CBS-TV announced April 19 that Reba McEntire has signed to star in a TV movie of Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun, with Barry and Fran Weissler among producers.
The Weisslers current stage revival of the famed tuner about Annie Oakley got a major shot in the arm earlier this year when country superstar McEntire joined the company in the title role. Rave reviews for her country-twanging performance warmed up the box office and rejuvenated the show. Bernadette Peters and Tom Wopat were the original stars of the Tony Award-winning revival, which opened in Broadway in early 1999.
The TV movie is now in development for broadcast on CBS. Producers include CBS Productions, Jaffe-Braunstein Films ("Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific"), Starstruck Entertainment and the Weisslers.
The highly fictionalized tale of sharpshooter Annie Oakley and her romance with promoter-husband, Frank Butler, offers some of the 20th century's most beloved tunes, including "There's No Business Like Show Business," "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly," "The Girl That I Marry," "Lost in His Arms," "Anything You Can Do" and "I Got the Sun in the Morning."
Coinciding with the announcement of the film is news that Grammy Award-winner McEntire will stay on with Annie Get Your Gun at Broadway's Marquis Theatre until June 22. She was originally announced through May 27. She joined the troupe Jan. 26. This won't be the first time McEntire has played Oakley on the small screen. She appeared as the country-fried markswoman in the TV miniseries "Buffalo Girls," on CBS.
Producer Howard Braunstein told Playbill On-Line April 20 that there is no timetable yet for the project, and that the possible actors' and writers' strikes may impact the telepic's progress. He did confirm the story will be "opened up" as a feature-like studio film rather than a document of the Marquis production. Peter Stone, who adapted the original libretto by Herbert and Dorothy Fields for the revival, is penning the screenplay. Stone erased some of the offensive, outdated references to Native Americans in the stage script, and streamlined and rethought plot elements.
"It's a fantastic musical, it's an American classic," said Braunstein. "Combined with Reba, who defines the role, it's a natural fit for CBS."
Other Jaffe-Braunstein projects have included "The Nero Wolfe Mysteries" and "First Do No Harm."