Rob Marshall set to direct adaptation

The Weinstein Co. has added another high-profile name to “Nine,” tapping Oscar-nommed screenwriter and novelist Michael Tolkin to pen the screen adaptation.

Rob Marshall is producing and directing the adaptation of the 1982 Broadway musical, which in turn was based on the Fellini film “8½.”

Tolkin said Marshall’s commitment to keeping the movie rooted in the postwar cinema of Italy was a key reason he wanted to embark on his first musical venture.

“On 500 channels of cable and satellite, the classic Italian cinema is lost for the young people of today,” he said. “It was the era of skinny ties and the original cool sunglasses.”

A longtime fan of Italian postwar cinema, Tolkin said he had seen “La dolce vita” and “8½” more than 10 times apiece. “At the Oscars one year, I helped (Marcello) Mastroianni up the stairs,” he added, “so working on ‘Nine’ gives me a chance to have fun with things that have always been important to me.”

Harvey Weinstein, whose teaming with Marshall on “Chicago” yielded an Oscar win for picture and a worldwide gross north of $300 million, called Tolkin the perfect man for the “Nine” job. “Michael’s unique understanding of show business and the creative process will help create a clever and sexy film.”

“Nine” follows the life of famous film director Guido Contini as he reaches a creative and personal crisis and has to balance the numerous women in his life, including his wife, his mistress, his film-star muse, his agent and his mother.

The long-running 1980s production featured career-defining turns by Raul Julia and Chita Rivera, among others. The original was directed by Tommy Tune and choreographed by Thommie Walsh. The show was successfully revived in 2003.

Maury Yeston, composer and lyricist for the original production that won the Tony for musical, will reprise his role for the film. The musical was first adapted by Mario Fratti, with a book by Arthur Kopit.

Yeston and Kopit sold rights to the show to TWC and will serve as co-exec producers. John DeLuca, a partner with Marshall in Lucamar Prods., also will be a producer, and he and Marshall will choreograph the film.

Casting is still ongoing, and Marshall has said that talent availability will in large part determine whether the pic can be ready by 2008 or not until 2009 or beyond.

Tolkin’s last produced screenplay was “Changing Lanes” in 2002. The “Player” scribe has also written novels; his fourth, “The Return of the Player,” was published in fall 2006 by Grove/Atlantic. He has written two current pilots in development at HBO, one of which he is exec producing.

Eric Roth and Laine Kline negotiated on behalf of TWC.

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