Disney-Miramax Breakup Imperils Film Version of Damn Yankees

News   Disney-Miramax Breakup Imperils Film Version of Damn Yankees
Lola may not get what Lola wants after all. At least, not from Disney or the Weinstein brothers of Miramax, the two companies who intitiated a projected high-profile remake of the musical Damn Yankees.

Disney and Miramax will part company in September, ending a business marriage that produced many notable films. According to the New York Times, Disney has waived its rights to more than two dozen Miramax projects in development, and the Weinsteins plan to abandon at least a third of them, rather than go through the effort and expense of making and marketing the movies.

One of the casualties may be a film version Damn Yankees, which was to be produced by the "Chicago" movie team of Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.

Yankees was to have been the next Miramax-produced musical to hit the screens.

Playbill.com previously reported that Miramax honcho Harvey Weinstein has secured the rights to the musical and has signed executive producers Zadan and Meron to produce. "I see us updating Damn Yankees, modernizing it, and really having fun with the role of the devil," said Weinstein in a released statement.

Peter Tolan and Mike Martineau had been hired to pen the screenplay. The musical — featuring a book by Douglass Wallop and George Abbott; lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross; and music by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross — follows the story of a man who sells his soul to the devil to join the Washington Senators baseball team in an attempt to defeat the Bronx Bombers.

The original Broadway production opened May 5, 1955 at the 46th Street Theatre (now the Richard Rodgers Theatre) starring Gwen Verdon and Ray Walston. Bob Fosse (Chicago) choreographed. At the Tony Awards that year, Damn Yankees took home the top prize as Best Musical as well as for its stars and choreographer.

Verdon, Walston and much of the original cast reprised their stage roles in the 1958 screen adaptation of the musical. In the 1993-94 Broadway season, the show was revived in a staging by Jack O'Brien. Bebe Neuwirth and Victor Garber starred. Jerry Lewis toured the country with it, playing Mr. Applegate, the devil.

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