WB scores coup with Wildhorn

Warner Bros. has hired Frank Wildhorn, who has penned everything from stage musicals to Whitney Houston hits, to create and develop music projects for the studio.

Wildhorn, who came to the lot at the urging of one of the studio’s more important producers, Lauren Shuler-Donner (“Dave” and “Free Willy”), will work on creating live action and animated projects for WB. Initially, he is developing material with Shuler-Donner.

“The focus of the whole thing is to create projects,” Wildhorn said.

In addition to writing Houston’s “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” and “I Do,” for Natalie Cole and Freddie Jackson, Wildhorn has several legit music credits as well. Most recently, he collaborated with Oscar-winning lyricist Leslie Bricusse on “Jekyll and Hyde,” which is headed to Broadway.

He also developed the score for “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” with Nan Knighton; “Svengali” with Gregory Boyd; the stage production of “Cyrano de Bergerac”; and “The Road to Nirvana.” He is currently working on the full-length ballet “Natasha” for the Bolshoi Ballet, as well as the opera “Vampyr” with Gregory Boyd.

The move is unusual for WB, which has never had a contract with a musician to develop unspecified projects.

Storytelling gifts

“Frank is a gifted storyteller through his use of music and lyrics,” Bruce Berman, WB’s worldwide production prexy, said in a statement. “His broad base of experience in live and recorded entertainment will make him a wonderful resource to Warner Bros.”

Disney past

Shuler-Donner first came across Wildhorn a few years ago when the two almost worked together on a pic she was developing at Disney. She decided more recently to try to work with him after hearing the score from “Jekyll and Hyde.””It’s a gorgeous, gorgeous score,” Shuler-Donner said. “I thought, ‘This guy is terrific. I want to be in business with him.’ ”

Shuler-Donner said the two are considering a number of different projects, for film and TV. But they have yet to develop any specific projects.

“We’re sort of in the beginning stages,” Shuler-Donner said. “I love musicals and I would love to be involved in them.”

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