Wednesday, April 24, 2024

West Side Story Real Life Rumble Pits Steven Spielberg Movie Remake vs. Scott Rudin Broadway Revival


The Jets and the Sharks are about to rumble again on the West Side– west of Broadway.

That’s because yesterday peripatetic Broadway producer Scott Rudin announced a revival of “West Side Story” — the famed Leonard Bernstein-Stephen Sondheim-Arthur Laurents 1957 masterpiece–for December 2019. Ivan Hove is directing.

That’s nice. We just had a really great “West Side Story” revival from 2009 to 2011. It’s not like we were lacking in Jets or Sharks.

Rudin’s announcement comes as everyone in the biz knows that Steven Spielberg is in pre-production with a new movie version of “West Side Story,” the first ever remake. Tony Kushner has written the screenplay. Open casting calls have taken place. Spielberg is on the fast track. If he starts shooting this fall, his movie could open in…December 2019.

Somewhere, there’s a place for all of this. I just don’t know where.

Smartly, Spielberg has as his co-producer Kevin McCollum, who co-produced the 2009 Broadway revival. Of course, the movie could wait to be unveiled until December 2020. By then, the Rudin version could be on its way out on Broadway.The last iteration barely made it two years– and Laurents was still alive, which was the PR hook.

Rudin counts on these revivals (he just did “Hello, Dolly!” and “Carousel”) as his Broadway bread and butter. He stocks them with stars to pull in high paying ticket holders. But “Carousel” didn’t win the Tony. “Dolly!” only worked when Bette Midler was in it. And “West Side Story” is usually cast live with unknowns because they have to be young and athletic.

So who will win, Spielberg or Rudin? And this maybe a little too much “West Side Story” all at once? I guess we’ll find out.


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.

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