Simon’s ‘Goodbye’ guy

Playwright will script, exec produce TV version

Richard Benjamin has been tapped to direct TNT’s upcoming remake of Neil Simon’s “The Goodbye Girl.”

Thesp-helmer has been a frequent Simon collaborator, getting his legit start in 1964 in Simon’s “Barefoot in the Park” and starring in the scribe’s classic pic “The Sunshine Boys.” He also directed Simon’s Showtime telepic “Laughter on the 23rd Floor.”

“It’s an amazing thing to be working every day with someone who gave you your start so long ago,” Benjamin said, noting he and Simon first began discussing a “Goodbye Girl” remake during the production of “Laughter on the 23rd Floor.”

Committing to the project didn’t take long, Benjamin said.

“If Neil Simon calls you and asks you to do something, you do it,” he said.

Working on ‘Marci’

Benjamin is finishing up the Par feature “Marci X,” which stars Lisa Kudrow and Damon Wayans. Benjamin’s other feature directing credits include “Mrs. Winterbourne,” “Mermaids” and “My Favorite Year.”

Simon is writing and exec producing the new take on his “Girl,” with Ron Ziskin and Dave Collins (“Stealing Sinatra”) on board as exec producers and Don Safran co-exec producing (Daily Variety, Oct. 29). Pic is a co-prod between Warner Bros. TV and TNT.

Patricia Heaton and Jeff Daniels star in the new “Girl,” which will remain a tale of a woebegone divorcee who shares her apartment with an aspiring actor. Marsha Mason and Richard Dreyfuss originally played the parts.

Lensing on “Girl” begins June 2 in New York and Vancouver.

(Jill Feiwell contributed to this report.)

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