West Side Story – Spielberg remake

Spielberg usually gets what he wants 3 Stars

http://deadline.com/2018/01/steven-spielberg-indiana-jones-west-side-story-directing-vehicles-1202262857/

Spielberg usually gets what he wants, but I cannot understand the value of remaking this film when the original is as close to perfect as it gets. If he wants to make a musical, I’m all for that but I wish he would use his considerable clout and talent to film one that hasn’t been made into a movie before.

I mean, if someone is going to make a West Side Story remake, at least Spielberg is too good to dismiss. But it still seems like a missed opportunity for him to do something genuinely new.

Thoughts?

Published by

Kevin Collins

administrator

353 Comments

  1. I agree that this is a remake that does NOT need to be done. Actually, IMO, almost ALL of the remakes that have been done in the past ten or so years should never have seen the light of day. I'm really tired of the retreading of old material.

  2. When it was recently (semi-recently) revived on Broadway, Lin-Manuel Miranda was brought in to rewrite the lyrics to many of the songs in Spanish. If Spielberg is doing a new adaptation, having the Spanish-speaking characters actually singing in Spanish could be a reason to justify its existence.

    But I'd be perfectly content to allow the original film to stand alone as is.

  3. Jake Lipson

    I mean, if someone is going to make a West Side Story remake, at least Spielberg is too good to dismiss. But it still seems like a missed opportunity for him to do something genuinely new.

    Thoughts?

    If Spielberg is interested, I'd assume he has some good and different take on the material. Remake or not, I'm not particularly into musicals so while I'll see it based solely on Spielberg, I'm not counting the days or anything.

  4. Tino

    this is just a rumor

    I don't think Deadline, which is a highly respected industry trade, really traffics in rumors. If they're reporting it, there has to be some weight behind it. That being said, it may or may not actually come together. But I believe that he wants to do it. And like I said, Spielberg usually gets what he wants.

  5. I think it's a foolhardy notion whether they do it in period, update it for present day, or let the Sharks speak and sing in Spanish.

    If you want to remake a classic film musical, remake one that wasn't done very well the first time around: Porgy and Bess or Camelot or do the musical version of Irma La Douce or Fanny.

  6. Jake Lipson

    I don't think Deadline, which is a highly respected industry trade, really traffics in rumors. If they're reporting it, there has to be some weight behind it. That being said, it may or may not actually come together. But I believe that he wants to do it. And like I said, Spielberg usually gets what he wants.

    From the article you linked:

    “I’m hearing that one might be his dream project, a new version of West Side Story. Spielberg’s camp had no comment on his plans.”

    That sounds like a rumor to me.

  7. Matt Hough

    If you want to remake a classic film musical, remake one that wasn't done very well the first time around

    I think that's a great rule of thumb for all remakes, musical or not. If the original film was great, leave it alone. If the original film had a great idea that was done badly, take another shot at it.

  8. Matt Hough

    I think it's a foolhardy notion whether they do it in period, update it for present day, or let the Sharks speak and sing in Spanish.

    If you want to remake a classic film musical, remake one that wasn't done very well the first time around: Porgy and Bess or Camelot or do the musical version of Irma La Douce or Fanny.

    You forgot there's this lost alien from another planet who doesn't like to be in America … 😉

  9. Josh Steinberg

    When it was recently (semi-recently) revived on Broadway, Lin-Manuel Miranda was brought in to rewrite the lyrics to many of the songs in Spanish. If Spielberg is doing a new adaptation, having the Spanish-speaking characters actually singing in Spanish could be a reason to justify its existence.

    I agree, this is one of the few classics with interesting avenues of exploration for a remake. Using the bilingual 2009 libretto is the most obvious one, but also using a cast of Puerto Rican actors and actresses for the Sharks. There's also room to make both gangs feel more dangerous than they did in the original movie, and to better meld the stuff shot on location with the stuff shot on sound stages.

    There are certain things that any remake will fall short on: You're never going to top Jerome Robbins's choreography, for instance. But I think there's room for another different adaptation that doesn't supplant the Wise classic but exists alongside it.

  10. usrunnr

    With Amazon practically giving away WSS blu the last few years, I was hoping someone was doing a restoration to correct the mistakes on the current version.

    Unfortunately, MGM already did issue one fix to that, which still didn't quite correct the problem. The appear to be satisfied with this master and made it available as a DCP to repertory theater. I suspect it's unlikely that they'll fix something that they believe is fine.

  11. Matt Hough

    I think it's a foolhardy notion whether they do it in period, update it for present day, or let the Sharks speak and sing in Spanish.

    If you want to remake a classic film musical, remake one that wasn't done very well the first time around: Porgy and Bess or Camelot or do the musical version of Irma La Douce or Fanny.

    Yes, Camelot deserves a remake. Use actors who can sing this time.

    atcolomb

    I think Spielberg should do a remake of South Pacific and have Jaws do a cameo in the film. 😉

    His name is Bruce.

  12. The other thing about this that feels icky to me is that out of all the major creatives who shaped West Side Story — Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, Stephen Sondheim, and Jerome Robbins — only Sondheim is still living.

    They *can* do a remake — it's possible to get the rights — but doing any major revisions, such as updating it to modern times, when the original creative people are not here to be part of that conversation, doesn't really feel like a good idea. A stage production would be required to retain the original script and score, but a new film would not have the same stipulation.

    And if you're not going to change it, then why do another film at all?

  13. Jake Lipson

    The other thing about this that feels icky to me is that out of all the major creatives who shaped West Side Story — Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, Stephen Sondheim, and Jerome Robbins — only Sondheim is still living.

    They *can* do a remake — it's possible to get the rights — but doing any major revisions, such as updating it to modern times, when the original creative people are not here to be part of that conversation, doesn't really feel like a good idea.

    It's worth noting that Arthur Laurents was the driving force behind the bilingual book and other revisions for the 2009 revival. He directed it. He and Sondheim brought Lin-Manuel Miranda in to do the translations.

  14. Adam Lenhardt

    It's worth noting that Arthur Laurents was the driving force behind the bilingual book and other revisions for the 2009 revival.

    Absolutely. I'm sure he would be fine with the idea of more Spanish being used, but he's still not around to give his guidance to a new film.

    For a musical being adapted from the work of a living person, they would be heavily involved in the process of that film. Even if they somehow obtained the rights, no one would consider making a Hamilton film without Lin-Manuel Miranda being directly involved. So why should a Wet Side Story film be any different, especially when it was already done brilliantly when all of its creators were around?

  15. atcolomb

    I think Spielberg should do a remake of South Pacific and have Jaws do a cameo in the film. 😉

    SOUTH PACIFIC has already been remade and filmed in Australia. Made for TV it was the worst ever musical remake in history.

  16. If this rumor ever becomes more than just that, I would be very interested in Spielberg’s take on it. He has wanted to make a musical since 1941 and flirted a bit with it with the opening of Temple Of Doom.

    Plus because….ya know…he’s Spielberg. 😉

  17. Bad idea – period. As already suggested elsewhere in these posts – if you must 'remake' a movie, choose from a roster of 'good ideas' executed poorly in the hopes to improve upon their nuggets of wisdom. Occasionally, you can do a remake as an update: herein, the remakes of Father of the Bride and Narrow Margin immediately come to mind, as does A Perfect Murder (the remake of Dial M for Murder).

    But honestly, why remake West Side Story? Personally, I think Spielberg ought to pour his clout and money into a push to get the original reissued on Blu-ray and 4K in a 'perfect' presentation and forget about 'improving' on a movie that already won the Oscar for Best Picture! Dumb. Really dumb…and pointless – utterly, tragically pointless.

  18. Remakes made sense in the old studio days when the original was locked away in the vault after showing for a month. Today, with home video, if I want to see any of these again, I just take one off the shelf. What is the incentive to go to the movie theatre?

  19. atcolomb

    I think Spielberg should do a remake of South Pacific and have Jaws do a cameo in the film. 😉

    Actually, Jaws should be the star and all those awful characters should be shark bait.

    And the shark gets to sing all the songs:

    "Some enchanted evening, you will bite a stranger…"
    "There is nothing like a dame…(chomp, chomp)"
    "I'm gonna wash that man right out of my teeth…"

    😛

  20. As an aside here, is there any reason why I suddenly am not getting any e-mail alerts at all?
    Have I accidently changed settings or something? I just added to the above thread, there was a reply and no e-mail.

  21. Nick*Z

    As already suggested elsewhere in these posts – if you must 'remake' a movie, choose from a roster of 'good ideas' executed poorly in the hopes to improve upon their nuggets of wisdom.

    Tino

    He has wanted to make a musical since 1941 and flirted a bit with it with the opening of Temple Of Doom.

    Spielberg can make basically anything he wants. Given that power, if he wants to make a musical, I would be fully supportive of that — but why not make one that has never had a film before?

    Off the top of my head, Miss Saigon is another epic culturally-relevant love story that has been languishing in development hell for a long time. Last I heard a couple years ago, Danny Boyle was having conversations about doing that, but nothing has happened yet. If Spielberg took to it, he could take it straight out of development hell and into theaters by the end of the decade.

    Not that I want to pick for him, but, you know, there are plenty of other musicals like that struggling to get made. Do one of those, man. Don't touch the ones that are already done and perfect.

  22. Jake Lipson

    Don't touch the ones that are already done and perfect.

    I've been thinking a lot about this over the past day or so, and I'm really of two minds on West Side Story in particular. On a technical level, I do believe it's perfect – the direction, choreography, book, songs, score and performances are all top notch, and I'm not sure any could be bested. But, on the other hand, in a story where the main theme is two people from two different backgrounds and cultures being able to come together and transcend racism and bigotry and hate, in a modern context it is somewhat odd to see that pairing actually be two white people, one playing a white person and one wearing makeup to portray someone of Puerto Rican descent. In 2018, they'd never make that casting choice to begin with. Now, I completely understand that things were different when the original film was made, and that in casting Natalie Wood, they picked one of the biggest movie stars of the time for the role, and it's hard to argue against that. I don't really mean to criticize the original film and filmmakers for the choices made then. But the more I think about it, the more I believe there may be room for a version of the film that honors the heritage of the characters being portrayed in the story by casting actors with more appropriate backgrounds. That could be a very empowering thing and a very positive thing.

    1. I have always found it interesting that a Greek American playing the leader of a Puerto Rican gang, as well as a Puerto Rican gang that is roughly 50% Anglo ( as well as their girlfriends) never elicits the same amount of discussion as a Russian American actress playing Maria.

  23. Josh Steinberg

    there may be room for a version of the film that honors the heritage of the characters being portrayed in the story by casting actors with more appropriate backgrounds. That could be a very empowering thing and a very positive thing.

    Fair point — but if the casting is the only issue, and the book, script, score, etc. are perfect as-is, that's not really very much to change, content-wise. So, it's still a tightrope they'd have to walk in terms of how to do that again, even if they cast it in an ethnically-correct manner.

  24. Josh Steinberg

    I've been thinking a lot about this over the past day or so, and I'm really of two minds on West Side Story in particular. On a technical level, I do believe it's perfect – the direction, choreography, book, songs, score and performances are all top notch, and I'm not sure any could be bested. But, on the other hand, in a story where the main theme is two people from two different backgrounds and cultures being able to come together and transcend racism and bigotry and hate, in a modern context it is somewhat odd to see that pairing actually be two white people, one playing a white person and one wearing makeup to portray someone of Puerto Rican descent. In 2018, they'd never make that casting choice to begin with. Now, I completely understand that things were different when the original film was made, and that in casting Natalie Wood, they picked one of the biggest movie stars of the time for the role, and it's hard to argue against that. I don't really mean to criticize the original film and filmmakers for the choices made then. But the more I think about it, the more I believe there may be room for a version of the film that honors the heritage of the characters being portrayed in the story by casting actors with more appropriate backgrounds. That could be a very empowering thing and a very positive thing.

