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‘Jeannie’ wish is B’way; Paltrow plays London

THE CLASSIC SIDNEY SHELDON-CREATED series “I Dream of Jeannie” is being conjured up as a stage musical eyeing a Broadway run.

Sheldon has granted the rights to producer Scott Steindorff and Stone Village Prods., with Sheldon exec producing the musical with Michael Viner and Deborah Raffin. Steindorff had the idea of the transformation of the sitcom into a musical; Viner, who’s exec producing a movie version of “Jeannie” with Sheldon at Columbia, got the creator aboard.

The Screen Gems series starred Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman and ran on NBC from 1965 to 1970.

Sheldon still marvels that the series has endured, given that Screen Gems had no faith in it. “That was the year every show on the air went to color, except for one, and I found out that Screen Gems wasn’t willing to pay for color because it was an extra $300 a show,” said Sheldon. “I told them I’d cover the difference and they said don’t waste your money. But the premise was timeless, and Barbara was the dream of every guy who watched the show. It also came at a time that the networks weren’t liberal about what they showed, and the network panicked when they realized they’d bought a show with a beautiful half-naked woman who moves in with a bachelor and says, `What can I do for you?’ I got a 22-page memo, with specific guidelines of what we couldn’t do.”

Steindorff and Viner are also producing the Howard Hughes biopic being developed at Castle Rock by “Memento” director Christopher Nolan and Jim Carrey. Film is based on the Richard Hack-penned New Millennium book “The Private Diaries, Letters and Memos.”

Steindorff’s first credit came writing the Tommy Tune version of “EFX” at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Steindorff is in talks with a book writer. Sheldon won’t do it, even though he has penned seven shows, including “Alice in Arms,” the Broadway debut of Kirk Douglas in 1944, and the Tony-winning 1959 Gwen Verdon-starrer “The Redhead.”

“SHAKESPEARE” TITANS REUNITED: Oscar-winning “Shakespeare in Love” star Gwyneth Paltrow and director John Madden are reuniting, in a venue with which the Bard would feel most comfortable. Paltrow and Madden will pair in a production of the Tony-winning play “Proof” that will open at London’s Donmar Warehouse in June, a high profile end to the last season of artistic director Sam Mendes. Paltrow, who has done Williamstown Theater Festival perfs of plays from “As You Like It” to “The Seagull,” will topline “Proof” for a six-week run that will begin in mid-May. After a breakneck pre-strike pace, Paltrow has been catching her breath, but still has the Neil LaBute-directed “Possession” coming from USA Films on June 7, and the Bruno Baretto-directed “View from the Top” coming from Miramax in August.

“MAC” GETTING GUEST ATTACK: The surprise success of freshman Fox sitcom “The Bernie Mac Show” and its reality premise has made it a magnet for guest stars. Not long after the series got picked up for the rest of the season, guest stints have been turned in by gridiron great Marcus Allen, Sugar Ray Leonard, Halle Berry and Carl Reiner, who plays Mac’s neighbor in an episode shot Wednesday, and might become a recurring character. Exec producer and creator Larry Wilmore said the show will continue to work in stars who play themselves, which is how Berry was employed. “Bernie says during a radio interview that if his wife ever gave him a free pass with a woman, he’d choose Halle, and she appears in a dream sequence that was my idea, but which Bernie went along with gladly,” said Wilmore. There will be more cameo opportunities when the show tapes at Staples Center for a Lakers game, and will wrap the season with two episodes done in Chicago.

FROM “WOLF” TO “CRADLE”: Hot from the surprise success of “Brotherhood of the Wolf,” Mark Dacascos is negotiating to join DMX and Jet Li in “Cradle to the Grave,” the Joel Silver-produced Warner Bros. actioner directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak. Dacascos, who was last seen in Stanley Tong’s “China Strike Force” and the syndicated series “The Crow,” will play an international criminal who kidnaps the daughter of the crime lord (DMX) as part of a global diamond heist. That sets in motion an unlikely alliance between the crime lord and a government agent (Li) to get back the kid and thwart a plan for mass destruction.

“SUGAR” TALE: RGH/Lions Share Pictures has acquired rights to “Sugar Wars,” a film based on the life of 91-year-old Angelo Lonardo, a founding father of the Mafia, and one of the highest ranking crime figures to go the turncoat route. His turning was hailed by then-prosecutor Rudy Giuliani as a turning point in the war against organized crime. RGH/Lions Share co-CEOs Billy Blake and Eric Louzil made a rights deal with Lonardo’s nephew Frank Lonardo, and they’ve got scribe Paul Murray (“Very Mean Men”) ready to script a pic focusing on the Lonardo family battle with the Porello family over control of corn sugar used to cook bootleg whiskey during the prohibition. It was an epic Romeo and Juliet story, given that the families were tight in Sicily, had numerous intermarriages, but clashed violently in Cleveland. RGH/Lions Share is elevating the level of its products, helped by incoming veep of development and co-exec producer Gloria Morrison, a vet of features and MOWs. The producer is also readying a feature adaptation of the Ray Cooney play “Funny Money,” which was scripted by Harry Basil and Leslie Greif, with the latter making his directorial debut. Production begins in March.

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