EXCLUSIVE: MGM will turn the iconic stage musical Fiddler On The Roof into a feature film adaptation that will be directed by the red hot director Thomas Kail, who’ll produce with Dan Jinks and Aaron Harnick. Steven Levenson will write it, based on the musical that opened on Broadway in 1964 and won nine Tony Awards.
The musical features music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and book by Joseph Stein, and the original was directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins. Its Tony haul included Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score of a Musical, Best Director and Best Choreographer and it played more than 3000 performances. The production has been revived on Broadway multiple times and continues to be performed around the globe. The musical was turned into a 1971 Norman Jewison-directed film by United Artists with Topol playing Tevye. The film won three Oscars out of eight nominations.
Kail takes the job after directing the off-Broadway and Broadway collaborations with Lin-Manuel Miranda of In the Heights and Hamilton, winning the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical for the latter. He directed and produced the live capture film of Hamilton that Disney acquired in a precedent-setting $75 million acquisition by Disney, and the film will be released on Disney Plus this July. Kail also won a WGA award for the limited FX series Fosse/Verdon, which he developed and produced with Steven Levenson, who’s writing this screenplay. Kail directed five episodes of Fosse/Verdon and was nominated for an Emmy and DGA award. He won Emmys for directing and producing the TV musical Grease Live! for FOX.
Said MGM Film Group Chairman Michael De Luca: “MGM’s nearly centuries-long legacy of great film musicals continues with the great Tommy Kail’s new feature adaptation of one of Broadway’s most enduring classics. Along with the formidable team of Dan, Aaron, and Steven, we are thrilled they have come aboard to steward one of the great musicals to the big screen. Added MGM Film Group President Pam Abdy: “All of us at MGM look forward to sharing this timeless cultural milestone with moviegoing audiences of every generation.”
Said Kail, “It has been a life-long dream of mine to direct Fiddler, though I always imagined I would do it on stage. I am over-joyed to have the opportunity to make a new film version of my favorite show with Mike DeLuca at MGM, where so many transcendent musical movies have been made. I’m proud to partner with Dan Jinks, Aaron Harnick and my great pal, Steven Levenson, to honor this work that has profoundly inspired me and millions of others.”
Said Jinks, “I first saw Fiddler On The Roof onstage when I was 13 years old. I remember finding it hilarious funny, but also incredibly moving. It’s that rare musical that speaks to audiences of all ages. I’m thrilled that Mike DeLuca and MGM are giving the brilliant Tommy Kail, Steven Levenson, Aaron Harnick and me the opportunity to bring this amazing piece to a new generation of audiences.”
Said Harnick, “Fiddler On The Roof belongs to the world. Creating a Fiddler for a new generation is thrilling and an incredible privilege.”
Said Levenson “Fiddler On The Roof was the first piece of theater I saw, at the age of five. Today, more than fifty years after it changed the face of Broadway forever, the story of Tevye and his beloved village of Anatevka feels more timely than ever. I am beyond grateful to Mike DeLuca and MGM, Dan Jinks, and Aaron Harnick for the opportunity to tell this unforgettable story of resilience and hope in the face of hopelessness, and I am delighted to be collaborating again with the inimitable Tommy Kail.”
Jinks won the Oscar for the Sam Mendes-directed American Beauty, and his credits include Milk, Down with Love, Big Fish, and The Forgotten. He was lead producer on the Broadway transfer of Big Fish. Aaron Harnick produced the film Black Dynamite and wrote and directed 30 Days and he’s producing The Visitor, A Musical, based on Tom McCarthy’s film. His stage work includes Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune with Edie Falco and Stanley Tucci, Martin Short: Fame Becomes, Fiddler On The Roof (2004), and Amelie, A New Musical.
Levenson won the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical for Dear Evan Hansen and he won a Writers Guild Award and was Emmy nominated for writing and producing the FX limited series Fosse/Verdon, which he developed with s Kail. He was writer/producer of Masters of Sex for Showtime and scripted for Lin-Manuel Miranda the Jonathan Larsen musical Tick, Tick… Boom!. He’s adapting for the screen Dear Evan Hansen for director Stephen Chbosky.
Kail and Harnick are represented by WME. Jinks is represented by attorney Eric Brooks. Levenson is represented by attorney David Berlin.