    On the plus side: Rita Moreno was actually born in Puerto Rico … 😎 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rita_Moreno

  25. B-ROLL

    On the plus side: Rita Moreno was actually born in Puerto Rico … 😎

    Indeed. And I wonder how much the casting of Moreno and other actors and actresses that have more appropriate backgrounds for those parts has helped with the film enduring. I wonder if it had been an all white cast across the board, if the film would be looked upon differently than it is today.

    Jake Lipson

    Fair point — but if the casting is the only issue, and the book, script, score, etc. are perfect as-is, that's not really very much to change, content-wise.

    For people of Puerto Rican descent who grew up with perhaps the most culturally famous example of their heritage being played by a white person, I imagine they'd see it as a very big change. I get what you're saying, but I think that change might mean more than you're giving it credit. As a white guy, there are no shortage of examples that I can look at to see myself portrayed onscreen. I can't imagine what it must be like to be of Puerto Rican descent and to watch this famous love story of a white teenager falling in love with a Puerto Rican teenager, with the unintended subtext that the only Puerto Rican that was acceptable for the white teen to fall for was the one played by the white girl. At best, this might make the entire premise laughable to younger generations who are used to more diverse and ethnically appropriate casting choices; at worst, given how the film has been so honored and is perceived to be untouchable, it might just play as another example of being told by society that Puerto Ricans are somehow "less than" and "the other" and therefore, unworthy.

    If the film had been about a white gang vs. a black gang, and the leader of that gang was played by a white man in blackface, there'd be no question in today's world that that was not okay, right? So, why is it okay if it's a Puerto Rican?

    Jake, I'm sorry if this comes across as picking on you, I don't intend to… just using your quote as a jumping off point for thoughts of mine that are still evolving. 24 or 48 hours ago, I would have said that the idea of West Side Story being revisited in any form was folly. But the more I think about it, the more I see an opportunity to do something special with it, particularly if a master filmmaker like Spielberg was at the helm. I think the revisions from the most recent Broadway production offer a path forward that would justify a remake's existence in a way that remakes of other classic musicals might not be justified.

  26. Josh Steinberg

    Jake, I'm sorry if this comes across as picking on you, I don't intend to… just using your quote as a jumping off point for thoughts of mine that are still evolving.

    It does not seem that way at all, so no need to apologize.

    And to answer your question: it's not okay to have blackface or Puerto Rican-face, now. We have evolved beyond that as a culture. But the simple fact that Natalie Wood was made up to look Pueerto Rican does not take away from the otherwise masterful film that they made. The answer to "Why make this again?" can be "so we can do it with ethnic actors," but that in and of itself does not mean that they don't have to find other ways to freshen it, too, which is going to be a challenge when everything is so great in the original. That's all I mean. Simply doing it with ethnic actors does not erase the legacy of the original, and therefore it will still be a very high standard to live up to in almost every regard other than the non-ethnic casting.

    1. George Chakiris, Gus Trikonis, Larry Roquemore, Jamie Rogers ,Eddie Verso, Suzy Kaye et al were ALL made u to look Puerto Rican. Just as Rita Moreno was made up to look Asian for “The King and I’, in which she also had her vocals dubbed (and which she conveniently leaves out of the conversation when criticizing Wood’s casting).

  27. They did "West Side Story" at my daughter's high school back in 2001 or so and the casting was all over the place, with whites, blacks, Latinos, Asians intermingled on each side. I think the idea was to give the biggest parts to the best people, regardless of ethnicity. It was kind of weird, to say the least. My daughter was an art major so she wasn't in it, but she had earlier taken drama classes at the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club in the Bronx (where Jennifer Lopez got her start) and she and her class–all Puerto Rican girls–did "Gee, Officer Krupke" in a show. (My daughter is a West Side Story baby–white father–who grew up watching WEST SIDE STORY incessantly–and Puerto Rican mother.)

  28. Vic Pardo

    I think the idea was to give the biggest parts to the best people, regardless of ethnicity. It was kind of weird, to say the least.

    This increasingly common practice is called "colorblind casting." It works when the content of the show doesn't have anything to do with race. However, since race is a central theme of West Side Story, it is essential that it be cast correctly, especially for a new Hollywood film.

    It's also worth noting that, later in the run of the Broadway revival, the original English-language lyrics were restored due to audience member complaints about not being able to understand the Spanish. The cast recording for this production preserves the Spanish lyrics because it was recorded around the time of the show's opening, but they did eventually back down on having as much Spanish. Presumably, if they included the Spanish lyrics in the film, English subtitles would be offered for those sections, so it might not be as much of an issue on film, but it's still worth noting that that happened.

    1. Oddest color blind casting I’ve seen is a concert performance of “South Pacific” with Reba Mcentire ( great!) and Brain Stokes. While Stokes was great too. He’s African-American and the plot turns on racism.

  29. TJPC

    As an aside here, is there any reason why I suddenly am not getting any e-mail alerts at all?
    Have I accidently changed settings or something? I just added to the above thread, there was a reply and no e-mail.

    Happened to me for several days but it is back to normal to-day. Must by an HTF problem not ours.

  30. As a bit of an aside, I wanted to say/brag that I saw Chita Rivera in concert tonight, which happens to also be her 85th birthday. She is, of course, the indelible Tony-winning star of the original Broadway production as Anita, plus many, many other roles throughout an illustrious career in the theatre. While of course she has aged in the 60 years since West Side Story premiered, she has done so magnificently, and is, as ever, one of the world's greatest entertainers of all time. It was a great privilege to be in her audience tonight.

    She sang songs from throughout her career, but West Side got both "A Boy Like That" and "America." With respect to all the talented women who have sang these since she originated them, no one does it quite like her.

    If Spielberg does go through with this remake, I feel it only appropriate that he should find her a cameo in it somewhere to honor hr legacy in this show.

  31. Jake Lipson

    As a bit of an aside, I wanted to say/brag that I saw Chita Rivera in concert tonight, which happens to also be her 85th birthday. She is, of course, the indelible Tony-winning star of the original Broadway production as Anita, plus many, many other roles throughout an illustrious career in the theatre. While of course she has aged in the 60 years since West Side Story premiered, she has done so magnificently, and is, as ever, one of the world's greatest entertainers of all time. It was a great privilege to be in her audience tonight.

    She sang songs from throughout her career, but West Side got both "A Boy Like That" and "America." With respect to all the talented women who have sang these since she originated them, no one does it quite like her.

    If Spielberg does go through with this remake, I feel it only appropriate that he should find her a cameo in it somewhere to honor hr legacy in this show.

    I also saw Chita Rivera when she was performing at the Sydney Opera House, many years ago. A truly unforgettable experience.

  32. I have seen Chita RIvera in three Broadway shows: the original Chicago, The Rink, and Kiss of the Spider Woman. She was magnificent in all of them but particularly Chicago. I couldn't get my aunt and uncle (who used to take my brother and me to NYC a couple of times a year) to go to Bye Bye Birdie because they thought it was a rock and roll show, and they were afraid of West Side Story's plot which they thought was too heavy for someone as young as I was. But that was OK. In their place I saw Carnival!, My Fair Lady, and The Music Man.

  33. Jake Lipson

    http://deadline.com/2018/01/steven-…est-side-story-directing-vehicles-1202262857/

    Spielberg usually gets what he wants, but I cannot understand the value of remaking this film when the original is as close to perfect as it gets. If he wants to make a musical, I'm all for that but I wish he would use his considerable clout and talent to film one that hasn't been made into a movie before.

    I mean, if someone is going to make a West Side Story remake, at least Spielberg is too good to dismiss. But it still seems like a missed opportunity for him to do something genuinely new.

    Thoughts?

    I have no problem with remakes, as long as the originals are still available (which is usually the case). If a good director has an interesting take on a story that's already been filmed, it might be worth watching.

    Also, I don't really consider the 1961 movie "close to perfect." It has a hell of a lot going for it. The dancing is among the best in cinema. And it has three great supporting performances: Russ Tamblyn, George Chakiris, and Rita Moreno.

    But Natalie Wood is miscast, and Richard Beymer is absolutely horrible. If you're going to do Romeo and Juliet, you need a good Romeo and a good Juliet.

    You can read my article on the film.

  34. LincolnSpector

    I have no problem with remakes, as long as the originals are still available (which is usually the case). If a good director has an interesting take on a story that's already been filmed, it might be worth watching.

    Also, I don't really consider the 1961 movie "close to perfect." It has a hell of a lot going for it. The dancing is among the best in cinema. And it has three great supporting performances: Russ Tamblyn, George Chakiris, and Rita Moreno.

    But Natalie Wood is miscast, and Richard Beymer is absolutely horrible. If you're going to do Romeo and Juliet, you need a good Romeo and a good Juliet.

    You can read my article on the film.

    I totally agree with you that Natalie Wood was miscast. Same for Richard Beymer. He is said to have crawled under the seat when he first saw the film. He hated his performance. It was truly horrible .Let's face it, he never had much of a career. Whatever could has possessed Robert Wise to cast these two actors? The story may have been based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, but even he based his story on other similar stories that were common in his day. I am truly amazed at how many gullible people to-day still think that Romeo and Juliet was a true story. He just based his story on someone else's and made his characters older and set it in a different city. I saw this film when originally released several times on a huge 62 ft wide screen in 70mm. Luckily it was shown without an intermission as the Director insisted for it's Roadshow release.

  35. Josh Steinberg

    I feel like you guys are failing to take into account that West Side Story, with Beymer and Tamblyn, is actually a Twin Peaks prequel 😀

    I'm sure West Side Story is a big reason why they got cast in Twin Peaks.

  36. LincolnSpector

    I have no problem with remakes, as long as the originals are still available (which is usually the case). If a good director has an interesting take on a story that's already been filmed, it might be worth watching.

    Also, I don't really consider the 1961 movie "close to perfect." It has a hell of a lot going for it. The dancing is among the best in cinema. And it has three great supporting performances: Russ Tamblyn, George Chakiris, and Rita Moreno.

    But Natalie Wood is miscast, and Richard Beymer is absolutely horrible. If you're going to do Romeo and Juliet, you need a good Romeo and a good Juliet.

    You can read my article on the film.

    I would agree that Wood and Beymer were miscast. But the fact remains that as written, both Tony and Maria are the least interesting characters in the show. Even when I saw the recent stage revival with better casting in the roles this was apparent.

  37. So, apparently, this is on and casting has begun. Spielberg does a musical (remake). Why not? And if you really want to change it up, how about making it the Crips and the Bloods from the 80s and do that version? You can still call it West Side Story since the Crips and the Bloods were all over from Culver City to Venice beach on… the West Side. And they could rap "America" like in Hamilton with a few minor lyric changes.

  38. Hollywoodaholic

    So, apparently, this is on and casting has begun. Spielberg does a musical (remake). Why not? And if you really want to change it up, how about making it the Crips and the Bloods from the 80s and do that version? You can still call it West Side Story since the Crips and the Bloods were all over from Culver City to Venice beach on… the West Side. And they could rap "America" like in Hamilton with a few minor lyric changes.

    Do you have a link to confirmation that it’s a definite go?

  39. Tino

    Do you have a link to confirmation that it’s a definite go?

    http://www.showbiz411.com/2018/01/2…ory-pro-forma-casting-call-goes-out-for-leads

    Sadly, they are not taking my suggestion and it will still be NYC in the 1950s, but you better speak Spanish if you want to play a Puerto Rican in this version. The book looks to be different, though, with Tony Kushner writing the script (Angels in America).

