Lemmon toplines Friedkin's Showtime redo

Casting has been completed on Showtime’s remake of the classic “12 Angry Men,” which is scheduled to begin 10 days of rehearsals on Feb. 10 in preparation for a 10-day shoot later in the month.

The all-star lineup of acting talent — arguably the most impressive cast ever assembled for a single Showtime pro-duction — includes Jack Lemmon, George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Hume Cronyn, Edward James Olmos, Mykelti Williamson, Dorian Harewood, James Gandolfini, Ossie Davis, Armin Mueller-Stahl, William Petersen and Tony Danza. Kathy Baker has also been cast as the judge who oversees the jury trial and deliberation involving a murder suspect.

The theatrical “12 Angry Men,” which followed an acclaimed live TV broadcast, was directed by Sidney Lumet and starred Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Ed Begley, E.G. Marshall, Jack Klugman, Jack Warden and Martin Balsam as jurors arguing the fate of a boy on trial.

Original script

William Friedkin (“The Exorcist,” “The French Connection”), who is directing from the original 1950s script by Reginald Rose, believes that the film is “an American classic that is worthy of reinterpretation in the same way as ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ or new productions of ‘Hamlet’ …

“We’re doing this movie so it lasts, and having the ideal cast that we got makes that possible,” Friedkin added. “We have people who represent the finest of American acting. And MGM Television has really been like a film studio to work with. They are behind this 100%.”

Friedkin said that the film is being made for Showtime’s typical production budget of slightly under $3 million, which means the actors will be earning little more than scale.

‘Just brilliant’

“Certain things don’t become a question of money,” Friedkin stressed. “You almost never — as an actor or a director — get a script like this. It’s just brilliant.”

The film will be shot in sequence, Friedkin said, “which is almost never done. Even the original movie wasn’t done that way. But it will work better for us. I also would have liked to have done it live. I mean literally live. It just didn’t work out, though.”

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