Last night Variety‘s Michael Fleming reported that the Weinstein Co. “has acquired worldwide film rights to the Pulitzer Prize and Tony-winning play August: Osage County and will produce a feature adaptation. TWC co-chairman Harvey Weinstein will join Jean Doumanian and Steve Traxler as producers of the pic, with playwright Tracy Letts doing the adaptation.”
Deanna Dunagan (r.) as Violet Weston, the family matriarch; Amy Morton (l.) as her daughter, and Rondi Reed (center) as Violet’s sister.
Except seven and a half months ago I wrote that “producer Jean Doumanian is partnering with the Weinstein Co. to produce a film version of Tracy Letts‘ masterful August: Osage County, which N.Y. Times critic Charles Isherwood called ‘the most exciting new American play Broadway has seen in years’ in his 12.5.07 review.”
So what’s new here? Steve Traxler is part of the deal, and the film will be out sometime in ’11 — three years hence. Are they sure they don’t need four or five? Don’t want to rush things. Haste makes waste.
Cut to the chase already and tell us if Harvey and Jean are signing Meryl Streep to play the chain-smoking mother from hell Violet Weston or if they intend to stay with Deanna Dunagan, who killed in the stage version.
“As always, a Broadway hit is one equation and a satisfying hit movie is another. The stage-to-cinema process is always about rethinking, reshuffling, compressing, diluting and, in one way or another, downgrading to some extent,” I wrote last March. “A need for a broader audience = the need to make a play more accessible to Average Joes = problems from the viewpoint of Broadway purists.
“The big questions are (a) will the movie version hold to the play’s three-hour length (there will certainly be pressure to trim it down at least somewhat, perhaps as much as a third), (b) will they try to movie-ize it (visually open it up, etc.) or stick to the pure theatrical scheme of everything happening in the Weston family’s two-story home, and (c) who will Doumanian-Weinstein get to direct…Mike Nichols?
“Doumanian and Traxler, who are lead producers on the Broadway production with Jeffrey Richards and Jerry Frankel, made a deal with Letts during the summer to work on a script,” Fleming reports. “Doumanian said she hopes to have a Letts-penned screenplay within two or three months.
“Weinstein is an investor in the stage play, which begins an eight-week engagement Nov. 21 at London’s National Theater. A national tour starts in the summer.”