EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate prevailed in an auction for worldwide rights to make Fascinating Rhythm, the John Carney-directed musical drama based inspired by the life of American composer George Gershwin. Carney co-wrote the script with Chris Cluess (SCTV and Night Court). The deal was locked down by Joe Drake, Chairman of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group.
Fascinating Rhythm will tell the story of a young woman’s magical journey through past and present New York City, infused with Gershwin’s life and music. Irwin Winkler is producing with Martin Scorsese, along with Charles Winkler and David Winkler. It will be fast tracked by Lionsgate.
From the time he debuted as a directed with the celebrated Once, Carney has shown a strong flair for injecting a musical shorthand into films that also have included Begin Again and Sing Street, and he was showrunner of Modern Love. He has been poised for a big mainstream movie breakout, and maybe this will be it. Scorsese has been intrigued with Gershwin as a movie subject for years, once with Paul Schrader and then John Guare scripting, and Robert De Niro mentioned as the star.
“We’ve been huge fans of all three of these filmmakers for many years, so to have the chance to work with all of them on one project is a thrill for me and the Lionsgate team,” said Drake. “This is a script we couldn’t wait to read from the moment we heard about it and every page delivered. John’s unique vision and voice sold us completely. It is enchanting, magical, lyrical, and wonderful, and in the hands of these filmmakers, it is an exciting story and a package that we really wanted. We are thrilled to be a part of it.”
Said Carney: “I couldn’t be more delighted. From the moment we went out to the market, there was a great connection with the project from the whole team at Lionsgate. It was inspiring. I can’t think of a better place to make a modern musical story about the greatest American composer to have ever lived. The whole team are thrilled to have found our home.”
The film will be made in cooperation with the Gershwin family, and the filmmakers have secured the rights to the music of George Gershwin to be heard throughout the film. That includes such standards as Fascinating Rhythm, I Got Rhythm, The Man I Love, Someone to Watch Over Me, ’S Wonderful, the Porgy and Bess songs Summertime, and I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin’. His classical works include Rhapsody in Blue, An American in Paris, and Concerto in F, and they are synonymous with jazz-age New York City. Gershwin died in 1937 of a brain tumor at the age of 38.
The package was brokered by Endeavor Content, which developed the script with Carney and Cluess. Carney is repped by by WME and Casarotto Ramsay; Cluess by Bruce Brown; Scorsese by WME and LBI Entertainment; Winkler is repped by attorney Dave Feldman at Brecheen, Feldman, Breimer, Silver & Thompson. The film will be overseen by Lionsgate’s Meredith Wieck and Scott O’Brien. Bonnie Stylides oversaw the deal for the studio.
For Scorsese and Winkler, this marks another collaboration in an enduring partnership that includes Raging Bull, Goodfellas, New York, New York, Silence, The Wolf of Wall Street, and The Irishman. Scorsese is currently directing Killers of the Flower Moon and Winkler’s readying the Michael B Jordan-directed Creed III.