Film being developed around singer's catalog

Barry Manilow, matinee idol?

Single Cell partners Sandy Stern and Michael Stipe and Playtone partners Gary Goetzman and Tom Hanks have joined forces to develop a romantic comedy that will exploit the song catalogue of singer/songwriter Barry Manilow. Manilow’s manager, Garry Kief, will also produce.

Deal follows Sony’s recent deal to make a theatrical release of rehearsal footage from Michael Jackson’s final concert, and Disney’s negotiations to make a Robert Zemeckis-directed “Yellow Submarine” remake in performance capture 3-D that will use classic Beatles songs.

Manilow has pledged his support, and songs, to the project. The producers will first take the project to Universal, where Playtone has its first-look deal.

Though Playtone produced the U blockbuster “Mamma Mia!,” the idea for the film is closer in tone to “Love Actually.” Characters will not follow a plot and burst into song, as Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan and others did with Abba tunes in “Mamma Mia!”

The project was hatched by Stern, who hooked Manilow with the idea of making a character-driven romantic comedy with intersecting storylines involving Manilow fans who are all arriving in Las Vegas on a weekend where Manilow will headline at the Mandalay Bay. His music will be heard throughout the movie. Manilow will also perform a song or two in the film.

Manilow, who was repped in the deal by WME, will be a collaborator in shaping the project once a writer is hired. This is the first time Manilow has given access to his catalogue for a film.

Troy Queen and Mark Grove will also be involved as producers.

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