Spielberg Will Direct New "Harvey" Picture

By Ernio Hernandez
August 2, 2009

Harvey, the Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy by Mary Chase, is being adapted for a second film version, this one directed by Academy Award winner Steven Spielberg, according to Variety.

The picture, to start filming in early 2010, will be a co-production from 20th Century Fox and DreamWorks and will have a screenplay by novelist Jonathan Tropper.

No casting has been announced. The first film of the 1944 play starred James Stewart as quirky Elwood P. Dowd, whose best friend is a six-foot rabbit that only he can see.

The project will be produced by Spielberg ("E.T.," "Jaws," "Saving Private Ryan") and Don Gregory, with Elizabeth Gabler and Carla Hacken overseeing for Fox 2000, which acquired the rights from stage producer Gregory (The Belle of Amherst) in 2008.

Spielberg's DreamWorks film about Abraham Lincoln (with Tony Kushner attached as screenwriter) was not yet ready to shoot, according to the trade paper, so Harvey has been fast-tracked.

Antoinette Perry directed the original Broadway production of Harvey, which ran at the 48th Street Theatre 1944-49. Frank Fay played Elwood. A 1970 Broadway revival by ANTA starred James Stewart (brining his 1950 movie role to the stage) and Helen Hayes (who was nominated for a Best Actress Tony Award).

Producer Gregory had hoped to bring a legit production of Harvey starring Charles Durning and Dick Van Patten to Broadway in fall 2003, under the direction of Charles Nelson Reilly. It did not get beyond a Laguna Playhouse tryout.

Gregory's most recent announced Broadway project was Flying Tigers, a musical about a real-life World War II pilot who fought the Japanese in the skies over China, becoming a hero to the Chinese. The large-cast epic (with a target date of April 2007) was to have book by William Luce (Belle of Amherst, Lillian, Barrymore), music by Roger Anderson (Chaplin, Shine) and lyrics by BMI Workshop writer Kenneth Jones (Naughty/Nice, Voice of the City). The show did not materialize; the songwriters continue to develop an intimate version of the story.