribe explained the new work would be an hour-long comic show, of course, with a twist. "I grew up loving 'The Dukes of Hazzard,' so I'm not totally averse to doing something like that except I would want to throw in the gay little brother and make it edgier and more subversive. You can't beat some good car crashes and things like that!"

Citing theatre will always be his home, Whitty noted, "There is something to be said for being able to write '40 police cars crash into each other,' which you just can't do practically in theatre." Of his upcoming theatrical ventures, Whitty will return to plays, "I have two play commissions from the Atlantic Theatre Company and South Coast Rep[ertory of California]. At the time, it just seemed like free money. [Laughs.] But now, I've got those going." Another developing stagework for the playwright is a play that currently goes by the working title The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler — adding his own spin to the classic Henrik Ibsen character.

The Tony Award winner also spoke of his wish to return to bookwriting. "I'm really hoping once these are finished, that I'll find a musical project I really want to do. I've been talking with a lot of people about musical ideas and I've decided I don't want to do an adaptation of anything. There are a couple things I would really love to adapt, that may or may not come down the pipeline for me, but ultimately, I want to do original stories. A lot of what I loved about doing [Avenue Q] was that it was so completely original and it was really scary — in an exciting way — to have no outline. I'm really hoping to do another musical, but it would have to be an original concept and original story."

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