Broadway's Victor Garber, known to a new generation of fans as the spy-father on TV's "Alias," is in talks to play Tevye the milkman in the planned TV movie, "Fiddler on the Roof."
The television event has been in the planning stages for a couple of years out of the office of Craig Zadan and Neil Meron's Storyline Entertainment, the production company that put together the ratings smashes "Annie" and "Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella," as well as the forthcoming Matthew Broderick-Kristin Chenoweth version of "The Music Man" for "Wonderful World of Disney" (airing Feb. 23, 2003).
The project is in its earliest stages of development, a spokesman for Storyline told Playbill On-Line, with no start date for filming or green light from ABC. But a spokesman for four-time Tony Award nominee Garber (the original Anthony Hope of Sweeney Todd) told Playbill On-Line that the actor is in talks to play Tevya, the philosophical Russian peasant at the center of the landmark piece and one of the major roles in musical theatre history.
Zero Mostel created Tevye in the Broadway premiere of the musical by Joseph Stein, Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock. Since then, important Tevyes have included Theodore Bikel, who has toured in recent seasons; Topol, who played the role several times on stage as well as in the film of the musical; and Luther Adler and Herschel Bernardi, both of whom followed Mostel into the role on Broadway.
Sources also have Andrea Martin (Oklahoma! and the forthcoming Paper Doll) being considered for Golda, Tevye's wife. Storyline would not confirm or deny any contact with Martin. In previous weeks, Variety had mentioned Tony Shaloub (of TV's "Wings" and "Monk") as a possible Tevye contender. Garber's time is currently taken up by the hit ABC television series, "Alias," in which he plays a CIA double agent. His last Broadway appearance was in Art. Musical Broadway credits include the 1994 Broadway revival of Damn Yankees, the 1982 revival of Little Me and the original production of Sweeney Todd. He also starred in the national tour of They're Playing Our Song. He was Tony nommed for Deathtrap, Lend Me a Tenor, Little Me and Damn Yankees.
Garber plays Mayor Shinn in the Storyline TV version of The Music Man.
The story for Fiddler on the Roof—which is set in 1900 Russia and tells of the beleaguered, Old World Tevya and his three marriageable, increasingly modern daughters—was taken from the stories of Yiddish writer Sholom Aleichem. Joseph Stein penned the book, with the composing team of Jerry Bock (music) and Sheldon Harnick (lyrics) writing the classic score. Among the many well remembered songs in the score are "Tradition," "If I Were a Rich Man," "Sunrise, Sunset" and "Matchmaker, Matchmaker." The show ran for 3,242 performances. Jerome Robbins directed and choreographed, with Harold Prince producing.
Playbill previously reported in 2000 that the "Fiddler" telepic would likely be a three-hour event, and the aim initially was possibly as early as the 2001-2002 season, depending on how fast casting and production elements could gel.
Storyline's Craig Zadan and Neil Meron will executive produce. It was earlier reported the plan was to preserve the original Jerome Robbins choreography of the 1964 show.