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‘Sunset’ musical heating up

Streisand, Streep, Close are top contenders

DON’T CALL it a comeback. It’s a ‘return.'” That’s what Gloria Swanson insisted, playing out the role of desperate, forgotten star Norma Desmond, in the great 1950 film, “Sunset Boulevard.” The long gestating plan to put the London and Broadway musical version of “Sunset” on the bigscreen has heated up again. Barbra Streisand, Meryl Streep and Glenn Close are the top contenders. (Interestingly, all three were also in the running for the equally dragged-out proceedings surrounding another Andrew Lloyd Webber musical headed to the bigscreen, “Evita.” They were named, along with dark horses such as Liza Minnelli, Ann-Margret and Bernadette Peters. And, of course Patti LuPone, who brilliantly originated “Evita” on stage. In the end, the film role went to Madonna.) But will “Sunset Boulevard” the musical ever see the light of the kliegs? I spoke with a top movie producer the other day, and he dismissed the latest round of interest in the movie. “Oh, please. Forget the musical. It’s not going to happen. The musicals that have had some success recently, like ‘Hairspray’ and ‘Dreamgirls’ are geared toward a younger audience. Nobody in 2007 can relate to the story of a silent screen star — they can’t even relate to the idea of a black-and-white movie. What worked on stage will come off as camp onscreen. Especially if Barbra does it. I say update the Billy Wilder original. Make Norma a washed-up star from the disco era. Cast Halle Berry and Jake Gyllenhaal.” Hmmmm. When I mentioned that Miss Berry was only 41, and Norma was supposed to be 50, my producer friend said, “Shoot her harshly. Tell her to act. What’s the problem?” I love L.A. bigwigs. They are always so sure about … everything.

TONIGHT they’ll be opening “Young Frankenstein” in Seattle. No reviewers allowed just yet, but a big bash after at the Space Needle. The creator, Mel Brooks, the star Roger Bart and producers Laura and Bob Sillerman will be in their glory. We’ll just let it rumble on to Broadway while we wave our flaming torches to welcome the monster.

WHAT WOULD you give to see the Mistress of All She Surveys in the world history of Fame, once again onstage? Well, come December, Elizabeth Taylor will perform in Hollywood, starring in A. R. Gurney’s “Love Letters.” Her co-star will be James Earl Jones. This is to be a one night only event where Miz Liz raises a million dollars for AIDS. “Love Letters” will be Elizabeth’s first acting stint since the ill-conceived 2001 TV movie “These Old Broads.” It will mark the first time she performs on stage since 1983’s “Private Lives.”

(Email Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com)

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