NEW YORK — Billy Crystal, now starring on Broadway in his autobiographical “700 Sundays,” is in talks to play Wilbur Turnblad in New Line’s film of “Hairspray.”
Meanwhile, Aretha Franklin is negotiating to play R&B record shop owner Motormouth Maybelle.
New Line said no offers would be made to cast the film until scribe Leslie Dixon (“Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Look Who’s Talking”) finishes the script. She recently replaced the musical’s original book writers, Thomas Meehan and Mark O’Donnell, on the project.
“Hairspray” is expected, but not confirmed, to go before the cameras in September.
Harvey Fierstein and Dick Latessa won Tony Awards in 2003 as Edna and Wilbur in the stage version of John Waters’ 1988 film.
Sources close to “Hairspray” reported last month that John Travolta has the inside track to star as zaftig leading lady Edna Turnblad (Daily Variety, Feb. 23), Wilbur’s wife.