Variety reports that Crystal may play Wilbur Turnblad — husband of Edna and father of Tracy — in the New Line film. The industry paper also says that Grammy Award winner Aretha Franklin is in negotiations to play Motormouth Maybelle. The roles of Wilbur and Maybelle were created on Broadway by, respectively, Dick Latessa and Mary Bond Davis. Latessa won a Tony Award for his performance. It was also recently reported that John Travolta may take on the role of Edna Turnblad in the Hairspray film. That role was created to Tony-winning effect by Harvey Fierstein, who is currently on Broadway in the revival of Fiddler on the Roof.
No official offers will be made until new screenwriter Leslie Dixon — who recently replaced Hairspray scribes Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan — finishes her script. The film is expected to begin shooting in September.
Hairspray, based on the 1988 John Waters film of the same name, currently plays Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre. The show won 2003 Tony Awards for Best Score (Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman), Best Book (Thomas Meehan and Mark O'Donnell), Best Actress in a Musical (Marissa Jaret Winokur), Best Actor (Harvey Fierstein), Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Dick Latessa), Best Costume Design (William Ivey Long), Best Musical and Best Direction of a Musical.