By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood February 10, 2010 at 8:05AM
It's no surprise that gravel-voiced Hollywood mogul Robert Evans--a one-time actor, studio head, memoirist and documentary subject--should inspire a stage play. Famed West End, opera and film director Sir Richard Eyre (Notes on a Scandal) is directing the Broadway production, which will be adapted from Evans' memoirs The Kid Stays in the Picture and The Fat Lady Sang by Jon Robin Baitz (The Substance of Fire). Smuggler Films has acquired the live stage rights.
Besides being a wily businessman and canny raconteur, Evans turned out to be a terrific writer. Both books are must-reads. And he's a great subject for a play, because he's a larger-than-life character. He escaped the New York garment industry, acted in Hollywood, became a producer and Paramount chief very young, produced Love Story, Chinatown The Godfather, wooed and won gorgeous actresses, including wife Ali MacGraw, who he lost to Steve McQueen, played footsy with the mob, got in trouble with drugs, faced bankruptcy, and was saved by friends like Sumner Redstone and Jack Nicholson.
"How could one resist telling the story of a man who is part Casanova/part Don Quixote/part Horatio Alger," asks Eyre, "who produced some of the best films of the twentieth century - particularly if the story was written by Robbie Baitz?"
"Am I adapting - literally adapting - Robert Evans' stories of his many lives for the stage?" asks Baitz. "No. I would not know how to do that. I see him as an almost fictional character; a hallucinatory and vivid American survivor, voracious, kind, eccentric, charming, isolated, alternately at the center and then at the fringes, both mogul and artist, tortured and determined to matter. Acutely aware of how his world has changed, he has seen Hollywood transform from America's dream city to simply another corporate colony. Robert embodied and even helped create the great impossible cool of Hollywood's last great era. Now he is reflective, and time has worked its dark slow magic on him. His is a character determined to be seen and drawn out, a portrait of a brilliant, hustling street-smart 20th century prince looking back and trying to add up the wins, the losses, and the cost of being The American Male who got everything he ever wanted."
Producers are aiming for the 2010/2011 Broadway season.