"Don't speak!" Dianne Wiest's pickled movie star implores, memorably, in the Woody Allen comedy, "Bullets Over Broadway." But is it possible she and the other Manhattanites of the picture may sing in a Broadway musical?
In late June 2000, a spokesman at producer Martin Richards' office confirmed what had been seen in The New York Daily News: There are indeed ongoing "conversations" about a stage musical version of the 1994 movie comedy about theatre folk, gangsters and molls in the 1920s.
Marvin Hamlisch was quoted in The Daily News at the time saying he's involved as composer. No other creative personnel were mentioned, although speculation is that Allen would pen the libretto based on his screenplay (with Douglas McGrath). As the mere mention of the show is just now dawning, the show itself probably would not be dimensional for a couple of seasons.
Co-producer Jean Doumanian told Newsday (March 29) Bullets would likely fly over Broadway in 2002-03 and that, "We're just waiting on Woody's schedule. He wants to do the book."
The slowness of the process of playmaking was further confirmed March 7, when a spokesperson at producer Richards' office confirmed only that the project was still being developed but offered neither confirmations nor details regarding any timeframe or people involved. "We have nothing to report," he said. Asked about Bullets, composer Hamlisch's agent, Arnold Liebman, told Playbill On- Line (March 7), "He's working on it," but had no further details. Bullets is likely on Hamlisch's back burner at the moment, since he, John Guare and Craig Carnelia are readying The Sweet Smell of Success for Broadway in spring 2002.
A late-August 2000 report on Inside.com noted that Allen was also considering directing the piece, and that before Hamlisch came on board, Allen considered simply using popular songs of the 1920s and 30s, rather than an original score. Reached Sept. 6, 2000, Alan Eichhorn's office at PMK, which reps author Allen, would not comment on, or even confirm, the project.
"I'm very excited about the project," Hamlisch said in The Daily News. "Between now and August, let the lawyers worry about it. Then we'll worry about it."
Wiest won an Academy Award for her portrayal of a blotto stage star who headlines a young playwright's new work. John Cusack played the playwright who struggles with ideas of art vs. Entertainment and selling out vs. Integrity. His project end up bankrolled by mobsters who insist that a moll to play a pivotal role.
Along with Richards, Jean Doumanian, the longtime producing collaborator of Allen's films, has been mentioned as one of the producers of the proposed stage musical.
Allen's last Broadway play was 1981's The Floating Lightbulb, but his Central Park West was one-third of 1995's off-Broadway hit trilogy of one-acts, Death Defying Acts. Other Allen plays include his early hits Don't Drink the Water and Play It Again, Sam and the published one-act, Death Knocks. Allen's films include Manhattan, Husbands and Wives, Annie Hall and Take the Money and Run.
-- By David Lefkowitz
and Kenneth Jones