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'Grey Gardens' & 'The Vow' Helmer Michael Sucsy To Direct 'Romeo & Juliet' Spinoff 'Rosaline'

by Kevin Jagernauth
July 9, 2011 2:53 AM
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William Shakespeare’s iconic tale “Romeo and Juliet” has probably been brought to screen more than any other story. There is George Cukor’s 1936 production that won four Academy Awards, Franco Zeffirelli’s adaptation which earned two Academy Awards, Renato Castellani’s 1954 version and Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 “Romeo+Juliet” (starring Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio) with its MTV Generation-targeting soundtrack. Of course, let's not forget the Hailee Steinfeld vehicle that will begin filming this summer. The premise of the story has also been successfully and widely adapted for other television and film productions such as Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins’ 1961 film “West Side Story” about New York gangs, John Madden’s 1998 critically acclaimed “Shakespeare in Love” and Disney’s television soap “High School Musical” to name but a few. So it's high time that another production joined the club, this time with a fresh outlook, and now Emmy-winning film director, screenwriter, and producer Michael Sucsy has signed a deal to direct Fox 2000’s “Rosaline,” an updated version of William Shakespeare’s classic tragedy.

Shawn Levy’s 21 Laps Entertainment ( "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian," "Date Night," and the upcoming robot boxing drama "Reel Steel") is producing the film, with Fox 2000 optioning the rights to the book lit is to be based on, Rebecca Serles’ yet-to-be-published debut novel of the same name, last fall. It has been adapted for the big screen by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber ("500 Days of Summer" and "Pink Panther 2”), with “Rosaline” set in 16th-century Verona and centering on Rosaline Capulet, Romeo’s jilted ex-girlfriend and her perspective on the tragic love story.

Michael Sucsy has had an interesting and hard-working road into film. In February 2003, after watching “Grey Gardens," Albert and David Maysles’ 1975 documentary depicting the daily lives of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis’ aunt, Edith Ewing Bouvier, and her daughter, Edith Bouvier Beale, (two reclusive socialites who lived at Grey Gardens, a mansion in the posh neighborhood of Georgia Pond in the Hamptons), Sucsy immediately knew that there was another film there. He re-watched it several times, armed with a yellow legal pad and a thirst for uncovering more. For the next six years, the director exhausted Internet and library archives and interviewed family to write the script for what eventually became “Grey Gardens,” the HBO feature film (first aired on April 18th 2009) about the eccentric lives of mother, played by Jessica Lange, and daughter, played by Drew Barrymore. Michael Sucsy seems to love tragic drama because his follow up to "Grey Gardens" is the romantic drama “The Vow” based on the story of Kim and Krickitt Carpenter (their onscreen alter egos played by Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum) who took the “better or for worse” marriage vow very seriously, when Krickitt set about winning back his wife’s heart after a car accident caused her severe memory loss. Sounds like there will be pools of tears on around Valentine’s day 2012, when the film hits theaters.

Rebecca Serles’ novel, "Rosaline" arrives on bookstands in spring 2012. --Laura Vrabie [Variety]

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