Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman’s production company Playtone is in the early stages of turning the Hanks-directed and scripted 1996 film “That Thing You Do!” into a Broadway musical.
The package is being put together by Hank’s agents at CAA, and early meetings have been held to draft a top-flight musical director, with Des McAnuff among them.
“That Thing You Do!” focused on the quick rise and fall of the Wonders, a fictional Erie, Pa.-based rock band whose catchy title song (written by Adam Schlesinger) fueled a quick rise to the top of the pop charts.
The film starred Tom Everett Scott, Johnathon Schaech, Steve Zahn and Liv Tyler, and the title song, heard repeatedly in the film, was nominated for an Oscar.
The idea of turning “That Thing You Do!” into a musical arose because schools have barraged the production company with requests to use “That Thing You Do!” as the basis for local productions.
The film became a charm for Playtone, the production company named after the record label in the film. While Playtone is hatching such projects as the upcoming 10-part $120 million WWII miniseries “Band of Brothers” for HBO and the John Sayles-scripted drama “A Cold Case” for Hanks to star in, it has also become a viable record label as well.
Distributed by Sony, Playtone has released soundtracks to “That Thing You Do!,” “Bring It On,” “Josie and the Pussycats” and “The Sopranos.”
While the project is just beginning to come together — songs have to be written and Hanks’ script transferred into a stage format — one of its biggest selling points is that name young singers could be enlisted for short stage stays.
CONDON’S SWEET ON “SUGAR”: While there seems to be hope that a writer’s strike could be averted this week, dealmakers for scribes have been working overtime trying to close deals that will get their clients as much advance money as possible. One of the biggest last minute deals came Friday when Universal agreed to pay about $700,000 to Oscar-winning “Gods and Monsters” writer Bill Condon to adapt “In the Kingdom of Big Sugar,” an investigative article in Vanity Fair that was set up earlier this year by the studio for Tribeca Prods. partners Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal to produce. Condon’s a hot scribe right now, having adapted the stage musical “Chicago” into a feature film with Rob Marshall directing. “Big Sugar” was written by Marie Brenner, the investigative journo whose earlier Vanity Fair article on tobacco whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand became the basis for Michael Mann’s “The Insider.” Here, she focuses on Alfy and Pepe Fenjul, two guys whose birthright, a sugar manufacturing operation in Cuba built by their father, was stripped by the Fidel Castro-led revolution.
LUCK OF THE IRISH: As “Harry Potter” rules the bestseller lists, “Artemis Fowl” may very well become the next literary sensation. The book will be published by Talk Miramax next month after earning Irish author Eoin Colfer the largest advance in history for an unknown children’s author. The book and subsequent screen deal with Miramax and Tribeca has made the schoolteacher a sudden millionaire after the Frankfurt Book Fair led to 17 international book deals. But the prospect of a film is especially gratifying, since Colfer is a movie buff who fashioned his tale of fairies, leprechauns and gnomes into a “Die Hard” for the half-pint set. Colfer has had preliminary meetings with scribe Jeff Stockwell (the upcoming “Rock Star,” “The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys”), hired by Miramax to turn “Fowl” into a movie. Colfer has convinced Dish that if he had any creative leverage, it would probably be used to woo Miramax into filming on his home turf of Wexford, Ireland. “The town is five miles from where they shot the Normandy beach sequences of ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ and up the road from where they shot battlefield scenes from ‘Braveheart,’ ” he said. Colfer said he’s already been gentle goaded by the local film commission. “When a film comes to Ireland, it changes a town forever,” he said. “People still visit the location of ‘The Quiet Man’ and ‘Ryan’ because they touched so many people.” Colfer’s taken a two year sabbatical from teaching to write an “Artemis Fowl” sequel.