  40. Hollywoodaholic

    So, apparently, this is on and casting has begun. Spielberg does a musical (remake). Why not? And if you really want to change it up, how about making it the Crips and the Bloods from the 80s and do that version? You can still call it West Side Story since the Crips and the Bloods were all over from Culver City to Venice beach on… the West Side. And they could rap "America" like in Hamilton with a few minor lyric changes.

    I think Cannon did that version in the 1980s:
    [​IMG]

  41. I don’t get the hate at this idea.

    The original will still be available and remain the classic that it is.

    What bearing will this remake have on the original? None.

    If it’s not your cup of tea just don’t see it. Seems like a simple solution.

  42. Well we won’t see this film before 2021 at the earliest…if it actually ever gets made.

    Spielberg is committed to filming the next Indiana Jones film first next year with a 2020 release.

  43. bujaki

    Yes, Chicago with Verdon! Unforgettable production.

    Also with Jerry Orbach, who should have played Billy Flynn in the movie. Richard Gere was much better than I thought he'd be (meant as a compliment; he was good), but no one played that type of role better than Orbach. As for his age at the time, Flynn doesn't have any romantic interest in any of the others. He's just a cynical lawyer. True, he was in Law & Order at the time, but they let Jesse L. Martin off to do Rent, so Orbach was available.

  44. My problem with WSS from the first time i saw it as a teenager on a rerelease in the late '60s is that it seemed dated coming out just before the social revolution of the '60s. With 50 years of social change I think a remake would be fine and Spielberg can give it more gravitas. Musicals are meant to be re-interpreted on stage and a re-do could add more grit and realism to a story of the streets.

  45. My problem with WSS from the first time i saw it as a teenager on a rerelease in the late '60s is that it seemed dated coming out just before the social revolution of the '60s. With 50 years of social change I think a remake would be fine and Spielberg can give it more gravitas. Musicals are meant to be re-interpreted on stage and a re-do could add more grit and realism to a story of the streets.

  46. Tino

    What’s so strange about it? Seems perfectly acceptable to me.

    "Maria & Anita are Latina" seemed to me to be a dig at the 1961 movie for casting Natalie Wood as Maria.

    "Must be able to sing" seemed to me to be a dig at Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer, both of whose singing was dubbed by other voices. (Rita Moreno was dubbed, too, even though she's been a singer throughout her career.)

  47. Vic Pardo

    "Maria & Anita are Latina" seemed to me to be a dig at the 1961 movie for casting Natalie Wood as Maria.

    "Must be able to sing" seemed to me to be a dig at Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer, both of whose singing was dubbed by other voices. (Rita Moreno was dubbed, too, even though she's been a singer throughout her career.)

    I take as being more honest to the source material than it being a “dig”. Kudos to them. :thumbsup:

  48. Vic Pardo

    "Maria & Anita are Latina" seemed to me to be a dig at the 1961 movie for casting Natalie Wood as Maria.

    "Must be able to sing" seemed to me to be a dig at Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer, both of whose singing was dubbed by other voices. (Rita Moreno was dubbed, too, even though she's been a singer throughout her career.)

    This is how every casting call I've seen has worded. They'll specify which ethnicity their looking for (or "All Ethnicities" if the script doesn't specify), an age range, and any specific talents required.

    In this case, it looks like Speilberg's looking to cast unknowns instead of names. If that's the case, you might as well cast actors and actresses that check all of the boxes. There are plenty of 15-25 year olds with the musical theater chops to pull off the vocals without bringing in outside help.

  49. I’m all for it. I was involved in a stage production of West Side Story many years ago and the director made it so that the gangs were much more hateful, racist and violent; and the love story more passionate. It was actually a very well-acted production, which made it a more believable, more emotional experience to me. The dancing and choreography was excellent, as well. While I liked the original movie, I wasn’t completely sold on the enmity betwixt the gangs, nor the romantic intensity between Tony and Maria. I’d definitely be up for something a bit more gritty and engaging. Dismissing a remake, before actually seeing it, to me, is like saying all stage productions other than the original broadway production and cast are a terrible idea…

    On a similar note. I saw the 2016 remake of Ben-Hur for the first time last night. The 1959 version is my favorite movie of all time, so believe me, I was ready to dismiss it, but I actually liked it pretty well. I still liked the original better, but the 2016 version was still well-done (mostly) and definitely held my attention. The way they did the end credits was REALLY stupid and corny, tho…

  50. Tino

    From the article you linked:

    “I’m hearing that one might be his dream project, a new version of West Side Story. Spielberg’s camp had no comment on his plans.”

    That sounds like a rumor to me.

    It's happening. Tony Kurshner has signed on to do the screenplay. My source: Kushner's husband, film historian Mark Harris.

  51. I don't understand why people get all hot and bothered about remakes. What's the worst thing that can happen? One more lousy movie that's forgotten in a few years, while the original remains loved for generations.

    What's the best that can happen: Two great films that take different approaches to the same story.

  52. LincolnSpector

    It's happening. Tony Kurshner has signed on to do the screenplay. My source: Kushner's husband, film historian Mark Harris.

    I know. That was two weeks ago. At the time it was just a rumor. It was confirmed shortly after I posted that with the info you just posted. So at this point it’s old news.;)

  53. LincolnSpector

    I don't understand why people get all hot and bothered about remakes. What's the worst thing that can happen? One more lousy movie that's forgotten in a few years, while the original remains loved for generations.

    What's the best that can happen: Two great films that take different approaches to the same story.

    I just feel that some films should be left alone. It's also a resources issue. In the case of the WSS remake, I'd MUCH rather see a director like Spielberg spend his time, talent and treasure giving us something new and unique instead of retreading ground that's already been covered.

  54. dpippel

    I just feel that some films should be left alone. It's also a resources issue. In the case of the WSS remake, I'd MUCH rather see a director like Spielberg spend his time, talent and treasure giving us something new and unique instead of retreading ground that's already been covered.

    The 1960 version will be left alone. It will not be cut, taken out of circulation, or converted to 3D (at least I hope not). So there's nothing to worry about.

    And it's quite possible that Spielberg and Kushner will make a very different and equally-good version. I doubt they'll do better than the original when it comes to choreography, but in other ways, it may be much better.

  55. Chelsearicky

    George Chakiris, Gus Trikonis, Larry Roquemore, Jamie Rogers ,Eddie Verso, Suzy Kaye et al were ALL made u to look Puerto Rican. Just as Rita Moreno was made up to look Asian for "The King and I', in which she also had her vocals dubbed (and which she conveniently leaves out of the conversation when criticizing Wood's casting).

    Jaime Rogers and Eddie Verso are both Puerto Rican.

  56. I know this is probably just wishful thinking, but given the current struggles in Puerto Rico, I think it would be great if the production could try to give jobs and internships on the film to students or graduates who were studying at Puerto Rican film schools or working locally there. It would be a great gesture that might go a long way.

    I was reading last night about how after Katrina hit New Orleans, Elvis Costello sought to record with the famed New Orleans pianist Allen Toussaint, and that the sight of Toussaint recording again in New Orleans gave hope to people there that things would get better again. And I thought, if that brought a measure of comfort and joy to people in New Orleans, why not try the same idea for Puerto Rico?

  57. That's a great idea, Josh. Incidentally, Lin-Manuel Miranda (who did the Spanish translations for the 2009 revival) is bringing Hamilton to Puerto Rico next year and returning to the title role for the first time since leaving the Broadway company in 2016, in an attempt to give Puerto Rico just such a boost. If they are going to use Miranda's translations again, perhaps he will get on board and organize something like what you're describing.

  58. Well, surprise. Apparently Spielberg is also considering directing a biopic of Leonard Bernstein, and this may or may not jump in front of the West Side Story remake. What makes this sort of funny, of course, is that Bernstein is the composer of West Side Story, so Spielberg must really be on a Bernstein kick to want to do two such projects back-to-back. Variety says Indiana Jones 5 is definitely next on his docket, though, and will come before either of the Bernstein projects.

    http://variety.com/2018/film/news/steven-spielbergs-west-side-story-1202722086/

  59. A Bernstein biopic would be a very interesting proposition if they don't go the route of so many other entertainment personality movies and fictionalize the subject, get songs and other compositions out of order. etc.

  60. Matt Hough

    A Bernstein biopic would be a very interesting proposition if they don't go the route of so many other entertainment personality movies and fictionalize the subject, get songs and other compositions out of order. etc.

    I trust Spielberg on this. While Bernstein is of course a legendary composer, I'm not sure a film about him would be a guarantee blockbuster, which means Spielberg would be doing it mostly because he wants to and for the artistic value of it. That means he obviously has a strong personal interest in it and would likely be invested in getting it right.

  61. Yeah, I was wondering about that myself. I wonder if this might be a situation like he's had before many times with Ready Player One and The Post/Minority Report and Catch Me If You Can/Jurassic Park and Schindler's s List where he basically produces both back-to-back and they come out with a very short turnaround time in between each other. Indy will of course be a summer blockbuster, and West Side Story will almost surely get a year-end awards run, but it's not out of the question at all for him to deliver both in the same year based on his past working patterns.

    It's also worth noting that I read somewhere that Fox controls the movie rights for West Side Story. I don't know where I read that or how valid that might or might not be. But if that's true this will likely end up being overseen by Disney by the time it happens, in which case that might make juggling the two easier, because he would be working for the same corporate entity in both cases.

  62. Wayne_j

    Tin Tin and Warhorse came out a few weeks apart.

    That too. Thanks; I knew I was missing one pair, but couldn't remember what went with War Horse. Actually, they were even closer together than that — Tintin opened December 21 and War Horse opened on Christmas Day.

    Because we know Indy will be a summer release, I think this one will be slightly more spaced out than that, since West Side Story will inevitably have an awards season run. However, it would not surprise me at all to see Indiana Jones and West Side Story both in 2020 (or, depending on how quickly West Side comes together, that one could theoretically end up in December 2019, with Indy following on its current date of July 10, 2020.

    Currently, Universal has the movie version of Wicked schedule for December 20, 2019 (which has since been claimed by Disney for Star Wars IX.) However, Wicked doesn't seem to have much momentum yet, so it seems unlikely that it will make that release date. Hypothetically, in the absence of West Side Story could probably easily counterprogram Star Wars in the way that The Greatest Showman worked opposite The Last Jedi this past holiday season (or how Mamma Mia! did great business across from The Dark Knight ten years ago.) Or West Side could be slotted for December 2020 after Indy that summer. We'll see.

  63. Jake Lipson

    That too. Thanks; I knew I was missing one pair, but couldn't remember what went with War Horse. Actually, they were even closer together than that — Tintin opened December 21 and War Horse opened on Christmas Day.

    Yeah, Spielberg is an iron man when he wants to be. Ready Player One was scheduled for December but Warners moved it to avoid Star Wars. However if they hadn't, RPO and The Post would have both opened this past Christmas.

    I think knowing that his editor Michael Kahn (and VFX guys, etc.) will give him what he wants enables him to to be able to be in production on one movie will also having another movie in post production. He's able to oversee post production without having to micromanage it.

  64. Indeed, little-remembered fact was that post on Jurassic Park was completely overseen by George Lucas at Skywalker while Spielberg was shooting Schindler's List in Europe. Hence Lucas being at the top of the "special thanks" list in the credits.

  65. Patrick H.

    Indeed, little-remembered fact was that post on Jurassic Park was completely overseen by George Lucas at Skywalker while Spielberg was shooting Schindler's List in Europe. Hence Lucas being at the top of the "special thanks" list in the credits.

    It wouldn't surprise me if Peter Jackson did the same for post for Tin Tin.

