O'Brien won the Tony Award for his direction of the Broadway musical version of the earlier 1988 film by cult director John Waters (whose "A Dirty Shame" is now in movie theatres). Mitchell was Tony-nominated for choreographing Hairspray on Broadway.
The musical's Tony Award-wining songwriters, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, will be the film's executive producers, the trade paper reported. The Tony-winning librettists Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan will transform their libretto into a screenplay.
Hairspray remains a Broadway hit, and has two other productions in North America: a Toronto sitdown and a national tour.
Variety said New Line production president Toby Emmerich and senior vice president of production Mark Kaufman will oversee the "Hairspray" movie musical for the studio, with New Line co-chairmen Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne being active picture's development.
The paper speculated that Marissa Jaret Winokur would bring her Tony-winning performance as portly Tracy Turnblad to the screen. She has ties to New Line with another project. O'Brien and Mitchell, meanwhile, are working on their new stage musical, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, currently doing big business at The Old Globe in San Diego, where O'Brien is artistic director. The new musical arrives on Broadway in early 2005.
Also on Mitchell's horizon is the choreography for La Cage aux Folles and direction and choreography for a future West Side Story.
The plot of the satiric and daffy Hairspray centers on a chubby teen who wants to dance on a local Baltimore teen TV show in the 1960s. In doing so, she gets a makeover for her and her zaftig mama, snags the popular boy and breaks a barrier by getting black kids to dance on the "American Bandstand"-like program, called "The Corny Collins Show."
Broadway performances of Hairspray continue at the Neil Simon Theatre. Michael McKean is the current Edna Turnblad, to be replaced Oct. 5 by Bruce Vilanch. The role has been played by men since the original movie, when Divine donned a housecoat and slippers. Harvey Fierstein won a Tony Award for it.