In a Daily Beast interview with Tim Teeman, playwright Tony Kushner confirms that Steven Spielberg really is planning a big-screen remake of West Side Story, and that Kushner is working on the screenplay.
The story will still be set in Manhattan’s Upper West Side in the ’50s, he said, and Leonard Bernstein‘s classic score won’t be touched. “I’m interested that we see love at first sight, as opposed to lust,” Kusher says of his version. “By the time they’re singing ‘Maria’ and ‘Tonight,’ things are at a much deeper plane than just two horny kids.”
Kushner is a wonderful writer, but I tremble with dread at what Spielberg will do with this sad Romeo and Juliet-inspired tale.
From a friend: There was a high profile staging of West Side Story at the Hollywood Bowl last year. Huge live orchestra, rising young singers and stars. Everyone was there. We were in a box surrounded by the heads of every studio and network. Movies stars all around. Robert de Niro in front of us. Even Michael Stipe nearby. My guest said ‘wow, I’ve heard there’s a fierce competition to remake this in town. Haven’t seen a turnout like this in a while.”
Kushner also told Teeman he’s writing a play abut Donald Trump, which will be set two years before the election.
“[Trump] is the kind of person, as a writer, I tend to avoid as I think he is borderline psychotic,” Kushner explained. “I definitely think that incoherence lends itself well to drama, but he really is very boring. It’s terrifying because he has all the power, but without the mental faculties he ought to have. I think he is seriously mentally ill, and the fact that he is in the White House is very frightening.
“He may do things that do not surprise us. We can imagine the worst he can do—mishandle things so much that we end up in a nuclear war. We know that he will never reveal a depth of humanity, because he’s been around for decades and there has never been a sign of it.
“He just runs round and round in his grim little well saying the same things over and over again. Occasionally he will write or say something funny like ‘covfefe,’ but the last five months have been astonishingly one-note and flat. He is precisely the kind of person who you would not want to be stuck next to at a party. You can’t get away from how grotesque he is. Reagan was really disgusting too, but not as venal.”
“The main problem is how our country can give such power to a madman and crazy person…how a country commits political suicide…and I don’t think analogies to Hitler are misplaced in that regard.
“For 40 years the Republican Party has said that government is evil and greed is good, that history is of no interest, and courted white supremacy. The result of the election was the expression of what they want, and it showed a majority of white evangelicals did not care about the behavior of a president that doesn’t seem that Christian. Donald Trump is the antithesis of everything Jesus preached in the Sermon on the Mount.”
Because — hello? — racial animus and resentment trumped their allegedly Christian convictions.