  66. Jake Lipson

    http://deadline.com/2018/01/steven-…est-side-story-directing-vehicles-1202262857/

    Spielberg usually gets what he wants, but I cannot understand the value of remaking this film when the original is as close to perfect as it gets. If he wants to make a musical, I'm all for that but I wish he would use his considerable clout and talent to film one that hasn't been made into a movie before.

    I mean, if someone is going to make a West Side Story remake, at least Spielberg is too good to dismiss. But it still seems like a missed opportunity for him to do something genuinely new.

    Thoughts?

    Quite frankly, I do not think that anybody, including Steven Spielberg, should re-make the film West Side Story. It's too iconic, too special and too much in a class by itself to be re-made, at all. Steve Spielberg has done a number of really fabulous films, but West Side Story is what it is, and definitely should be left alone.

  67. Josh Steinberg

    I think that's a great rule of thumb for all remakes, musical or not. If the original film was great, leave it alone. If the original film had a great idea that was done badly, take another shot at it.

    With some extremely rare exceptions, however, re-makes of already-existing films very seldom turn out as good, let alone better, than the original.

  68. TravisR

    If Spielberg is interested, I'd assume he has some good and different take on the material. Remake or not, I'm not particularly into musicals so while I'll see it based solely on Spielberg, I'm not counting the days or anything.

    I don't know, TravisR. I sincerely wish that Spielberg would leave West Side Story alone and do something else. There are other musicals that haven't yet been made into movies.

  69. mplo

    Quite frankly, I do not think that anybody, including Steven Spielberg, should re-make the film West Side Story. It's too iconic, too special and too much in a class by itself to be re-made, at all.

    mplo

    There are other musicals that haven't yet been made into movies.

    I certainly agree that there are plenty of musicals that don't have any filmed versions available, where it would be worthwhile to have one.

    But the more I think about it (and you can see the evolution of my views in some of these threads), the more I think there's an opportunity to do some good with a new West Side Story, specifically with their intention to do more racially appropriate casting.

    West Side Story is perhaps the most famous film in existence to involve Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican issues, and yet, the overwhelming majority of the Puerto Rican roles are played by people who are not of Latin descent. I don't know what it would be like to be a young Puerto Rican growing up, and watching this famous movie for the first time, and seeing the people that were supposed to be like me actually being played by white people wearing brown makeup. What kind of signal does that send?

    I completely understand that the casting was of its time. I think the movie is still phenomenal. But I think the casting issue alone presents a valid reason for taking a second shot at this musical.

    The last time West Side Story was revived on Broadway, that was the approach they took. All of the Puerto Rican characters were played by people of Latin descent this time. And some of the dialogue and songs were translated into Spanish, on the reasoning that native Spanish speakers conversing with each other might not necessarily be speaking or singing in English. I didn't get to see that production so I don't know how well that actually played, but given that those changes were commissioned by the play's original author, I think it's entirely valid and acceptable.

  70. First, I'll start out by saying that West Side Story is my all time favorite movie, hands down. Many people complain about the dubbing of the singing by Marni Nixon and Jimmy Bryant for Richard Beymer and Natalie Wood, who star as Tony and Maria. Due to my great love for this great classic movie-musical, I'm more than willing to overlook the dubbing, and to take into account that dubbing was very common during that period.

    West Side Story is a wonderful musical all around, and is one of the few musicals that was really successful on both stage and screen. The fact that West Side Story was preserved as a larger than life-sized piece of theatre when it was transferred from stage to screen is one of its strengths and best qualities about it. Having said all of the above, I firmly believe that the film West Side Story should not be re-made, by anybody, including Steven Spielberg, for the following reasons:

    A) Like most, if not all movies, West Side Story strongly reflects the times in which it was made. When the film West Side Story first came out, the upper West Side of Manhattan, where the story is set and takes place, was an extremely poor, rough and run-down part of the city. Today, it's very gentrified, and no longer a slum area. That, alone, would make the setting of a West Side Story re-make extremely difficult, if not impossible.

    B) The romance scenes, especially between Tony and Maria, as well as Bernardo and Anita, would be a great deal steamier, and more explicitly sexual. One of the beautiful aspects of West Side Story is the lack of explicitly sexual scenes and nudity.

    C) Many police departments here in the United States, especially in the poorer sections of large urban metropolises, have become much more militarized. A re-make of the film West Side Story would more than likely reflect that, therefore making both Lt. Schrank and Ofcr. Krupke much harsher, rougher, and meaner to both gangs, the Jets and Sharks, but especially the Sharks.

    D) There would be much more "blue" language, and even more overt prejudice and hatred, not only between the Jets and the Sharks, but on the part of the police, as well, especially the Sharks. The hatred between them would be even more intense, and the overall conflict not only between the Jets and Sharks, but between the two gangs and the police would be far more dangerous. Although I'm no stranger to "blue" language, it would entirely inappropriate for a film such as West Side Story.

    E) The fights between the Jets and the Sharks, as well as the breaking up of the fights by Lt. Schrank and Officer Krupke, would be far more graphic and intense.

    F) The Rumble, too, would be extremely graphic. Guns (automatic assault weapons, in particular), rather than switchblade knives or fisticuffs, would be employed, and more people on both sides would be killed, and the deaths, including the deaths of Riff, Bernardo and Tony, would be much, much bloodier. There would not even be a hint of reconciliation between the Jets and Sharks in the end, either.

    G) Both the Jets and the Sharks, as well as Lt. Schrank and Ofcr. Krupke, would end up behaving in even more extreme fashions towards each other.

    H) The Candy Store scene, in which Anita goes to Doc's Candy Store, at Maria's request, to warn Tony that Chino's gunning for him would more than likely end differently: Anita would end up not only being roughed up and insulted by the Jets, but more than likely raped, as well.

    I) The Bernstein musical score would more than likely be turned into something that combined hip-hop and rap music, which would be totally inappropriate for something such as West Side Story.

    J) A re-make of the film West Side Story would cut the heart and soul right out of it by destroying what is really great about the original film. Making a more up-to-date version of the film version of West Side Story wouldn't work. There's only one reason for anybody to re-make the film West Side Story: To turn it into a super piece of junk, where people treat each other even more harshly, the language and insults are "bluer" and more profane, where there are more explicit sex scenes, more deaths, more bloodshed, and a musical score full of rap and hip-hop music, with dancing that's much more frenetic and harder to interpret.

  71. Josh Steinberg

    I certainly agree that there are plenty of musicals that don't have any filmed versions available, where it would be worthwhile to have one.

    But the more I think about it (and you can see the evolution of my views in some of these threads), the more I think there's an opportunity to do some good with a new West Side Story, specifically with their intention to do more racially appropriate casting.

    West Side Story is perhaps the most famous film in existence to involve Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican issues, and yet, the overwhelming majority of the Puerto Rican roles are played by people who are not of Latin descent. I don't know what it would be like to be a young Puerto Rican growing up, and watching this famous movie for the first time, and seeing the people that were supposed to be like me actually being played by white people wearing brown makeup. What kind of signal does that send?

    I completely understand that the casting was of its time. I think the movie is still phenomenal. But I think the casting issue alone presents a valid reason for taking a second shot at this musical.

    The last time West Side Story was revived on Broadway, that was the approach they took. All of the Puerto Rican characters were played by people of Latin descent this time. And some of the dialogue and songs were translated into Spanish, on the reasoning that native Spanish speakers conversing with each other might not necessarily be speaking or singing in English. I didn't get to see that production so I don't know how well that actually played, but given that those changes were commissioned by the play's original author, I think it's entirely valid and acceptable.

    Reviving West Side Story on Broadway, on stage, is one thing. I stand by my opinions, however, that, as a film, West Side Story should be left alone. Also, when one looks at the Credits, particularly the list of credits of people who played the Sharks and their girls, there were a good number of the actors/actresses who played the Sharks that had Spanish-sounding names. As far as the casting issue goes, my only criticism is that Richard Beymer was a somewhat weak, lackluster Tony, partly because of the constraints that he had put on him by Robert Wise.

  72. Worth

    I don't think there's been any hint that the remake would take place in a contemporary setting.

    The thing is that New York, generally, has changed a great deal, and the West Side of Manhattan, which is now gentrified, wouldn't be such a great place for a re-make of West Side Story, especially since this movie-musical is about poorer kids who reside in and emigrate to a rougher, run-down part of the city of New York, and have much rougher and tougher lives.

  73. mplo

    The thing is that New York, generally, has changed a great deal, and the West Side of Manhattan, which is now gentrified, wouldn't be such a great place for a re-make of West Side Story, especially since this movie-musical is about poorer kids who reside in and emigrate to a rougher, run-down part of the city of New York, and have much rougher and tougher lives.

    More to the point, the gangs would more than likely be shooting at each other, as gangs in real life do, nowadays. Back when West Side Story came out as a film, rumbles between gangs that included fisticuffs and/or switchblade knives were a reality. That's no longer the case, now.

  74. The fact is, for everything that West Side Story does do well…

    It's still a film where the leading characters are essentially being played by white actors wearing a version of blackface.

    And while I can view the film in the context of the time that it was made, I'm also very much in favor of having another version of the story being put on record with more racially appropriate casting. If the whole point of the story is that love can transcend boundaries, then there must be a boundary that it transcends.

    I don't think that Robert Wise and Co set out to make something that would be racially insensitive or offensive. I think they made the best film that they could in the time they made it.

    But I also think there's room in the world for a version of West Side Story where Maria is played by someone who actually looks and sounds Puerto Rican. I think the representation matters. There's also the unintentional subtext of having Maria played by a white girl and Anita played by someone who is Puerto Rican – it unintentionally suggests that Maria (played by a white actress) is okay for a white man to date, but that Anita (played by a Puerto Rican actress) is not okay for a white man to date.

    And look, I don't think that Robert Wise set out to make that statement. But just in the way that we now reevaluate classics like Gone With The Wind and The Birth Of A Nation, accepting their filmmaking genius while seeking to put their problematic historical views in context, I think a similar reevaluation of West Side Story is probably overdue.

    Fortunately, the original West Side Story will always exist and be available to us. The making of a new version doesn't diminish the original in any way. If anything, it frees the original from the weight of having to be appropriate to our values and standards in 2018.

  75. dpippel

    I agree that this is a remake that does NOT need to be done. Actually, IMO, almost ALL of the remakes that have been done in the past ten or so years should never have seen the light of day. I'm really tired of the retreading of old material.

    Matt Hough

    I think it's a foolhardy notion whether they do it in period, update it for present day, or let the Sharks speak and sing in Spanish.

    If you want to remake a classic film musical, remake one that wasn't done very well the first time around: Porgy and Bess or Camelot or do the musical version of Irma La Douce or Fanny.

    Excellent points, Matt Hough! I couldn't agree with you more! Well said!

  76. Josh Steinberg

    The fact is, for everything that West Side Story does do well…

    It's still a film where the leading characters are essentially being played by white actors wearing a version of blackface.

    And while I can view the film in the context of the time that it was made, I'm also very much in favor of having another version of the story being put on record with more racially appropriate casting. If the whole point of the story is that love can transcend boundaries, then there must be a boundary that it transcends.

    I don't think that Robert Wise and Co set out to make something that would be racially insensitive or offensive. I think they made the best film that they could in the time they made it.

    But I also think there's room in the world for a version of West Side Story where Maria is played by someone who actually looks and sounds Puerto Rican. I think the representation matters. There's also the unintentional subtext of having Maria played by a white girl and Anita played by someone who is Puerto Rican – it unintentionally suggests that Maria (played by a white actress) is okay for a white man to date, but that Anita (played by a Puerto Rican actress) is not okay for a white man to date.

