More than two years ago, plans were afoot to bring Mark Victor Olsen's play, Cornelia, about the life of governor George Wallace's second wife, to Broadway. Though there's been little actual movement on that front, the show is still slated for production at some point by Barry and Fran Weissler.
Olsen is currently working on the screenplay for a film version of Cornelia, whose movie rights were recently bought by Barwood Films, according to Olsen's rep at the Jack Tantleff office. Olsen's updated bio there notes that the play is slated for Broadway this season, but production spokesperson Pete Sanders told Playbill On-Line that the show was "not on the schedule at this point," and no stars are attached.
Director Christopher Ashley is still apparently attached to the project, which was originally to be staged by Jerry Zaks show. Ashley's early assignments included Buzzsaw Berkeley and Bella, Belle of Byelorussia, while more recent gigs have been the cartoony biography of Gilda Radner, Bunny Bunny, and the cartoon-based Encores! revival of Li'l Abner His breakthrough was Jeffrey by playwright Paul Rudnick.
Previously, Elizabeth Ashley had been mentioned for the role of Ruby, Cornelia Wallace's mother in Cornelia. Ashley received a 1962 Tony Award for her performance with Art Carney in Take Her, She's Mine. Her other Broadway credits include The Highest Tree, Barefoot in the Park, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Agnes of God.
Olsen's play is based on George Wallace's relationship with his second wife during his unsuccessful presidential bid. George Wallace passed away in 1998. One of America's most colorful, if infamous governors, he is remembered for instigating the historic confrontation over school desegregation in which the National Guard was called in by the White House to keep the doors of the University of Alabama open for black students. Wallace was shot in an assassination attempt during the early '70s while running for president, and was bound to a wheelchair for the remainder of his life.
-- By David Lefkowitz
and Murdoch McBride