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A B’way bio binge

John Lennon tuner joins Springer opus

The late John Lennon and Jerry Springer would not appear, at first blush, to have much, if anything, in common.

But they could be sharing the Broadway spotlight in the near future, as bio-tuners about both are firming plans for New York.

First to arrive will be the new bio-musical about Lennon. It is aiming for a Broadway preem in late March 2005.

Formerly known as “The John Lennon Project,” the newly retitled “Lennon” is coming off a successful reading last month.

Producers Edgar Lansbury, Don Scardino and Allan McKeown said they will move ahead with a full production, capitalized at $7.5 million.

They have set one more reading, for June, before the show’s world preem Feb. 1 at San Francisco’s Curran Theater. A week after concluding its S.F. run, “Lennon” comes into Gotham at a Broadway theater to be announced.

The musical follows the post-Beatles Lennon through songs he wrote after the group disbanded. “Imagine,” “Mind Games,” “Gimme Some Truth” and “Working-Class Hero,” among others, will be featured.

Sony’s ATV owns the John Lennon-Paul McCartney catalog.

The “Lennon” producers negotiated separately for the rights to “Give Peace a Chance,” which Lennon recorded with the Plastic Ono Band but is credited as Lennon-McCartney. Scardino said they had recently secured those rights as well.

“We couldn’t do the show without ‘Give Peace a Chance,’ ” said Scardino, who is the tuner’s director.

Lansbury and Scardino first discussed a possible Lennon tuner with his widow, Yoko Ono, about three years ago.

McKeown is a more recent addition to the “Lennon” producing team.

His only previous Broadway credit was under his banner Witzend, which produced “The Big Love” in 1991.

He produced, among other shows, TV’s “Tracey Ullman Takes On,” several episodes of which were directed by Scardino.

McKeown also is on the producing team for “Jerry Springer — The Opera,” which will open on Broadway in October 2005, also after a tryout in San Francisco.

After stands at London’s National Theater and in the West End, the musical by Stewart Lee and Richard Thomas opens Oct. 20, 2005, at a Broadway theater to be announced.

Before coming to Gotham, “Springer” plays a six-week engagement at San Francisco’s Orpheum Theater in spring 2005. Lee will direct.

Producer Jon Thoday of Avalon Promotions made the announcement.

Thoday thinks the “Springer” musical will play well on Springer’s home turf. A good sign for him was show’s Thanksgiving weekend 2003 on the West End. “There were so many Americans in the audience, it was like being in America,” he said.

Still, he can’t be sure. “It’s one reason we’re going to San Francisco first, to see what might have to be changed. We don’t see it as a guarantee,” said Thoday. “We know we’ll have to make some comedic changes.”

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