There was a movie of “Fiddler on Roof,” the musical, back in 1971 as it ended its seven year run on Broadway. Norman Jewison directed it, Chaim Topol starred as Tevye. The movie holds up nicely.
But who cares? It’s time for a remake. Thomas Kail, director of “Hamilton” on Broadway and “Fosse/Verdon” on TV, will direct. Producers include Dan Jinks, Kail, and Aaron Harnick, the 51 year old grandson of 96 year old Sheldon Harnick, who wrote the Tony award winning book for “Fiddler.” (Aaron’s mother is the great actress Barbara Barrie.)
The Jewison movie was not a big hit when it came out, but it grew in popularity over the years. A new version is not a bad idea, but it will depend on fealty to the source material, and who will be cast in the major roles. There have been two recent revivals on and off Broadway in recent years. The Broadway one starred Danny Burstein, who was nominated for a Tony and would be excellent in the new film as Tevye. The off Broadway version was directed by Joel Grey, and performed Yiddish to much acclaim. If Kail could figure out a way to combine those two efforts, it would be ideal.
The great stage Tevyes of the past were Zero Mostel, who originated the role, and Herschel Bernardi, whose son, Michael Bernardi, was in the revival not as Tevye but stepped in as an understudy.
Could Kail go with Lin Manuel Miranda, the creator of “Hamilton,” as Tevye? Why not? He’d be great.
MGM will make the new movie. My only concern is that turns out like “Home for Purim,” the movie that was supposed to be made in Christopher Guest’s hilarious comedy, “For Your Consideration.” Producers arrive on set and proclaim the movie “too Jewish.” They change the title and the holiday (to Thanksgiving). In Hollywood, you could see a very sanitized PC new “Fiddler” in which no one is Jewish, Anatevka is suddenly a small town in Iowa, and Tevye IS a rich man, named Teddy. We’ll see what happens.