Nederlander gets big guns for ‘Little Pinks’

Leight, Menken, Adler inked for tuner

The Nederlander Organization has assembled some top-flight guys and dolls to turn Damon Runyon’s short story “Little Pinks” into a Broadway musical.

A deal has been inked with Warren Leight, whose hit play “Side Man” transfers to the John Golden Theater next month, to write the book.

Alan Menken, the multiple-Oscar winner behind Disney toons “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” “Pocahontas” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” will be the composer.

Marion Adler, who wrote the lyrics for the musical “Enter the Guardsman,” which premiered at London’s Donmar Warehouse last year, will be the lyricist.

The Nederlander Organization is producing and has first-class rights. According to a knowledgeable person at the organization, the tuner will bow “at the earliest” during the 1999-2000 season.

Lapine may join?

While no helmer has officially signed on, insiders speculate that James Lapine, at work on Disney Theatricals’ “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” may join the project. Menken is also at work on the stage adaptation of that Disney toon, which bows next year in Germany.

The Runyon short story was also the basis for an Irving Reis-helmed 1942 RKO pic, “The Big Street,” starring Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball. Pic centered on the Cyrano de Bergerac-ish tale of a coy nightclub busboy, Little Pinks, who is in love from afar with a nightclub singer.

Casting has not yet been determined for the tuner. The Nederlanders hold the rights to the short story, and must have a first draft completed by year’s end or risk losing the rights.

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