John Travolta and Queen Latifah have signed on to star in New Line Cinema's upcoming feature film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical Hairspray, it was announced today by Toby Emmerich, New Line's President of Production.
Travolta will play Edna Turnblad and Queen Latifah will play Motormouth Maybelle in the film, which is being directed by Adam Shankman (The Pacifier, Bringing Down the House) and produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, for their Zadan/Meron Productions, who previously executive produced the Golden Globe and Academy Award-winning Best Picture Chicago. A nationwide casting search is currently under way to find a newcomer to play the lead role of Tracy Turnblad in the film, with production on Hairspray scheduled to begin this Fall for a potential Summer 2007 release.
"From cult classic film to hit Broadway musical to major motion picture, Hairspray is a true New Line franchise," commented Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne, New Line Co-Chairmen and Co-CEOs. "John and Queen Latifah will bring new sensibilities to the characters of Edna Turnblad and Motormouth Maybelle, and introduce this innovative musical comedy to new audiences."
Zadan and Meron said: "It's long been a desire of ours to work with John Travolta and to have the opportunity to produce his return to movie musicals after three decades...it's a dream come true. And having worked so successfully with Queen Latifah on Chicago, we were looking for the perfect vehicle to re-team...Hairspray presented us with a wonderful opportunity to collaborate once again with our multi-talented friend."
Hairspray is originally based on the 1988 John Waters comedy about star-struck teenagers on a local Baltimore dance show. The new version of the film will be based on New Line's hit Broadway adaptation of the film which debuted in 2002, and went on to win eight Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book and Best Director.
Marc Shaiman (Sleepless in Seattle) and Scott Wittman will contribute new songs to their existing Tony Award winning score. Shaiman will also serve as the film's music supervisor and will compose the music score for the film as well as produce its songs. Wittman and Shaiman will also serve as executive producers on the film. The new screenplay for Hairspray is written by Leslie Dixon (Freaky Friday, Outrageous Fortune).
Emmerich is overseeing the project along with New Line's Executive VP of Production Mark Kaufman, and Creative Executives Michael Disco and Daryl Freimark.
Travolta burst into the dance musical world thirty years ago with Saturday Night Fever and packed a one-two punch the following year with the release of Grease, the most successful movie musical of all time. Travolta was nominated for Oscars for Fever and Pulp Fiction. He is represented by the William Morris Agency and attorneys Mike Ossi and Howard Butler.
Hairspray reunites Latifah with producers Zadan and Meron (she earned an Oscar and Golden Globe nomination for her work in Chicago) and director Shankman (she starred in his blockbuster Bringing Down The House). Latifah is also represented by the William Morris Agency.