As reported by Variety (Aug. 24), filming will begin in Toronto in September on a TV-movie version of A.R. Gurney's comedy/drama Love Letters. Laura Linney, last on Broadway in Honour, will star in the piece, about lifelong friends who take very different paths over the years.
Martin Starger and Leonard Goldberg are producing the telefilm, which has yet to cast its male lead. The film is scheduled to air on ABC-TV on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, 1999.
Linney's other theatre credits include The Sea Gull: The Hamptons, 1990 and Sight Unseen. She's the daughter of playwright Romulus Linney.
Gurney's 1989 play became popular on the regional and benefit circuit because of its epistolary set-up; the piece was read rather than memorized, so famous actors could step into the two parts with minimal rehearsal time.
Love Letters premiered in 1989 with Joanna Gleason and John Rubinstein (at CT's Long Wharf) and has since been performed nationally and internationally by such actors as Christopher Walken and Diane Ladd, Jayne Meadows and Steve Allen, Robert Wagner and Jill St. John, Marsha Mason and Neil Simon, among many others. Months ago, rumor had it that because of the demands of commercial filmmaking, changes to the play will include eliminating some of the adolescent scenes and making the adult characters a bit younger. As it stands, the film will apparently start with the two in college and end with them in their 40s.
Although, according to Gurney's agent Gilbert Parker (at the William Morris Agency), Gurney wrote three drafts of the screenplay, the script was worked on by other writers, the last of which was Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Cristofer (The Shadow Box). Parker told Playbill On Line (Aug. 24) Gurney is now giving the script "a final polish" and will probably receive sole credit on the finished film.
Herbert Ross (Boys on the Side) had been scheduled to direct, but Stanley Donen (co-director of filmdom's Singin' In The Rain) has instead taken the helm.
Other Gurney plays include Labor Day, Later Life, Sylvia and The Dining Room. A film adaptation of Sylvia is also planned for Paramount, with Gurney having written a draft of the screenplay and other writers now working on it. (Agent Parker told Playbill On-Line that playwright/actor Steve Martin apparently penned a draft of Sylvia as well.)
Gurney's current theatre projects include Far East, due for Off-Broadway this season (at a theatre to be announced), and NJ's George Street Playhouse to open its season in October with Darlene and the Guest Lecturer.
-- By David Lefkowitz