It's only appropriate that a play about someone as tempestuous as opera diva Maria Callas should have a turbulent trip to the big screen. Faye Dunaway, on tour in the role originated on Broadway by Zoe Caldwell and continued there by Patti LuPone and Dixie Carter, had been battling producer Lester Persky over the rights to Terrence McNally's drama.
Variety now reports they've settled the suit for an undisclosed sum -- and Dunaway now owns the film rights to the play. She plans to star.
Back in summer 1997, Variety's Army Archerd had reported of a battle between Dunaway's agent, Sam Cohn, and film producer Persky. The latter allegedly wasn't ready to assume that Dunaway would automatically star in the film version of the Terrence McNally drama. Cohn countered that a major reason Dunaway was doing the tour was a contractual understanding that she'd get the film as well.
Archerd then quoted Robert Whitehead, a producer of the Master Class Broadway production and tour, as being livid that Dunaway, in a letter to him, threatened to quit the tour if the issue wasn't resolved. Whitehead told Variety, "She would be totally in breach of her contract. I've notified the theatre she's to be there. It's insane! Her desire to get the film (rights) is another matter..."
A matter, apparently, of fact. -- By David Lefkowitz