'Porgy and Bess': Update to Gershwin

Producers Mike Medavoy and Bobby Geisler are developing a re-envisioned and updated film version of George and Ira Gershwin’s iconic opera  “Porgy and Bess.”

The duo is working with the Gershwin family and the estate of lyricist DuBose Heyward to develop the project. Marc George Gershwin, nephew of the Gershwin brothers, told Variety that he’s optimistic that Medavoy and Geisler will be able to produce a fresh take on the 1935 work.

“We get approached a lot with ideas that aren’t very good but Mike has a great track record,” Gershwin noted. “We’re confident that he’s going to able to find the right director and writer. And we already have the music.”

“Porgy and Bess” premiered in New York in 1935 with a cast of African-American singers, featuring the songs “Summertime,” “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” “Bess You Is My Woman Now,” “I Loves You Porgy” and “I Got Plenty of Nuttin.”

Samuel Goldwyn produced a 1959 film version of “Porgy and Bess,” starring Sidney Poitier and Dorothy Dandridge. Rouben Mamoulian, who directed the 1935 Broadway premiere, had been hired to direct the film but was replaced by Otto Preminger.

The Gershwin estate was disappointed with the 1959 film. “Hopefully, this new one is going to be a lot better,” Marc Gershwin added.

Medavoy is a Hollywood fixture with stints as a United Artists exec, co-founder of Orion Pictures and chairman of TriStar Pictures before founding Phoenix Pictures, where he’s produced “The Thin Red Line,” “Zodiac,” “Shutter Island” and “Black Swan.” Geisler was a producer on “The Thin Red Line.”

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