I’ve been told 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.
Deanna Dunagan (r.) as Violet Weston, the family matriarch; Amy Morton (l.) as her daughter, and Rondi Reed (center) as Violet’s sister.
As always, a Broadway hit (Osage County is certain to triumph at the ’08 Tony Awards in June) 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. 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, (c) who will Doumanian-Weinstein get to direct…Mike Nichols?, and (d) which middle-aged screen actress will play the key role of Violet Weston (i.e., “an evil mom to end them all”), presuming that Deanna Dunagan, whose on-stage performance is said to be legendary, will be shunted aside in favor of a Meryl Streep-level actress with a bit more in the way of marquee power.