It was inevitable. It’s an impossible task trying to keep Hugh Jackman from busting out his song-and-dance-man persona. He loves musical theater so much we imagine he just walks down busy streets trying to get everyone around him to burst into song and perform meticulously choreographed group dance numbers. So it’s good news for the former Wolverine that he’ll be taking on the role of con man Harold Hill in a 2020 revival of Meredith Willson’s 1957 classic musical The Music Man. Produced by Scott Rudin, directed by Jerry Zaks, and with choreography by Tony Award winner Warren Carlyle, the revival will head back to Broadway in September of next year. Jackman himself posted an Instagram teaser picture of a suitcase, a trombone and an ID tag that read “Harold Hill,” none of which is particularly subtle, but entertaining all the same, much like crowd-pleasing musical itself.
Fan or not back in those golden TRL days, you probably always imagined there was something not quite authentic about manufactured groups like Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC. And you were right, only it wasn’t the music that was fake: it was the entire system. In the new documentary, The Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Story, directed by Aaron Kunkel and produced by former *NSYNC-er Lance Bass for YouTube Originals, all the dirty details are laid bare. Producer and music mogul Pearlman organized those two cash-cow groups, among others, and it would have appeared from the outside that everyone was getting rich. Turns out, though, that Pearlman was a criminal running a Ponzi scheme that defrauded everyone in his orbit. Caught and sentenced to 25 years in prison, he died there in 2016. Lance is calling it a cautionary tale for young people entering the music industry, and it’d be wise to watch it before signing any of those dotted lines. The film just premiered at SXSW, and will be streaming soon on a phone near you.
Anna D. Shapiro won a Tony Award in 2008 for directing August: Osage County. Later, Meryl Streep would star in the film version of August, much like she starred in the film adaptation of The Devil Wears Prada. And soon The Devil Wears Prada will come to Broadway in musical form, under Shapiro’s direction, with a book by Paul Rudnick (Addams Family Values) and songs by Elton John. It’s unlikely that Streep will take her singular interpretation of fashion magazine editor Miranda Priestly to the stage to complete this web of interconnectivity, but we can dream (and Streep can sing, too, so please, Queen Meryl, consider the possibilities, and if the answer is still no, THEN GET US PATTI LUPONE). And in case you think these things have nothing to do with you and don’t know the story, Prada concerns a serious young female journalist who takes a job as an assistant to what amounts to the cartoon version of Anna Wintour. Then she learns that no amount of stunning outfits can make her amazing enough for a life in fashion. It happens. And since we’ve already begged Streep to make Broadway Great Again, we’d like to put in a request for an Elton John song called “Cerulean.”
Universal is in talks with screenwriter Richard LaGravenese (The Fisher King) to adapt Mark Griffin’s book All That Heaven Allows: A Biography of Rock Hudson for a planned biopic to be directed by Greg Berlanti (Love, Simon). Hudson’s story is one of fame and fear, one predicated on the other, because the traditionally masculine sex symbol and star of films like Giant was gay. He spent decades hiding in plain sight, even until his death in 1985, trapped in a Hollywood system that did not allow for openly LGBTQ performers. The recent success of the Freddie Mercury biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, hinged on music rather than on an uncomfortable exploration of the closet, and the film never really bothered to find out what toll that experience took on Mercury. Instead, it focused on the construction of the band’s hit songs, the singer’s reputation of general flamboyance and Queen’s Live Aid triumph. But LaGravenese knows this terrain very well, having already penned the Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra, a film that didn’t flinch from the realities of gay oppression in the bad old days, so let’s hope this one gets it right.