    And look, I don't think that Robert Wise set out to make that statement. But just in the way that we now reevaluate classics like Gone With The Wind and The Birth Of A Nation, accepting their filmmaking genius while seeking to put their problematic historical views in context, I think a similar reevaluation of West Side Story is probably overdue.

    Fortunately, the original West Side Story will always exist and be available to us. The making of a new version doesn't diminish the original in any way. If anything, it frees the original from the weight of having to be appropriate to our values and standards in 2018.

    One has to also bear in mind, however, that not all people of Latin descent are dark-skinned. Like Blacks and Caucasions, Latinos/Latinas, in real life, also range from being very dark-skinned to being very light-skinned, as well.

  77. dpippel

    I agree that this is a remake that does NOT need to be done. Actually, IMO, almost ALL of the remakes that have been done in the past ten or so years should never have seen the light of day. I'm really tired of the retreading of old material.

    Jake Lipson

    http://deadline.com/2018/01/steven-…est-side-story-directing-vehicles-1202262857/

    Spielberg usually gets what he wants, but I cannot understand the value of remaking this film when the original is as close to perfect as it gets. If he wants to make a musical, I'm all for that but I wish he would use his considerable clout and talent to film one that hasn't been made into a movie before.

    I mean, if someone is going to make a West Side Story remake, at least Spielberg is too good to dismiss. But it still seems like a missed opportunity for him to do something genuinely new.

    Thoughts?

    Hollywood has run out of creative ideas. That's why there are so many sequels and re-makes, and re-treads of older films coming out nowadays.

  78. AshJW

    May I quote John Waters:
    "You shouldn't be remaking the good movies…you should be remaking the bad ones in the hopes of making them better."
    😉

    Yay!! I second that! Thanks!

  79. Jim*Tod

    I would agree that Wood and Beymer were miscast. But the fact remains that as written, both Tony and Maria are the least interesting characters in the show. Even when I saw the recent stage revival with better casting in the roles this was apparent.

    Even in the stage play of West Side Story, it was the Jets and the Sharks in conflict who walked off with the show, if one gets the drift.

  80. jimmyd05

    My problem with WSS from the first time i saw it as a teenager on a rerelease in the late '60s is that it seemed dated coming out just before the social revolution of the '60s. With 50 years of social change I think a remake would be fine and Spielberg can give it more gravitas. Musicals are meant to be re-interpreted on stage and a re-do could add more grit and realism to a story of the streets.

    I don't know, jimmyd05. I, too, first saw the film West Side Story as a High School Senior, at around Christmastime of 1968, during the national re-release of it, and I fell in love with the film right then and there. As somebody who was still a teenager in high school when I first saw the film West Side Story, I identified with the Jets, the Sharks and their girls regarding kids being kids, and so on, but when I got a little older and began seeing it in independent movie theatres in and around Boston, i developed a deeper view point of it; I loved (and still love) the story behind West Side Story, but also began to really appreciate the film West Side Story for the work of art that it really and truly is, and I still do.

  81. mplo

    One has to also bear in mind, however, that not all people of Latin descent are dark-skinned. Like Blacks and Caucasions, Latinos/Latinas, in real life, also range from being very dark-skinned to being very light-skinned, as well.

    I'm well aware of this. But ultimately, it comes down to this: Maria is arguably the most famous Puerto Rican character in the history of American theatre and film, and in the film, she's played by a white woman in makeup.

  82. Josh Steinberg

    I'm well aware of this. But ultimately, it comes down to this: Maria is arguably the most famous Puerto Rican character in the history of American theatre and film, and in the film, she's played by a white woman in makeup.

    Maria doesn't seem to be made up at all. She was not made up to be dark-looking.

  83. I'm not really sure why you're arguing this particular point, particularly since I'm stating my opinion for why I think a remake could do some good.

    Having the Puerto Rican lead played by a while person of European descent is problematic casting for a 2018 audience.

    I believe in 2018, we can do better. And I believe that the symbolism behind a change towards more racially appropriate casting has the potential to do a lot of good.

  84. mplo

    Maria doesn't seem to be made up at all. She was not made up to be dark-looking.

    Natalie Wood was a white woman. Casting her was not consistent with the ethnicity of the character, which is the issue Josh is raising.

  85. Josh Steinberg

    I'm not really sure why you're arguing this particular point, particularly since I'm stating my opinion for why I think a remake could do some good.

    Having the Puerto Rican lead played by a while person of European descent is problematic casting for a 2018 audience.

    I believe in 2018, we can do better. And I believe that the symbolism behind a change towards more racially appropriate casting has the potential to do a lot of good.

    How would a re-make of the film West Side Story do a lot of good, even with a racially appropriate cast? I fail to see that point. Puerto Ricans are Spanish-speaking, and they, too, are of European descent, no? I still think that the best way to introduce the film West Side Story to a 2018 audience (i. e. younger viewers) would be to have a huge national re-release of the original 1961 film in movie theatres nationwide, after a good re-mastering, reprinting, and restorations, of course.

    Also, I personally would hate to see the original 1961 film West Side Story disappear into the dustbin of history. What do you think would happen to the original 1961 film of West Side Story if a re-make of it were to occur? Just curious.

  86. Adam Lenhardt

    I agree, this is one of the few classics with interesting avenues of exploration for a remake. Using the bilingual 2009 libretto is the most obvious one, but also using a cast of Puerto Rican actors and actresses for the Sharks. There's also room to make both gangs feel more dangerous than they did in the original movie, and to better meld the stuff shot on location with the stuff shot on sound stages.

    There are certain things that any remake will fall short on: You're never going to top Jerome Robbins's choreography, for instance. But I think there's room for another different adaptation that doesn't supplant the Wise classic but exists alongside it.

    Given Hollywood's standards of today, and given certain things that are happening in real life, such as the proliferation of guns, rather than fisticuffs or switchblades, and the fact that there's much more explicit sex and nudity in Hollywood than there was back then, I think that a re-make of the film West Side Story would reflect that–all too well. If that's what today's young people relate to, it's pathetic. I only hope that the original West Side Story film would also play in movie theatres, and not just be available on TV, or on DVD's or Blu-Ray.

  87. As you can see from the beginning of the thread, my first reaction to news of Spielberg developing this was that it didn't need to happen. And the original film does set a very, very high bar. But I also think Josh is correct that casting this in an inclusive, correct manner is a good starting point. Particularly for a movie where race is the fundamental issue, Ms. Wood's casting does seem inconsistent with the message the film is trying to convey. This doesn't take away from her performance, or the fact that the film is a major accomplishment, but is a good reason to consider another take.

    If I think the new film is bad, I'll be the first to say so. But as a result of the discussion we've been having, I no longer feel like the idea of doing this again is inherently a bad one. The stage version is done again and again and again, with different interpretations by different actors and directors and design teams. If Spielberg genuinely thinks he has a new angle that is worth exploring, why not? He is obviously well aware of the original film's status in history. And I think he knows that anything he does with the property would sit on the shelf next to the original, not supplanting it. But I have multiple cast albums of West Side Story, and the movie soundtrack, and they're all great. There can be room for more than one. Spielberg is certainly one of the greatest directors we've ever had, and more often than not, he's made good movies — often great ones. I'm curious to see what he'll do.

  88. Jake Lipson

    As you can see from the beginning of the thread, my first reaction to news of Spielberg developing this was that it didn't need to happen. And the original film does set a very, very high bar. But I also think Josh is correct that casting this in an inclusive, correct manner is a good starting point. Particularly for a movie where race is the fundamental issue, Ms. Wood's casting does seem inconsistent with the message the film is trying to convey. This doesn't take away from her performance, or the fact that the film is a major accomplishment, but is a good reason to consider another take.

    If I think the new film is bad, I'll be the first to say so. But as a result of the discussion we've been having, I no longer feel like the idea of doing this again is inherently a bad one. The stage version is done again and again and again, with different interpretations by different actors and directors and design teams. If Spielberg genuinely thinks he has a new angle that is worth exploring, why not? He is obviously well aware of the original film's status in history. And I think he knows that anything he does with the property would sit on the shelf next to the original, not supplanting it. But I have the original Broadway cast recording of West Side Story, and the movie soundtrack, and the MP3 version of the 2009 revival. There can be room for more than one.

    I still don't think that the idea of re-making the film West Side Story is necessarily a good one, either. I feel that there should also be room for differences in opinion, as well, and for people to agree to disagree. Because there are also white Latinos in real life, I see no issue of Natalie Wood's being cast as Maria in the 1961 film version of West Side Story. So what would happen in the event of a re-make of West Side Story? Would the original just sit on the shelf and not ever be shown again? That would be horrendous. West Side Story happens to be a musical that's also a movie, and I don't think that a remake is necessary, by anybody. Nor do I think that it would be a good one, no matter who did it and directed it.

  89. mplo

    So what would happen in the event of a re-make of West Side Story? Would the original just sit on the shelf and not ever be shown again? That would be horrendous.

    No one is suggesting that would happen at all except for you. I don't want to speak for Spielberg, either, but I do not believe that is his intention either.

    How is this different from doing the revival of the stage production which translated the lyrics into Spanish? You can get the cast album of that, or you can get the original. I have both.

  90. I doubt a New West Side Story would be filmed in New York City at least not in Manhattan. Only the opening Prolouge was filmed in Manhattan, where Lincoln Center is today. It was filmed right before the existing buildings were torn down. They were already empty. Richard Beymer and Natalie Wood, who star as Tony and Maria were not filmed in NYC. They might be able to find places in the outer boroughs that look like Manhattan in the late 1950's if they want to. They could do what they did during the last Broadway revival where the Sharks spoke Spanish when among themselves. That said I don't see a need to remake a good movie. Remake a bad movie to improve it rather than a good movie. It would be difficult to tell the same story and have people think it is an improvement over the original. If you want to remake a musical remake Gypsy , Mame, or Brigadoon which were pretty poor films.

  91. Puerto Rican ancestry is far richer and more diverse than saying that Puerto Ricans come from Europe.

    In an era where both the island of Puerto Rico and people hailing from there are being marginilized – one needs to look no further than the lack of support the island has gotten post hurricane compared to other cities and states that did receive more support – the idea of a film that fully embraces Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans without resorting to white washing would be a major deal. Representation is important. Being recognized as part of the culture is important. As a white person, I can't imagine what it would be like to sit down to watch a film that's supposedly about my culture and my people, only to find out that none of the actors actually are of the background their characters are supposed to share. But I'm fortunate in that I have a lot of people in my life who don't fit into that neat little box, who have been able to explain, far more eloquently than I've done here, why it sucks to watch a movie about Puerto Ricans where only the white people are "good enough" to play the Puerto Ricans onscreen.

    If these issues aren't important to you, that's fine. But they are important to lots of people.

    The original film will remain as it always was. It's readily available for purchase on optical disc formats and streaming services. It's readily available to repertory theaters on DCP. It's been preserved by the Library of Congress. It's not going anywhere. If anything, a remake will bring increased attention to the original. It may also allow people to appreciate everything the original got right without feeling a need to bring up the casting.

    I just don't think it's particularly helpful to anyone in 2018 to have an attitude of "This story about Puerto Ricans must only survive as a 60+ year old film where the Puerto Ricans are played almost entirely by white people, and that portrayal can never, ever be updated or questioned or challenged, for any reason."

    All films are the product of the times they were made. There's nothing wrong with that. I'm not going to say West Side Story is a bad movie simply because it couldn't guess where we'd be decades later. It's simply a product of its time. But there's also no reason that a 1950s/1960s understanding of race and culture should be the only word ever spoken on the topic.

  92. Jake Lipson

    No one is suggesting that would happen at all except for you. I don't want to speak for Spielberg, either, but I do not believe that is his intention either.

