Every director wants to make a musical at some point in their lives — it’s one of the great challenges available in the profession, and helmers from Steven Spielberg to Edgar Wright have all expressed an interest in the genre at some stage and now it looks like one more big-name director is set to throw his bowler hat into the ring, albeit in a roundabout way.
The Hollywood Reporter brings news that Bryan Singer, director of “The Usual Suspects” and “X-Men,” is currently attached to helm an adaptation of the yet-to-be-published biography “Bye, Bye, Life: The Loves and Death of Bob Fosse” from film historian Sam Wasson, which has been optioned by HBO Films and Sony Television. Fosse, was, of course, one of the great director/choreographers in the history of the genre, helming classics like “Sweet Charity” and “Cabaret,” as well as non-musical pictures like “Lenny” and “Star 80.”
It’s very early in the process on this one; there’s no writer on board yet, and Singer will be tied up on the Warner Bros tentpole “Jack The Giant Killer” until well into 2012, but the director will be teaming with Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, who’ve had substantial success in the musical genre in recent years with “Chicago” and “Hairspray” — the pair will be serving as executive producers on the project. It seems unlikely that the project will be a full-flung musical, however, although given the subject matter, it’s likely to include a veritable ton of musical elements.
We can’t help but feel that Singer’s project feels a little redundant, however, considering that Fosse himself took an thinly-veiled autobiographical look at his own life in arguably his best film, “All That Jazz” (the title of the book refers to the extraordinary closing number of Fosse’s film). While we’re sure Wasson’s book has unearthed new details, Singer will have to do a remarkable job, or take a wildly different approach, in order to make his as-yet-untitled project stand out against Fosse’s classic, deeply personal film, and we certainly don’t envy the actor who has to step into Roy Scheider‘s shoes.
Still, it’s yet another coup for HBO, who has an extraordinary collection of talent in their stable, with Martin Scorsese, Michael Mann, David Fincher, Alexander Payne, Todd Haynes and Derek Cianfrance all involved in projects in different stages of development. And it’s good to see Singer involved in something a little smaller-scale; we’re fans of the director, but he’s been working exclusively in the studio tentpole world for a decade now, and shaking things up a little can only help.