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Spike Lee Tackling the Origins of Viagra for a New Movie Musical

Lee is teaming up again with Stew Stewart and Heidi Rodewald, creators of the Tony-winning musical "Passing Strange."

Spike Lee arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Spike Lee

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Viagra has had a strong place in pop culture since it made its debut in 1998. Former Senator Bob Dole and soccer star Pelé pitched the erectile disfunction drug in ads, while countless shows and movies have used it as fodder for jokes over the last two decades. Now, the little blue pill is inspiring the next Spike Lee Joint: Lee is set to direct a musical take on the origins of the medication. (Via Deadline).

Lee co-wrote the screenplay with Kwame Kwei-Armah, and based it on David Kushner’s Esquire article “All Rise: The Untold Story of The Guys Who Launched Viagra.”

Inspired by Pfizer’s discovery and launch of Viagra, originally intended as a heart-related drug, original songs will be written by Stew Stewart and Heidi Rodewald, creators of the Tony-winning musical “Passing Strange.” Lee directed a filmed version of that stage production that was released in 2009.

Lee’s most recent project was another filmed musical stage production, “David Byrne’s American Utopia,” which was released by HBO last month. He is also working on a movie adaptation of Ron Wimberly’s 2012 graphic novel, “Prince of Cats,” which is a offshoot of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” that focuses on Tybalt, only set in 1980s Brooklyn.

Kwei-Armah is a playwright who in 2018 was made artistic director of the Young Vic Theater in London, where he directed “Twelfth Night” and “Tree.”

Matt Jackson’s Jackson Pictures will produce with Spike Lee’s 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks and Entertainment One.

One of Lee’s previous movies, “Chi-Raq,” incorporated song and dance elements. Here’s the lengthy quote Lee gave to Deadline explaining the Viagra project.

First And Foremost, I Thank Ms. Jacquelyn Shelton Lee. I Thank My Late Mother For As She Would Say Taking “My Narrow,Rusty Behind” Dragging, Kickin’ And Screamin’ To The Movies When I Wuz A Nappy Headed Kid Growing Up In Da Streets Of Da People’s Republic Of Brooklyn. I Did Not Want To See Corny People Singin’ And Dancin’. I Instead Wanted To Play With My Friends On Da Block, Stoop Ball, Stick Ball, Punch Ball, Soft Ball, Basketball, 2 Hand Touch, Tackle Football, Coco Leevio, Johnny On Da Pony, Hot Peas And Butter, Crack Top, Down Da Sewer And Of Course-Booty’s Up. All The Great New York City Street Games That Might Be Sadly Lost Forever. My Father, Bill Lee, Jazz/Folk Bassist,Composer HATED HollyWeird Movies, Henceforth And What Not, Me Being The Eldest Of 5 Children I Became Mommy’s Movie Date. She Was A Cinefile. Thank You Lawdy She Didn’t Listen To My Ongoing Complaints About Musicals. So Finally Going Into My 4th Decade As A Filmmaker I Will Be Directing A DANCIN’,ALL SINGIN’ MUSICAL Spike Lee Joint And I Can’t Wait. My Moms Has Been Waiting TOO!!! And Dats Da Rodgers And Hammerstein Truth, Ruth.

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