    How is this different from doing the revival of the stage production which translated the lyrics into Spanish? You can get the cast album of that, or you can get the original. I have both.

    I saw the revised Broadway stage version of West Side Story 6.5 years ago at a theatre here in Boston, and there were things about it that I didn't like: Many of the really integral, vital aspects of West Side Story, such as the finger-snapping, the Jet gang whistles, and the message of reconciliation in the end were taken out of it, for example. There was also a rather obvious scene of Tony and Maria simulating sexual intercourse in Maria's bed, for example. I, my sister in law and my then 8 year old niece all attended a matinee of that production. There were lots of kids who looked to be twelve and under at that afternoon's production as well, which wasn't so great, either.

    As for myself, the idea of having the Sharks and their girls sing and speak in Spanish was an interesting idea, but it seemed really out of place, and didn't work that well. I also think that both the Sharks and the Jets looked like a bunch of suburban kids who were dressed to the nines for an evening of partying out on the town, rather than two warring street gangs. The Jets and Sharks in the 1961 film version looked way rougher and tougher than that.

  93. Garysb

    I doubt a New West Side Story would be filmed in New York City at least not in Manhattan. Only the opening Prolouge was filmed in Manhattan, where Lincoln Center is today. It was filmed right before the existing buildings were torn down. They were already empty. Richard Beymer and Natalie Wood, who star as Tony and Maria were not filmed in NYC. They might be able to find places in the outer boroughs that look like Manhattan in the late 1950's if they want to. They could do what they did during the last Broadway revival where the Sharks spoke Spanish when among themselves. That said I don't see a need to remake a good movie. Remake a bad movie to improve it rather than a good movie. It would be difficult to tell the same story and have people think it is an improvement over the original. If you want to remake a musical remake Gypsy , Mame, or Brigadoon which were pretty poor films.

    Thanks, Garysb. I never saw Gypsy, Mame, or Brigadoon on film (I did see a stage version of Brigadoon, however, which was pretty good.), but I see your point about possibly re-making Gypsy or Mame, even though I can't compare them with West Side Story due to not having seen them at all.

    Parts of West Side Story were filmed in Manhattan, including the Prologue/Jet Song, as well, and parts of it were filmed on a sound stage. The fact that West Side Story was preserved as a larger-than-lifesized piece of theatre when it was transferred from stage to screen is one of its strong points.

    I still don't think that it'll go over very well, but that's my take on it.

  94. mplo

    Given Hollywood's standards of today, and given certain things that are happening in real life, such as the proliferation of guns, rather than fisticuffs or switchblades, and the fact that there's much more explicit sex and nudity in Hollywood than there was back then, I think that a re-make of the film West Side Story would reflect that–all too well.

    West Side Story is set in the 1950s, and sort of has to be, because the Upper West Side it portrays no longer exists. So I would imagine that the fights would still primarily feature blades and fists. Most versions of the Romeo & Juliet story feature the star-crossed lovers physically consummating their relationship, so I wouldn't be surprised to see that alluded to here. But I highly doubt they'll be much of anything in the way of nudity; the MPAA ratings system penalizes it too harshly, and there's no way this is going to be released as an R-rated film.

    What's exciting to me — aside from the prospect of the Sharks being portrayed by a Puerto Rican cast — is all of the advances in filmmaking that have occurred since the original was made. Super Panavision 70 was still pretty new when West Side Story was made. The artforms of production design, cinematography, lighting, etc. have come a long way since the original movie was made.

    If that's what today's young people relate to, it's pathetic.

    It seems like you're conjuring a straw man, and then reacting to that — not what appears to be actually on the table.

    I only hope that the original West Side Story film would also play in movie theatres, and not just be available on TV, or on DVD's or Blu-Ray.

    As has been mentioned, West Side Story is a classic of cinema. It will continue to be brought back to theaters. The new adaptation might even raise its profile, and get a whole new generation of filmmakers interested in it.

    Hell, I would be happy if it brought enough attention to get the ball rolling on a 4K release that finally fixes the home video issues with the opening title sequence.

  95. mplo

    I still don't know why people are getting all excited about the idea of a re-make of the film West Side Story just because Steve Spielberg is at the helm, either.

    I'm not "all excited." In fact, I am pretty skeptical. Like I said, the original sets a very high bar. There's also not enough information on what they will be doing to get excited yet, because it's still in early development. But Spielberg is a great filmmaker, and I'm cautiously optimistic with him. He always brings a consistent level of quality filmmaking to his projects, so if someone is going to do this again, he's going to make a better movie than some other directors might. I do not like all of his films, but he is certainly a master of his craft; I can't think of one that was a complete trainwreck, because I don't think there are any.

    I just think it's very dangerous and narrow-minded to write off a project before we know anything at all about it.

    It might not work, in which case I will say so. I'm not saying that it will. But just assuming that because it's new means it will automatically suck is not really a level-headed view either.

    All we know about this film so far is that Spielberg wants to direct it and that Tony Kuschner is writing the script. Those are both high-quality names. So all I'm saying is, let's take a breath and step back and see what they do.

    mplo

    As for myself, the idea of having the Sharks and their girls sing and speak in Spanish was an interesting idea, but it seemed really out of place, and didn't work that well.

    Okay, so, you didn't like the execution of that particular production for the reasons that you stated. That's fair. But you yourself stated that the idea was interesting to you. What makes the film different? Why did you go see the Broadway revival, thinking it could be interesting, but Steven Spielberg is automatically not going to have an interesting idea about how to present this story?

    Furthermore, the next time a local theater in your area presents West Side Story, it would be their production of the material. Would you automatically decline to see that, too?

    I'm not trying to gang up on you here, and it's fine if you disagree, but I think this is an interesting and valuable discussion to have.

  96. Jake Lipson

    I'm not "all excited." In fact, I am pretty skeptical. Like I said, the original sets a very high bar. There's also not enough information on what they will be doing to get excited yet, because it's still in early development. But Spielberg is a great filmmaker, and I'm cautiously optimistic with him. He always brings a consistent level of quality filmmaking to his projects, so if someone is going to do this again, he's going to make a better movie than some other directors might. I do not like all of his films, but he is certainly a master of his craft; I can't think of one that was a complete trainwreck, because I don't think there are any.

    I just think it's very dangerous and narrow-minded to write off a project before we know anything at all about it.

    It might not work, in which case I will say so. I'm not saying that it will. But just assuming that because it's new means it will automatically suck is not really a level-headed view either.

    All we know about this film so far is that Spielberg wants to direct it and that Tony Kuschner is writing the script. Those are both high-quality names. So all I'm saying is, let's take a breath and step back and see what they do.

    I don't think it's dangerous at all to just say that I feel very strongly about it, and that I think that West Side Story is a film that should simply be left alone, because it is what it is. Not all of Steve Spielberg's films have been good. Jaws, for example, is sort of a junky cult movie, for example. I don't think West Side Story should be re-made by anybody, including Steve Spielberg.

  97. Moderator's Note:

    Several posts have been removed due to a discussion of a political nature.

    Since a new member has generated a bit of discussion on this topic, I will point out a section of the HTF's rulebook:

    4. No politics or religion. We do not permit the discussion of politics or religion at HTF. However, there is a narrow exception to this rule. If the subject matter of a movie or television show includes politics and/or religion, then they may be discussed insofar as they pertain to that specific movie or television show. We stress, however, that such discussions are carefully monitored and will be moderated if it appears that any participant is using this narrow exception to introduce a broader political or religious discussion than is warranted by the movie or television show under discussion. Also, anyone who has not seen a particular movie or television show is disqualified from discussing its political and/or religious content under this rule. Note: Posts by HTF staff including reviewers may on occasion be given wider discretion by site management.

  98. Adam Lenhardt

    West Side Story is set in the 1950s, and sort of has to be, because the Upper West Side it portrays no longer exists. So I would imagine that the fights would still primarily feature blades and fists. Most versions of the Romeo & Juliet story feature the star-crossed lovers physically consummating their relationship, so I wouldn't be surprised to see that alluded to here. But I highly doubt they'll be much of anything in the way of nudity; the MPAA ratings system penalizes it too harshly, and there's no way this is going to be released as an R-rated film.

    What's exciting to me — aside from the prospect of the Sharks being portrayed by a Puerto Rican cast — is all of the advances in filmmaking that have occurred since the original was made. Super Panavision 70 was still pretty new when West Side Story was made. The artforms of production design, cinematography, lighting, etc. have come a long way since the original movie was made.

    It seems like you're conjuring a straw man, and then reacting to that — not what appears to be actually on the table.

    As has been mentioned, West Side Story is a classic of cinema. It will continue to be brought back to theaters. The new adaptation might even raise its profile, and get a whole new generation of filmmakers interested in it.

    Hell, I would be happy if it brought enough attention to get the ball rolling on a 4K release that finally fixes the home video issues with the opening title sequence.

    To be truthful, I really don't like sitting home and watching movies on TV. I prefer to see them in the movie theatres, as they're really and truly meant to be viewed, instead on a DVD, Blu-Ray, or on TV, especially something like West Side Story or any other classics made during that period.

  99. Garysb

    They might be able to find places in the outer boroughs that look like Manhattan in the late 1950's if they want to.

    Yeah, if TV shows like Boardwalk Empire and The Deuce can recreate some of their 1920's and 1970's exteriors in modern day New York, Spielberg would be able to do it (if it's going to be a period piece).

  100. TravisR

    Yeah, if TV shows like Boardwalk Empire and The Deuce can recreate some of their 1920's and 1970's exteriors in modern day New York, Spielberg would be able to do it (if it's going to be a period piece).

    No matter what anybody says or thinks, it would still never be the same. I don't see why a great, golden oldie-but-keeper of a movie-musical such as West Side Story, or for that matter, any other classic film during that general period, should be re-made to fit today's standards, be they in real life, or in Hollywood.

  101. mplo

    No matter what anybody says or thinks, it would still never be the same. I don't see why a great, golden oldie-but-keeper of a movie-musical such as West Side Story, or for that matter, any other classic film during that general period, should be re-made to fit today's standards, be they in real life, or in Hollywood.

    I'm only saying that if they want to set the remake at the same time as the original movie, they can do it.

  102. mplo

    I don't think West Side Story should be re-made by anybody, including Steve Spielberg.

    I respect that you have strong feelings about it. I also understand that your opposition to a remake is not limited to Spielberg.

    What I am saying to you is that pre-judging it before anyone has been cast, or one single frame has been shot, or anything, is dangerous. It is right to be skeptical of it; I am too. But what if it ends up being really good? Wait for the cast list, or the set reports, or the trailer — I'm not saying that you have to see it, but I think that your steadfast opposition to it before anything has happened to it might cost you the opportunity to see a really good film, if that is what it ends up being.

    I also fail to see a differentiation between seeing a new stage production and seeing a new film, considering that they both represent the new interpretation of the source material of the people involved in that production/movie.

    The film is in the very, very, very beginning stages right now. Let's see what happens. That's all I'm trying to get across.

  103. On topic, meanwhile…

    mplo

    To be truthful, I really don't like sitting home and watching movies on TV. I prefer to see them in the movie theatres, as they're really and truly meant to be viewed, instead on a DVD, Blu-Ray, or on TV, especially something like West Side Story or any other classics made during that period.

    So a discussion forum whose entire raison d'etre is to promote the hobby of home theater seems like a good place to come and hang out? 😀

    Repeating constantly that you're against the remake isn't going to change anything. Apparently the bean counters think there is money to be made. The film will either be good, or it won't. And you can either enjoy it, or not. That's one of the wonderful things about subjectivity and a free society.

  104. TravisR

    I'm only saying that if they want to set the remake at the same time as the original movie, they can do it.

