‘Music’ doc silenced

A&E project stalls without Andrews footage

This article was corrected on April 23, 2003.

NEW YORK — A two-hour documentary for A&E on the lives of the seven actors who played the von Trapp children in “The Sound of Music” is in jeopardy.

That’s the word from Michael McLean, a talent manager who served as one of the casting directors on “Sound of Music.” He said that the pic’s star Julie Andrews, through her manager Steve Sauer, has refused to allow Digital Ranch, the producer of the docu, to use her likeness, either in clips or stills from the 1965 theatrical or in-home movies shot during the production by the parents of some of the child actors.

Sauer didn’t return phone calls, but McLean said Sauer told him that Andrews plans to make a 40th anniversary special in 2005 tied to the movie and that the A&E docu could seriously detract from broadcast network interest in her project.

An A&E spokesman confirmed that the network was eager to buy the Digital Ranch docu but would make no move until the producers get the rights to employ Andrews’ image.

McLean said he became involved in the docu a few years ago through Veronica Cartwright, who’s one of his clients. Cartwright’s sister Angela played Brigitta von Trapp in the movie.

“Over many years, as 20th Century Fox kept re-releasing the picture in video and DVD, the studio asked the actors to do publicity without really compensating them,” McLean said.

Witnessing the never-ending popularity of “Sound of Music,” Angela Cartwright and Heather Menzies, another actor from the movie developed the idea for a docu that would focus on how the picture influenced the lives of the seven actors. Lots of home movie footage exists, McLean said, as well as previously recorded interviews with Saul Chaplin, the producer, and the choreographers Marc Breaux and Dee Dee Wood.

On the strength of a demo tape that Digital Ranch put together, A&E said it was ready to put up the production cost, according to McLean. And the estate of the Richard Rogers, the composer, and Oscar Hammerstein, the lyricist, “told us they’d do anything they could to support it,” McLean said.

But the project is languishing. As McLean puts it, “Without clips of Julie Andrews, we’re dead in the water.”

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