Sondheim’s ‘Murder’ suits Neufeld

Producer Mace Neufeld is teaming with Stephen Sondheim and George Furth to bring their 1995 play “Getting Away With Murder” to the bigscreen for Paramount Pictures.

The comedy-thriller, which has been renamed “An Hour to Kill,” is Sondheim’s only nonmusical stage play. He and Furth will pen the screenplay, with Neufeld producing.

“Hour” deals with seven people in a therapy group, one of whom turns out to be a killer. When one evening’s session ends in murder, the group decides the best way to avoid publicity is to solve the mystery themselves.

Neufeld, who said he has long wanted to work with Sondheim, saw the play when it was first produced (under the name “The Doctor Is Out”) at San Diego’s Globe Theater in 1995. The play moved to Broadway in March 1996.

Able to show

“I think we can do better justice to the story onscreen than they were able to do on stage because of the detailed clues we’ll be able to show,” Neufeld told Daily Variety.

Sondheim’s illustrious 40-year career has included writing lyrics for “Gypsy” and “West Side Story,” and the music and lyrics for such Broadway shows as “Company,” “Sunday in the Park With George” and “Into the Woods.”

His screenplay credits include “The Last of Sheila” (co-written with Anthony Perkins). His songs were featured in film versions of “West Side Story,” “Gypsy,” “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” and “A Little Night Music.”

Sondheim received an Oscar for the song “Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)” from “Dick Tracy.”

In addition to “Murder,” Furth collaborated with Sondheim on two musicals: “Company” and “Merrily We Roll Along.” His other writing credits include “Twigs,” “The Act” “The Supporting Cast” and “Precious Sons.”

Neufeld is currently developing “Pathfinder” as well as “The General’s Daughter,” with Simon West (“Con Air”) attached to direct.

Since 1989, Neufeld has had an exclusive deal with Paramount, where he served as producer on one of the studio’s most successful franchises, the three film adaptations of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan novels.

Neufeld produced Par’s “The Hunt for Red October” and, with former partner Robert Rehme, the Harrison Ford starrers “Patriot Games” and “Clear and Present Danger.” Together, the three films grossed more than $325 million domestically.

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