Musical theatre fans have been grumbling for years that the 1974 movie version of the stage musical, Mame, didn't do justice to the Jerry Herman score or the story of everyone's favorite free-spirited aunt.
According to a story in Variety Feb. 12, ABC, Barbra Streisand and Storyline Entertainment will try to open a new window on "Mame" when they team to make a three-hour TV movie musical version of the 1966 Broadway hit, to air "next season" -- not likely before the end of 1999.
Streisand is not signed to star in the new version, but her and Cis Corman's Barwood Productions will executive produce the musical, with Neil Meron and Craig Zadan's Storyline Entertainment (co-producers of the 1997 "Wonderful World of Disney" hit, "Cinderella" and the upcoming TV version of "Annie").
However, Variety reported that a spokesman at Streisand's office said she might consider the role once a script is delivered, "but she's made no commitment at this point other than to executive produce."
A script writer for the teleplay, based on the Jerome Lawrence-Robert E. Lee libretto and the original book by Patrick Dennis, was not announced, nor was a director. Streisand, who starred in TV specials but never a TV musical, sang the work of Jerry Herman as the star of the film, "Hello, Dolly!"
The movie version of "Mame" starring Lucille Ball was directed by Gene Saks through filtered lenses that made Ball seem ageless and somewhat hazy. Not in good voice, the comic actress disappointed fans of the score who hoped to hear "If He Walked Into My Life," "Bosom Buddies," "Open a New Window" and "It's Today" belted with more confidence.
Robert Preston starred as Beau, Bruce Davison was the adult Patrick and Beatrice Arthur recreated her Tony Award-winning stage role as Vera Charles. It was Ball's last theatrical film.
The previous Barwood-Storyline collaboration was "Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story" in 1995 starring Glenn Close.
Walt Disney Television and ABC will produce "Mame," suggesting the project may be targeted for the "Wonderful World of Disney" spot that blasted "Cinderella" to stratospheric ratings in 1997. "Cinderella" will be rebroadcast 7-9 PM (ET) Feb. 14 on ABC.
-- By Kenneth Jones