Saturday, May 18, 2024

It’s Official: Steven Spielberg is Remaking “West Side Story,” Pro-Forma Casting Call Goes Out for Leads


There’s a place for Steven Spielberg, and apparently it’s on New York’s Upper West Side in the 1950s. A casting call has gone out for a remake of “West Side Story,” written by Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Kushner, author of Spielberg’s terrific “Lincoln” screenplay and, of course, “Angels in America.”

It’s a pro-forma casting call because, in the end, the new “West Side Story” is going to need stars. Big names. And because of the setting and the time we are in, it’s going to need actual Puerto Ricans or Latinos for the parts of characters like Maria, Anita, and Bernardo. There will be no fudging this in 2018. The casting call says in capital letters: MUST BE ABLE TO SPEAK SPANISH.

Of course, our lead, Tony, is a nice Caucasian boy who falls in love with Maria. He’ll be tougher to find because he’s got to be able to sing like crazy, be physically fit, etc. You know someone asked Can Ansel Elgort sing? Every young guy on Broadway is calling his agent or hoping to meet Spielberg at a SAG Q&A for “The Post.”

Spielberg’s not taking any chances trying to remake a classic film. He’s got the producer of the 2009 Broadway revival of “West Side Story,” Kevin McCollum, as a producer on the film. What we don’t know yet is who will be the choreographer? Susan Stroman? She’s pretty busy. This week she’s workshopping a new version of Gershwin’s “Crazy for You” set for the fall. But she’s probably at the top of Spielberg’s list.

New PS: Yes, Ansel can sing. I forgot he released a couple of singles. Here he is on James Corden. I guarantee you he’ll be Tony.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

Read more

In Other News