    I'm honestly not sure that would really work. More recent films that they've tried to set in earlier times haven't worked out that great.

  105. Jake Lipson

    I'm not "all excited." In fact, I am pretty skeptical. Like I said, the original sets a very high bar. There's also not enough information on what they will be doing to get excited yet, because it's still in early development. But Spielberg is a great filmmaker, and I'm cautiously optimistic with him. He always brings a consistent level of quality filmmaking to his projects, so if someone is going to do this again, he's going to make a better movie than some other directors might. I do not like all of his films, but he is certainly a master of his craft; I can't think of one that was a complete trainwreck, because I don't think there are any.

    I just think it's very dangerous and narrow-minded to write off a project before we know anything at all about it.

    It might not work, in which case I will say so. I'm not saying that it will. But just assuming that because it's new means it will automatically suck is not really a level-headed view either.

    All we know about this film so far is that Spielberg wants to direct it and that Tony Kuschner is writing the script. Those are both high-quality names. So all I'm saying is, let's take a breath and step back and see what they do.

    Okay, so, you didn't like the execution of that particular production for the reasons that you stated. That's fair. But you yourself stated that the idea was interesting to you. What makes the film different? Why did you go see the Broadway revival, thinking it could be interesting, but Steven Spielberg is automatically not going to have an interesting idea about how to present this story?

    Furthermore, the next time a local theater in your area presents West Side Story, it would be their production of the material. Would you automatically decline to see that, too?

    I'm not trying to gang up on you here, and it's fine if you disagree, but I think this is an interesting and valuable discussion to have.

  106. mplo

    To be truthful, I really don't like sitting home and watching movies on TV. I prefer to see them in the movie theatres, as they're really and truly meant to be viewed, instead on a DVD, Blu-Ray, or on TV, especially something like West Side Story or any other classics made during that period.

    I love the movie theater, too, and will go to classic films whenever I can. But that won't prevent me from watching them at home. Are you saying that you haven't seen West Side Story since its theatrical release? Depending on when a local repertory theater has shown it, that might be a very long time ago. You may be romanticizing it to a certain degree.

    I think it's a great film. I also think it's possible that they might make another great one. Or not. But we'll see.

  107. West Side Story happens to be a musical, with a certain amount of lightness to it, as musicals often tend to have, along with its darker side. A more up to date remake of the film West Side Story, by anybody, including Steve Spielberg, just might render it into less of a musical, and even more heavy-handed than it should be, due to today's Hollywood standards, and to what all too happens in real life. Even though musicals can and do have a darker aspect to them, they also have their lighter sides, as well, and West Side Story's no exception.

  108. Jake Lipson

    I love the movie theater, too, and will go to classic films whenever I can. But that won't prevent me from watching them at home. Are you saying that you haven't seen West Side Story since its theatrical release? Depending on when a local repertory theater has shown it, that might be a very long time ago. You may be romanticizing it to a certain degree.

    I think it's a great film. I also think it's possible that they might make another one. Or not. But we'll see.

    As a devout fan of the 1961 film version of West Side Story, I have seen several stage productions of the original Broadway stage production of West Side Story that I've liked a great deal (although not the one with Carol Lawrence and Larry Kept), but the revised, more up to date Broadway stage production of West Side Story was a production that I didn't like as much, due to the reasons that I stated earlier.

    I initially got introduced to West Side Story through the music of the original soundtrack of the original Broadway stage production, back in the summer of 1962, prior to my entering the sixth grade, while attending day camp out West, in Tucson, AZ.

    Another girl in the group I was with who'd just received an LP album of the soundtrack to the original Broadway stage production of West Side Story as a birthday present brought it to day camp one morning and played it for the rest of the group. My love for the music and the story behind West Side Story took off instantly, although I didn't get to see the movie until more than six years later, as a high school Senior.

  109. TJPC

    Remakes made sense in the old studio days when the original was locked away in the vault after showing for a month. Today, with home video, if I want to see any of these again, I just take one off the shelf. What is the incentive to go to the movie theatre?

    Because seeing a great, golden oldie-but-keeper of a classic film on a great big, wide screen, in a real movie theatre, with the lights down low, as it's really and truly meant to be viewed is the very best way to see these great classic films. Seeing them even on a great big TV, with or without an expensive home theatre system just detracts from them, plus there are often too many distractions around the house, to boot.

  110. Worth

    Maybe Criterion will release a version. I think they released it on laserdisc.

    Laserdisc? What good is a laserdisc version if one doesn't have a set up for it? I don't like sitting at home watching movies, unlike most people. Thanks.

  111. mplo

    Because seeing a great, golden oldie-but-keeper of a classic film on a great big, wide screen, in a real movie theatre, with the lights down low, as it's really and truly meant to be viewed is the very best way to see these great classic films. Seeing them even on a great big TV, with or without an expensive home theatre system just detracts from them, plus there are often too many distractions around the house, to boot.

    There are many here who LOVE nothing more than to go to the movie theater.

    There are also many who will want to take exception to your statement and respond that it is at home where one can find a minimum of distractions as opposed to today's movie theaters.

    But please keep in mind that this forum is here for the simple purposes of giving fans of the home theater hobby a place to discuss all that goes into the experience. To cast HT in a negative light will only prompt off-topic rebuttals and serves to emulate trollish behavior and threaten to take the discussion off-topic.

    mplo

    Laserdisc? What good is a laserdisc version if one doesn't have a set up for it? I don't like sitting at home watching movies, unlike most people. Thanks.

    You realize that Worth didn't say a new laserdisc release would be forthcoming, right? He was talking about the possibility that maybe Criterion would issue a new release of WSS on a contemporary disc format.

  112. Chelsearicky

    George Chakiris, Gus Trikonis, Larry Roquemore, Jamie Rogers ,Eddie Verso, Suzy Kaye et al were ALL made u to look Puerto Rican. Just as Rita Moreno was made up to look Asian for "The King and I', in which she also had her vocals dubbed (and which she conveniently leaves out of the conversation when criticizing Wood's casting).

    As I did point out earlier, quite afew of the people who played the Sharks did have Spanish last names.

  113. PMF

    Harrison Ford as Bernstein, perhaps?
    West Side Spielberg, indeed.
    Rather than a re-make, I'd rather see a portion of their monies going towards a primo Restoration.

    I agree with you 100%, PMF. I'd also prefer to see the original 1961 film version of West Side Story undergo a real primo restoration, and to get a huge national re-release of this restored, remastered version of the original 1961 film version of West Side Story into movie theatres, both big and small, throughout the United States. That, imho, would be the coolest thing of all!

  114. Josh Steinberg

    The fact is, for everything that West Side Story does do well…

    It's still a film where the leading characters are essentially being played by white actors wearing a version of blackface.

    And while I can view the film in the context of the time that it was made, I'm also very much in favor of having another version of the story being put on record with more racially appropriate casting. If the whole point of the story is that love can transcend boundaries, then there must be a boundary that it transcends.

    I don't think that Robert Wise and Co set out to make something that would be racially insensitive or offensive. I think they made the best film that they could in the time they made it.

    But I also think there's room in the world for a version of West Side Story where Maria is played by someone who actually looks and sounds Puerto Rican. I think the representation matters. There's also the unintentional subtext of having Maria played by a white girl and Anita played by someone who is Puerto Rican – it unintentionally suggests that Maria (played by a white actress) is okay for a white man to date, but that Anita (played by a Puerto Rican actress) is not okay for a white man to date.

    And look, I don't think that Robert Wise set out to make that statement. But just in the way that we now reevaluate classics like Gone With The Wind and The Birth Of A Nation, accepting their filmmaking genius while seeking to put their problematic historical views in context, I think a similar reevaluation of West Side Story is probably overdue.

    Fortunately, the original West Side Story will always exist and be available to us. The making of a new version doesn't diminish the original in any way. If anything, it frees the original from the weight of having to be appropriate to our values and standards in 2018.

    Part of real story of West Side Story is that Maria, the sister of the Shark gang leader, Bernardo, and Tony, a white ex-Jet gang leader of Polish heritage, met and fell in love at a big dance that was held at a local gym, while Anita, who was Bernardo's girlfriend and Maria's closest friend, was in love with Bernardo, simply because she preferred Bernardo. That's just how it happened, in both the stage play and the film version of West Side Story.

  115. PLEASE…stop quoting every old post in this thread as an opportunity to restate your unchanging, unvarying opinion that you think a Spielberg remake is a bad idea. .

    None of this is moving the discussion forward. It only serves to add volume to the same repeated point over and over.

    Continue at the risk of losing posting privileges.

  116. Mike Frezon

    PLEASE…stop quoting every old post in this thread as an opportunity to restate your unchanging, unvarying opinion that you think a Spielberg remake is a bad idea. .

    None of this is moving the discussion forward. It only serves to add volume to the same repeated point over and over.

    Continue at the risk of losing posting privileges.

    My options are not against Steven Spielberg per se, especially since he's done some really awesome films. I'm strongly against a re-make of the film West Side Story….period, regardless of who's at the helm..

  117. Mike Frezon

    On topic, meanwhile…

    So a discussion forum whose entire raison d'etre is to promote the hobby of home theater seems like a good place to come and hang out? 😀

    Repeating constantly that you're against the remake isn't going to change anything. Apparently the bean counters think there is money to be made. The film will either be good, or it won't. And you can either enjoy it, or not. That's one of the wonderful things about subjectivity and a free society.

    Anybody who wishes to have a home theatre system has the right to do so. Because I reside in a city that's rather close to the movie theatres that I like to patronize on a fairly regular basis, it's a lot easier for me to go to a movie theatre. If I lived out in the suburbs or the boonies, where there wasn't easy access to public transportation in lousy weather, or didn't have the kind of movie theatres that show movies that I really like a great deal, I might well invest in a home theatre system myself. But I am where I am, and I love it a lot.

  118. mplo

    Anybody who wishes to have a home theatre system has the right to do so. Because I reside in a city that's rather close to the movie theatres that I like to patronize on a fairly regular basis, it's a lot easier for me to go to a movie theatre. If I lived out in the suburbs or the boonies, where there wasn't easy access to public transportation in lousy weather, or didn't have the kind of movie theatres that show movies that I really like a great deal, I might well invest in a home theatre system myself. But I am where I am, and I love it a lot.

    You are now changing your argument.

    It's a totally different thing to say that you go to see movies in theaters because it is convenient to you rather than because seeing them in a home environment detracts from their presentation.

    The entire purpose of the HTF is to advocate for the best possible home presentation of cinema at home.

  119. Now that "West Side Story" on laserdisc has come up, I am reminded of Roy Frumkes' all-time classic article about watching Criterion's CAV laserdisc, from the Spring 1990 issue of The Perfect Vision. It's kind of a movie review, kind of a State-of-the-Laserdisc-Art address, and kind of a screwball comedy (three of Roy's friends come over to watch the laserdisc; hilarity ensues). In 2018, as something from my personal home video magazine time capsule, it's a delightful reminder of how far home video has (and hasn't) come. I can't find it online, though I was saddened to learn that the great Harry Pearson passed away in 2014 (RIP King of Sea Cliff), but I can always scan the 8 pages and post them here, if anybody's interested.

  120. mplo

    A more up to date remake of the film West Side Story, by anybody, including Steve Spielberg, just might render it into less of a musical, and even more heavy-handed than it should be.

    You're right. It might.

    But "might" works both ways, because it also might not.

    We do not currently have enough information about this project to make any informed judgments either way. All we know for sure that Spielberg is interested in making it from a script Tony Kuschner is writing. We do not know what their ideas are or what their approach will be, because they are not far enough along to have made anything else about it public.

