Columbia Pictures to remake 'My Fair Lady' with CBS Films

MUMBAI: Columbia Pictures has entered into an agreement with CBS Films to do a remake of the classic musical My Fair Lady.

The film will be produced by Duncan Kenworthy and Cameron Mackintosh. The announcement was made by Doug Belgrad
and Matt Tolmach, presidents of Columbia Pictures. CBS Films will be actively involved in the development of the new film.

The new film will use the original songs of the Broadway show, and will not alter its 1912 setting. But Kenworthy and Mackintosh intend where possible to shoot the film on location in the original London settings of Covent Garden, Drury Lane, Tottenham Court Road, Wimpole Street, and Ascot racecourse.

The filmmaking team will also look to adapt Alan Jay Lerner‘s book more fully for the screen by drawing additional material from Pygmalion -- George Bernard Shaw‘s play that served as the source material for the musical -- in order to dramatise as believably as possible for present-day audiences the emotional highs and lows of Eliza Doolittle as she undergoes the ultimate makeover, transforming under the tutelage of Professor Henry Higgins from a Cockney flower girl to a lady.

Belgrad said, "My Fair Lady is not just the quintessential stage musical and classic film, but a fantastic story. We‘re thrilled to have the opportunity to bring it to the screen once again. There is no one alive who knows this material better than Cameron Mackintosh.

"He has staged two revivals of My Fair Lady, the first in 1979 directed by Alan Jay Lerner himself, and the second the award-winning adaptation that‘s now touring the United States. He and Duncan Kenworthy have already set out on the long journey of bringing a new version to the screen and we feel very lucky to be a part of it.

"This update will preserve the magic of the musical while fleshing out the characters and bringing 1912 London to life in an authentic and exciting way for contemporary audiences."

Mackintosh says, "My Fair Lady‘s extraordinary tale of a man turning a flower girl into a lady, and then falling for her, combines one of the most powerful narratives in world literature with some of the wittiest and most winning songs ever written for the stage.

"People everywhere will fall in love again with Lerner and Loewe‘s miraculous songs set in a big, gorgeous film with contemporary stars, a more realistically achieved vision of Edwardian London, and a touch more Pygmalion at the heart of this powerfully emotional story of a girl‘s transformation. The classic story of a flower girl transformed into an instant sensation couldn‘t be more timely in a contemporary world obsessed with overnight celebrity."

Kenworthy said, "When George Cukor shot his wonderful film entirely on sets inside Warner‘s Burbank soundstages, Lerner and Loewe‘s smash hit musical had been running on Broadway for seven years, and the film was appropriately reverential and inevitably theatrical.

"With 40 years of hindsight, we‘re confident that by setting these wonderful characters and brilliant songs in a more realistic context, and by exploring Eliza‘s emotional journey more fully, we will honor both Shaw and Lerner at the same time as engaging and entertaining contemporary audiences the world over. The casting of Eliza is crucial, and we are currently in discussion with a major international star to play the role."

The musical in 1956 starred Julie Andrews, rocketing her to stardom, and won the Tony Award for Best Musical. It was then adapted for the screen in 1963, directed by George Cukor, with Audrey Hepburn as Eliza and Rex Harrison as Higgins. The film won eight Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor.

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