Hairspray: New Line Cinema has signed Craig Zadan and Neil Meron's Storyline Entertainment to produce its upcoming film adaptation of the Broadway musical hit "Hairspray."

Based on the Broadway version of John Waters original cult classic film -- which was first released by New Line in 1988 -- "Hairspray" is being directed by Jack O'Brien and Jerry Mitchell. "Hairspray" opened at the Neil Simon Theater on Broadway in 2002 and was nominated for 11 Tony Awards, winning eight including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book and Best Director.

"After 'Chicago,'" Zadan said, "Neil Meron and I were hoping to produce a new musical that would have great integrity and quality and appeal to a large audience. We believe 'Hairspray' is that show. We are very excited that the distinguished creative team and the executives at New Line chose to invite us to join them in bringing the award-winning musical version of 'Hairspray' to the big screen."

In addition to O'Brien and Mitchell, the award-winning authors behind the Broadway show will all be involved in this film version. Marc Shaiman (music and co-lyricist) will serve as music supervisor, composing the score for the film as well as producing its songs. Co-lyricists Scott Wittman and Shaiman will also be the film's executive producers. The play's book writers, Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan, are set to adapt the screenplay. Mitchell will also serve as the film's choreographer.

New Line co-chairmen and co-CEO's Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne will play an active role in the project's development along with production president Toby Emmerich, senior vp Mark Kaufman and creative executive Michael Disco, who will oversee the film's day-to-day production.

"It's been nearly 20 years since we first introduced 'Hairspray' to the world and at that time we never could have imagined it evolving into the franchise it has become today," Shaye and Lynne said. "To take a film like this and adapt it into a hit Broadway production, and then bring that musical version back into movie theaters is a first, and we are excited to have Craig and Neil on board to help make it happen."

Emmerich added, "Craig and Neil are two of the few producers who understand the lost art of making a Hollywood musical. Their track record in film and television speaks for itself."

Zadan and Meron, widely recognized for reinvigorating the movie musical, previously produced the multiple award-winning "Gypsy" starring Bette Midler, Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella" starring Whitney Houston and Brandy, "Annie" starring Kathy Bates, and "The Music Man" starring Matthew Broderick.

Zadan's first feature as a film producer was the Oscar-nominated hit "Footloose" starring Kevin Bacon. Zadan and Meron are also producing the upcoming feature films "American Darlings" starring Nicole Kidman, "Fahrenheit 451" directed by Frank Darabont, a contemporary version of "Damn Yankees," and the comedy "Simon Says" starring Sean Hayes.

Their production of "Chicago," winner of the Oscar as Best Picture of the Year, is the first musical to win the Academy Award in that category in 34 years and the highest-grossing movie in the history of Miramax Films.

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.