It appears that Hollywood producer Bobby Geisler has paired with Hollywood heavyweight Mike Medavoy to create a new film version of the George and Ira Gershwin classic Porgy and Bess.
As reported by Variety, Geisler and Medavoy are working in conjunction with the Gershwin family as well as the estate of lyricist DuBose Heyward to create the project. Gershwin shared with Variety that he’s optimistic that the pair will be able to produce a fresh take on the 1935 work. He elaborated by saying, “We get approached a lot with ideas that aren’t very good but Mike has a great track record. We’re confident that he’s going to be able to find the right director and writer. And we already have the music.”
Porgy and Bess is the tale of African-American life in the Charleston section of Catfish Row. It tells the story of Bess and the challenges she faces to free herself from her sordid past; a past which includes a violent ex-lover named Cameron and a drug dealer named Sportin’ Life. When she encounters Porgy, a disabled beggar, it seems that he is the only one who can rescue her from this past.
Last year, the most recent revival of the musical on Broadway won a Tony Award. It starred Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis in the title roles. That project’s success makes it all the more important for this rendition of the production to be just as good, if not better. Geisler shared in a statement, “[The film] will be fresh, accessible, and engaging. It will be something that young people will enjoy.” He also went on to discuss his excitement to be a part of the project saying, “I needed to do something new and spectacular, and Porgy and Bess was Number 1 on my list.”
A screenwriter for the show has already been selected in the person of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage. “How perfect is it that an intense young black woman should write the screenplay for Porgy and Bess?” Geisler said. When questioned about who will play the title role of Bess, Geisler responded, “The obvious choices would be Beyoncé or Jennifer Hudson. [However], once the screenplay is written, a director will be chosen and a cast assembled.”
Due to the nature of the project it is thought that it won’t be released until sometime in 2017.