Back in December 1995, Playbill On-Line reported that CBS TV was negotiating to develop Wendy Wasserstein's play, The Sisters Rosensweig, as the basis for a new weekly sitcom on the network. CBS, and that Madeline Kahn has been asked to repeat her Tony-winning role as Gorgeous.
Variety now reports that the sitcom is moving full steam ahead -- though not on CBS. Not even in America. Jon Plowman, of AbFab fame, will produce the sitcom for the BBC in London, with Maureen Lipman playing Dr. Gorgeous, as she did at the Greenwich Theatre and Old Vic in 1994. The play is set in London.
In late 1995, CBS Entertainment President Les Moonves told Playbill On Line he was working with Britain's BBC to develop a weekly TV comedy from Wasserstein's1992 play about three American Jewish sisters who undergo an identity crisis when they gather in London after their mother dies.
"When I saw the play I thought, geez, these are characters you wouldn't mind seeing for 100 episodes," said Moonves, who worked as a Broadway company manager early in his career. Moonves said the BBC had optioned the play, so he tried to negotiate how the logistics of a co-production or a piggyback deal would work. Wasserstein is Moonves' second cousin.
Asked by Variety why she chose London over L.A., Wasserstein said "I've always wanted to work here. Les wanted to do it, and I said, actually, because I'm Miss Four-Figure-Deal, I'd rather do it for the BBC first and then sell it to CBS, or maybe I'd rewrite it as an American version...maybe in Boston or wherever. I don't know that you'd want to do it in London." Producer Plowman told Variety that the BBC offers "a slightly less pressured way [of working]. We don't need 26 episodes immediately with 300 other writers. I want Wendy to write it."
The Sisters Rosensweig is looming large in Wasserstein's life right now; she's also working on the screenplay, to be directed by Daniel Sullivan, who helmed the show on Broadway. Ron Kastner will produce the Rosensweig film, as he did for The Substance Of Fire.