Simon Cowell may soon have a new venue to go head-to-head with his longtime rival, American Idol creator Simon Fuller: Both are planning musicals for London’s West End. Cowell wants to build a stage show around his global franchise X Factor. Cowell has approached Brit comedian Harry Hill to write the book and comedy music producer Steve Brown — who has worked with UK X Factor finalist Rebecca Ferguson — to come up with musical ideas. Cowell’s production company Syco tells me that it’s still in “very early discussions” about the show. Hill fronts popular ITV comedy TV Burp. Its latest season starts airing soon — right before the current UK run of The X Factor. The comedian pokes fun at clips of the previous week’s TV shows, often singling out Cowell’s music contest. Brown wrote the music for TV Burp and has also written for Cowell’s regular UK TV presenters Ant’n’Dec, so it’s all very much in the family.
Fuller — who is suing for an executive producer credit on the U.S. version of X Factor — is a step ahead with his planned West End stage musical Viva Forever, based on the songs of his pop group the Spice Girls. Producer Judy Craymer, who dreamed up the worldwide Mamma Mia! phenomenon, begins workshops next month and hopes to open Viva Forever by March 2013. The show promises “a glimpse of the underbelly of TV talent shows.” Brit TV comedian Jennifer Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous) has written the book. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures is negotiating to turn the Green Day-fueled Broadway musical American Idiot into a feature film. Dustin Lance Black, the Oscar-winning Milk scribe, is in talks to write the script, and Michael Mayer will direct. Mayer helmed the stage run of the musical, which is closing on Broadway April 24 and launching a tour in the fall. Black most recently scripted J. Edgar, the Clint Eastwood film that stars Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover.
The musical, which uses the songs of the punk band’s seminal 2004 album to tell the coming-of-age story of three small-town guys, was optioned before its opening last spring by Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman. They previously turned the stage hit Mamma Mia! into a Universal film. It is expected that Green Day lead singer/songwriter Billie Joe Armstrong will be courted to play the role of the drug dealer St. Jimmy. Each time he did a stint in the role on Broadway, the grosses rose considerably at the St. James Theatre. The band was actively involved in the formation of the musical. Read More »
Jennifer Saunders, creator of TV comedy Absolutely Fabulous, started writing the book for stage show Viva Forever yesterday. Producer Judy Craymer is hoping this new Spice Girls musical, due to open in London’s West End 2012, will repeat the success … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The smash hit stage musical Wicked is taking its first formative steps toward the movie screen. I’m told the musical’s producer Marc Platt, book writer Winnie Holzman, and songwriter Stephen Schwartz have begun meeting with filmmakers. Insiders confirm that JJ … Read More »