And the casting of the movie version of Chicago grows curiouser and curiouser. The latest name to be courted for the Mirimax project is pop star Britney Spears, the innocent-but-sexy teenage star of radio, video, pay-per-view concerts and soda pop ads. According to Variety, Spears is wanted for the cameo role of "Go to Hell" Kitty in the film. Kitty, the murderous daughter of a wealthy merchant, has just a few lines in the stage musical, including, of course: "Go to hell!"
The most recent casting news had Christine Baranski playing soft soap reporter, Mary Sunshine, who sings the number, "A Little Bit of Good."
Baranski told Playbill On-Line "they usually get a drag queen to play [that role], so I'm not sure what to make of that." In the musical, Sunshine is revealed to be a man in woman's clothing at a key moment during the trial of murderess Roxie Hart. The flick is filming in Toronto.
Rap star, talk show host and sometime actress, Queen Latifa will play Matron "Mama" Morton in the Miramax flick. She joined the already announced Renee Zellweger as Roxie, Catherine Zeta Jones as Velma, Richard Gere as Billy Flynn, John C. Reilly as Amos and R&B singer Mya as cellblock girl Mona.
Chicago opened on Broadway on Nov. 11, 1996, and talks of a film version of the hit revival have lasted nearly as long. At various times stars such as Goldie Hawn and Madonna were attached to the project, as well as scribes like Larry Gelbart and Wendy Wasserstein. Original stage stars Bebe Neuwirth, Anne Reinking and James Naughton have never really been in the running to recreate their roles on film. *
Filming is expected to begin in Toronto in the coming weeks for the new feature-film musical, "Chicago." Directed and choreographed by Rob Marshall, who scored big with TV's "Annie," the film is produced by Marty Richards and Miramax's Harvey Weinstein and executive produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron of Storyline Entertainment.
Paul Bogaev (TV's "Cinderella" and "Annie") is music director. The movie is expected to be released at Christmas 2002. The filming is expected to begin the week of Dec. 10, although the schedule my change slightly as production factors dictate.
It is not yet clear how screenwriter Condon is adapting the libretto by Ebb and Fosse into a film script. The stage show has a free-wheeling, presentational vaudeville frame — the story is told as a series of vaudeville specialty numbers (the fan dance, the ventriloquist act, the sad clown number, etc.). The score by composer Kander and lyricist Ebb is considered one of the best from the team, and includes "Razzle Dazzle," "All I Care About," "Cell Block Tango," "A Little Bit of Good," "I Can't Do It Alone," "My Own Best Friend," "Roxie" and "All That Jazz."