Well, that took a while to get locked. It was nearly a year ago that talk first cropped up about Universal and Barbra Streisand coming together for a new adaptation of the Broadway musical “Gypsy.” Since then, word had grown quiet, and we presume that was due to trying to get Arthur Laurents, the writer of the musical, to finally agree to this endeavor after he initially kiboshed the idea, citing his dissatisfaction with the 1962 movie version starring Rosalind Russell. Well, he passed away last May, and we imagine that helped clear the path to making this official.
Universal has announced today that the project is going forward, and moreover, they’ve got a hot scribe to help bring it to the big screen. Oscar- and Emmy-winning writer Julian Fellowes (“Downton Abbey,” “Gosford Park“) will pen the screenplay. Co-written by Stephen Sondheim, “Gypsy” has been a powerhouse on Broadway, winning numerous Tony Awards in various incarnations, and as mentioned above, was made into a feature film and a 1993 TV movie starring Bette Midler. The musical is a showbiz tale about a driven mother who wants to turn her daughters into stage stars; Streisand will take on the lead role of Momma Rose.
While Universal has been dumping risky projects for the past little while, they seem to have taken a shine to musicals. They’ve got “Les Miserables” coming later this year from Tom Hooper (who at one time was eyeing this project), and we’d wager they’ll take a similar approach here, eyeballing big name stars for the supporting roles. So young Hollywood, if you missed out on ‘Les Mis’ you’ll probably have another shot here. [Deadline]