Bill Condon will direct the movie version of “Dreamgirls,” the thinly veiled story of the rise of Diana Ross and the Supremes during the formative years of Motown Records.
The hit Broadway musical about a trio of young black female singers who strive to cross over to the white-dominated pop charts in the early ’60s bowed in 1981.
Condon, who won an Oscar for his “Gods and Monsters” screenplay and was Oscar-nominated for his screenplay for “Chicago,” has written the first draft of the script.
He has committed to making “Dreamgirls” his directorial follow-up to “Kinsey.” Production will begin in late summer or early fall.
Because David Geffen controls screen rights and labored for many years to mount the film, DreamWorks is taking the creative lead on the film. Warner Bros., which nearly made the movie in 1999, will be invited to co-finance. Pic will be produced by Laurence Mark. Geffen, who now oversees the live-action division of DreamWorks, has stepped out of a producing role on the picture.
“David Geffen produced the stage musical and has been guarding the integrity of this material ever since,” Mark said. “Nobody has believed in this project more fervently over the years than David, and Bill and I are thrilled that he is entrusting it to us. We plan for him to be significantly involved in every step of this movie.”
Condon said he bought a $5 ticket for the musical’s opening night and never forgot it.
“There are few musicals that should be turned into movies, and this is one of them, because there is such a great central idea,” Condon said. “It’s about the price you pay for crossover success in the music business.
“I feel like ‘Chicago’ was my university education on how to write the screenplay for a musical, and I’m excited at the chance to take it to the next level.”
The film will retain Tom Eyen’s book and lyrics and Henry Krieger’s music.
Director-choreographer Michael Bennett, whose work was considered groundbreaking at the time, died in 1987.
Mark and Condon said they expect to cast a star in the role of Curtis Taylor Jr., the Svengali who discovers singing group the Dreams and guides them to fame. They’ll likely tap the rich crop of young singers for at least one member of the Dreams trio, but said they are open to creating a star, as the original musical did with Jennifer Holliday, who won a Tony for her show-stopping turn as Effie Melody White.