HBO has confirmed that it has a TV adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's Assassins "in development," but declined to give any other details, including a time frame.
HBO's Nancy Lesser told Playbill On-Line Mar. 19 that the 1991 Off-Broadway musical, with book and lyrics by John Weidman, is being adapted to the small screen but said HBO has a policy of not commenting on projects in development.
Variety reported in Dec. 1997 that Barry Levinson will develop and direct Assassins, about the various people who have tried and/or succeeded in assassinating a U.S. president, and that Weidman will adapt his libretto, with Sondheim adding songs. Storyline Entertainment's Craig Zadan (author of Sondheim & Co. reportedly will produce with Neil Meron.
Lesser declined to confirm or deny any of those details. She said no further developments are expected for several months.
Paul McKibbins, who handles the rights to Sondheim's music, told Playbill On-Line he had no information on the deal. Along with The Frogs and the early Saturday Night, Assassins is one of the few completed Sondheim musicals never produced on Broadway.
"With all these projects, they go through various stages, which is business as usual for Hollywood. Things get started, then held up. One day both will be made, but they're temporarily delayed. They're huge budgets and require a great deal of care and focus. A lot of things are in various stages of conception, some legit, some not. Most will never see the light of day, yet they're pursued."