The Great Debaters and Brothers in Arms: According to Variety, New Line Cinema has reunited the Tony Award-winning "Hairspray" team to bring the Broadway musical to the bigscreen.

Director Jack O'Brien and choreographer Jerry Mitchell will make their feature helming bows on the project, joining screenwriters Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan and lyricists Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.

O'Brien and Mitchell will meet with the writers next month to begin work on the script. New Line hopes to put the film into production in time for a 2006 release.

Like the 1988 John Waters cult movie that inspired it, the feature musical will center on the zaftig Tracy Turnblad as she graduates from outsider to celebrity trendsetter. Along the way, she dances on "The Corny Collins Show," wins the heart of hunk Link Larkin and barrels down barriers for racial integration on Baltimore TV.

"Hairspray" made its Broadway debut Aug. 15, 2002. It won nine Tony Awards, including musical, actor, actress, directing, book and score, and has played 882 perfs to date.

Brian B.