Stage Version of Fannie Flagg's "Fried Green Tomatoes" Is Broadway-Bound; Producer Seeks Playwright

News   Stage Version of Fannie Flagg's "Fried Green Tomatoes" Is Broadway-Bound; Producer Seeks Playwright Jeffrey Finn, the Broadway producer represented by the current revival of On Golden Pond, has optioned Fannie Flagg's novel "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café" for a stage version to be called Fried Green Tomatoes, aimed for a Broadway future.

The property is widely known as a 1991 Hollywood movie, "Fried Green Tomatoes," that tells the story of Alabama friends Ruth and Idgie. In the picture, their story is told by an aged lady (Jessica Tandy), with a housewife in crisis (Kathy Bates) as her rapt audience.

Finn announced that he's currently seeking playwrights to pen the adaptation, which will world-premiere at a "major regional" theatre in late 2006 prior to a Broadway premiere in 2007.

Original novelist Flagg will work with the playwright on the development of the project. (Some fans of the book and movie have said the colorful location, passionate characters and sexual tension of the story provide the ingredients for a strong musical, too, but one step at a time.)

"Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café" was published in 1987 and spent 36 weeks on The New York Times Bestseller List. It was adapted by Flagg (and co-writer Jon Avnet) for the movies. Her screenplay was nominated for an Academy Award and the film grossed over $150 million in worldwide box office and rentals.

"The colorful goings-on at The Whistle Stop Café in Alabama are the meat of the stories spun by Mrs. Ninny Threadgoode, a feisty old woman who finds an unlikely audience in Evelyn Couch, a woman in the slump of a mid-life crisis," according to notes from producer Finn's office. "Mrs. Threadgoode tells the heartwarming and often hilarious tales of two women: the beautiful Ruth and her best friend, the irrepressibly dare-devilish tomboy Idgie. As owners of The Whistle Stop, they serve up generous helpings of great food, Southern wisdom and a side dish of intrigue. As the past unfolds, the spirit of Ruth and Idgie rubs off on Evelyn, giving her a new lease on life." The writing of the novel "began when Ms. Flagg received a shoebox full of items once belonging to her Aunt Bess who, like the character Idgie, owned a café near the railroad tracks. Ms. Flagg developed the story through countless hours of interviews."

The film, produced and directed by Jon Avnet, featured an all-star cast including Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary Stuart Masterson, Mary-Louise Parker and Cicely Tyson. Tandy played Mrs. Threadgoode.

Flagg also received a Grammy Award nomination for her narration of the novel for Random House Audio Books.

Flagg began writing and producing television specials at age 19 and went on to be an actress and writer in television, films and the theatre. She began behind the scenes of television's "Candid Camera" and progressed to an on-camera position as performer-writer. As an actress, she appeared in such movies as "Five Easy Pieces" with Jack Nicholson, "Stay Hungry" with Jeff Bridges and Sally Field and, more recently, "Crazy in Alabama" with Melanie Griffith. On the New York stage her credits include Patio/Porch; Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean; and the lead role in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Of her countless television appearances, she is perhaps best known as a regular on the '70s game show "Match Game," being rediscovered in reruns.

Flagg's first novel, "Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man," was on The New York Times bestseller list for 10 weeks. Her other novels include "Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!" (a New York Times Notable Book of the Year), "Standing in the Rainbow" and her most recent "A Redbird Christmas," soon to be a major motion picture.

Producer Finn is the lead producer of the current Broadway production of On Golden Pond starring James Earl Jones and Leslie Uggams, the premiere of which he produced at The Kennedy Center in fall 2004. Current productions include The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber; Game Show, for which Finn is also a co-author; and the U.S. and international tours of A Few Good Men...DANCIN'. Previous U.S. tours include The Who's Tommy ; Andrew Lloyd Webber's Tell Me On A Sunday; Leader of the Pack; Promises, Promises; Company; Chess and a series of national concert tours produced under the umbrella of Broadway Songbooks.

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