Harvey Weinstein wanted all that jazz to himself when adapting the “Chicago” musical into an Oscar-winning film.
Goldie Hawn revealed during a Variety cover story that almost 15 years before Miramax’s “Chicago” won Best Picture in 2003, another adaptation was in the works starring herself and Madonna. Hawn was also set to produce. The original script was penned by Larry Gelbart and produced by Broadway veteran Marty Richards.
Weinstein announced in 1997, “It goes without saying that Roxie and Velma are two of the greatest roles ever written for musical actresses, and with Goldie, Madonna and the great Marty Richards on board, this promises to be one heck of a ride.”
Yet Weinstein later canceled the project and opted to go younger with the two female leads, according to Hawn.
“Harvey basically undermined me and Madonna,” Hawn said, noting that producer Weinstein allegedly commissioned a new script in which Hawn’s character was 23 years old. Hawn was in her 50s at the time.
“I said, ‘Don’t fuck with me. Because I know just what you’re doing. We’ve made a deal,'” Hawn recalled.
Weinstein eventually paid Hawn for her work on the project. “You stand up to a bully. And sometimes, you win,” she shared. “I said to him afterwards, ‘You know what the best part of you paying me is? Not the money. You restored my faith in dignity and ethics.’ Little did I know…”
Weinstein was later uncovered during the #MeToo movement to have sexually assaulted and raped numerous women throughout his career.
The former Miramax executive is currently in jail serving subsequent decades-long terms. Weinstein told Variety from prison, “Acting roles were always chosen based on what was best for the project, artistically and financially. We felt we did the best we could on ‘Chicago and I’m proud of it, and I am so elated that Goldie’s experience was a positive one, and that she has the fortitude to say that in this environment. I would simply say, ‘thank you.'”
As for Madonna’s reaction to the botched “Chicago” iteration, Hawn said, “I really don’t know how she felt about it. You know, she just went with the tide.”
“Chicago” eventually starred Renée Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones, and went on to win six Academy Awards including Best Picture in 2003.