    However, if Spielberg commits to doing something, he can usually do what he wants. Therefore, while you are entitled to your own opinion, I personally feel, at this point, that harping on the negative possibility doesn't do anyone any good. So we might as well take a breath and wait until we have something more concrete to judge.

    Also, the fact that you saw multiple different productions of West Side Story on stage, which were certainly not all exactly the same, means you have experienced different interpretations of this story before. Of course, it is natural to have preferences and to like some performances better than other performances. But I still don't understand why you went to the theatre for multiple different stage productions if you simply wanted to watch the film.

    Why is a potential film remake different in principle than going to see a new stage production of the show with different actors and direction and creative talent behind the scenes? In both cases, you're looking at a new interpretation of old material, and it may be good, or it may not be. So I'm failing to understand why you view one as automatically a terrible idea and one as something that you welcome.

    I would also like to make clear that, even though I have disagreed with most of your points so far, I am always happy to see new members and bid you a warm welcome to the forum and look forward to future discussions with you. However, as Mike said, the primary focus of the forum is to discuss movies and their presentation in the home. Lots of us also love going to the movie theater, myself included. But our mutual interest in Blu-ray and other home viewing formats is what attracted most of us to this particular forum. If you're not into that, that's cool; just know that you'd be in the significant minority around here if indeed that is not one of your passions.

  121. mplo

    I agree with you 100%, PMF. I'd also prefer to see the original 1961 film version of West Side Story undergo a real primo restoration, and to get a huge national re-release of this restored, remastered version of the original 1961 film version of West Side Story into movie theatres, both big and small, throughout the United States. That, imho, would be the coolest thing of all!

    And the 6 people in the audience would love it!

  122. I Have zero issues with Spielberg remaking West SIde Story because the original is there untouched in all its glory for all to enjoy. If you’re not interested in a remake don’t go see it.

    Simple isn’t it?

  123. Please allow me an alternative point of view to the previous poster:

    Yes, the original film of WEST SIDE STORY will continue to exist and may or may not in time once more become the only version anyone cares about, superceding the new one which, as yet, does not exist and therefore cannot be evaluated.

    Those of us who do not welcome a new version believe it to be a pointless exercise as the 1961 version deeply involved most of the people who originated the stage production upon which it was based. We see making a new one as a cynical and spurious move in order to possibly make money.

    However, anything different that is brought to the remake will subvert the integrity of the original which is exactly as the creators wanted it. The mass cinema audience comprising the very young won't be interested as the entire concept is rooted in the late fifties and early sixties. Whatever is 'developed' or 'brought up to date' or presented in 'a new and radical manner' won't be WEST SIDE STORY.

    I'm surprised at Mr Spielberg's involvment and slightly reassured that because of his qualities it won't be a product of current attention disorder cinema techniques.

    I'll wait for the reviews before questioning my belief that it is an unwelcome waste of effort.

  124. Malcolm:

    How could a remake "subvert the integrity of the original?" I'm not sure how I understand that a different version somehow undermines a separate one. I tend to see them as two separate entities.

  125. I'm a horror movie fan so I've seen nearly everything from legitimate classics to garbage from the 1970's and 80's get remade and some have been bad & some have been good but absolutely none of them did a thing to change the original. If anything, the remakes have shined a spotlight on the original and gotten more people to see it or see it again.

  126. Mike Frezon

    Malcolm:

    How could a remake "subvert the integrity of the original?" I'm not sure how I understand that a different version somehow undermines a separate one. I tend to see them as two separate entities.

    Of course they are. NOTHING can subvert the integrity of the original. What a strange statement. Again don’t see if if you’re not interested.

    And also of course it’s to make money. It’s show BUSINESS after all. Jeez.

  127. Malcolm Bmoor

    …The mass cinema audience comprising the very young won't be interested as the entire concept is rooted in the late fifties and early sixties. Whatever is 'developed' or 'brought up to date' or presented in 'a new and radical manner' won't be WEST SIDE STORY..

    Maybe I've missed something, but there doesn't seem to be any indication that the remake is going to be an updated version set in the present. I can't really imagine a contemporary West Side Story working at all – not as a musical, anyway – and given Spielberg's previous work, I doubt that's where his interest lies.

  128. Worth

    Maybe I've missed something, but there doesn't seem to be any indication that the remake is going to be an updated version set in the present.

    No, you haven't missed anything. Literally all we know for sure is that Spielberg wants to direct and Tony Kuschner is writing. That's it at this point.

    Everything else as of right now is guesswork.

  129. Tino

    I Have zero issues with Spielberg remaking West SIde Story because the original is there untouched in all its glory for all to enjoy. If you’re not interested in a remake don’t go see it.

    Simple isn’t it?

    The thing that I worry about is the possibility that the original 1961 film version of West Side Story will go down into the dustbin of history, never to be available to be shown in movie theatres again, and that would bother me a great deal. I'm just being honest, here. I have resisted getting a Blu-Ray DVD Player, as well as Blu-Ray DVDs. precisely because I prefer seeing great, golden oldie-but-keeper classic films (and films, in general) on a great big, wide screen, in real movie theatres, with the lights down low, and a large audience to share the experience with, whether I know them or not. Thanks for understanding where I'm coming from, however. I'm more of a stick in the mud when it comes to re-makes, but that's me, I guess.

  130. Jake Lipson

    You're right. It might.

    But "might" works both ways, because it also might not.

    We do not currently have enough information about this project to make any informed judgments either way. All we know for sure that Spielberg is interested in making it from a script Tony Kuschner is writing. We do not know what their ideas are or what their approach will be, because they are not far enough along to have made anything else about it public.

    However, if Spielberg commits to doing something, he can usually do what he wants. Therefore, while you are entitled to your own opinion, I personally feel, at this point, that harping on the negative possibility doesn't do anyone any good. So we might as well take a breath and wait until we have something more concrete to judge.

    Also, the fact that you saw multiple different productions of West Side Story on stage, which were certainly not all exactly the same, means you have experienced different interpretations of this story before. Of course, it is natural to have preferences and to like some performances better than other performances. But I still don't understand why you went to the theatre for multiple different stage productions if you simply wanted to watch the film.

    Why is a potential film remake different in principle than going to see a new stage production of the show with different actors and direction and creative talent behind the scenes? In both cases, you're looking at a new interpretation of old material, and it may be good, or it may not be. So I'm failing to understand why you view one as automatically a terrible idea and one as something that you welcome.

    I would also like to make clear that, even though I have disagreed with most of your points so far, I am always happy to see new members and bid you a warm welcome to the forum and look forward to future discussions with you. However, as Mike said, the primary focus of the forum is to discuss movies and their presentation in the home. Lots of us also love going to the movie theater, myself included. But our mutual interest in Blu-ray and other home viewing formats is what attracted most of us to this particular forum. If you're not into that, that's cool; just know that you'd be in the significant minority around here if indeed that is not one of your passions.

    Film and live theatre on stage are very different mediums. If I'm a significant minority around here due to my not being into home theatres/ and Blue-Ray, etc., it doesn't bother me. To be truthful, I'm

    TJPC

    And the 6 people in the audience would love it!

    Mike Frezon

    There are many here who LOVE nothing more than to go to the movie theater.

    There are also many who will want to take exception to your statement and respond that it is at home where one can find a minimum of distractions as opposed to today's movie theaters.

    But please keep in mind that this forum is here for the simple purposes of giving fans of the home theater hobby a place to discuss all that goes into the experience. To cast HT in a negative light will only prompt off-topic rebuttals and serves to emulate trollish behavior and threaten to take the discussion off-topic.

    You realize that Worth didn't say a new laserdisc release would be forthcoming, right? He was talking about the possibility that maybe Criterion would issue a new release of WSS on a contemporary disc format.

    I have a different approach/opinion on this matter. I'm used to sticking out like a sore thumb.

  131. mplo

    The thing that I worry about is the possibility that the original 1961 film version of West Side Story will go down into the dustbin of history, never to be available to be shown in movie theatres again, and that would bother me a great deal.

    That will not happen. As many people have pointed out, if anything, the remake will encourage more people to see the original again. It is readily available for home viewing, is available for theaters wishing to screen it, and is in the National Film Registry preserved by the Library of Congress. It's not going anywhere.

    mplo

    I have resisted getting a Blu-Ray DVD Player, as well as Blu-Ray DVDs

    What drew you to the Home Theater Forum if you aren't interested in home media? I'm not trying to be mean here. This is a serious question.

    Also, you speak as though it is possible to simply see West Side Story in a movie theater whenever you want. While I love seeing old films on the big screen on the occasion that my theater brings them back, what do you do if you want to watch it and no movie theater near you has a screening soon?

  132. Malcolm Bmoor

    Please allow me an alternative point of view to the previous poster:

    Yes, the original film of WEST SIDE STORY will continue to exist and may or may not in time once more become the only version anyone cares about, superceding the new one which, as yet, does not exist and therefore cannot be evaluated.

    Those of us who do not welcome a new version believe it to be a pointless exercise as the 1961 version deeply involved most of the people who originated the stage production upon which it was based. We see making a new one as a cynical and spurious move in order to possibly make money.

    However, anything different that is brought to the remake will subvert the integrity of the original which is exactly as the creators wanted it. The mass cinema audience comprising the very young won't be interested as the entire concept is rooted in the late fifties and early sixties. Whatever is 'developed' or 'brought up to date' or presented in 'a new and radical manner' won't be WEST SIDE STORY.

    I'm surprised at Mr Spielberg's involvment and slightly reassured that because of his qualities it won't be a product of current attention disorder cinema techniques.

    I'll wait for the reviews before questioning my belief that it is an unwelcome waste of effort.

    To each their own, but I personally do not see anything so great about subverting the integrity of the original film, especially if it's something like West Side Story. That is another thing that really bothers me no end about doing a re-make of such a great, golden oldie-but-keeper of a classic film, and I feel that I'm well within my rights to say so, whether other people agree with me or not.

  133. Jake Lipson

    That will not happen. As many people have pointed out, if anything, the remake will encourage more people to see the original again. It is readily available for home viewing, is available for theaters wishing to screen it, and is in the National Film Registry preserved by the Library of Congress. It's not going anywhere.

    What drew you to the Home Theater Forum if you aren't interested in home media? I'm not trying to be mean here. This is a serious question.

    Also, you speak as though it is possible to simply see West Side Story in a movie theater whenever you want. While I love seeing old films on the big screen on the occasion that my theater brings them back, what do you do if you want to watch it and no movie theater near you has a screening soon?

    I'll also add this, Jake Lipson: I've even made special road trips to the opposite end of the Bay State, as well as to neighboring states specially to view screenings of the original 1961 film West Side Story. As long as they're within reasonable driving distance from where I live, it's okay. I wouldn't fly to a different region of the country specially to see a screening of West Side Story. I may be crazy, but I'm not that crazy!

  134. Worth

    Maybe I've missed something, but there doesn't seem to be any indication that the remake is going to be an updated version set in the present. I can't really imagine a contemporary West Side Story working at all – not as a musical, anyway – and given Spielberg's previous work, I doubt that's where his interest lies.

    Here's another point, Worth: It would be way too much to ask of today's Hollywood, or anybody affiliated with Hollywood these days to re-make a film that came out so long ago and still set the story back in that particular time, if one gets the drift. It would come off as much more contemporary, anyhow.

  135. You're free to think that way, but the original film is not going anywhere so I don't see how a remake can have any effect on an earlier film if that film still exists in its original form.

    To me, "subverting the integrity of the original" is more like George Lucas and the Special Editions of SW, and his subsequent denial to ever again allow the original versions to be released to fans. Or Steven Spielberg and his replacement of guns with walkie-talkies for the re-release of E.T. Those are examples of creators actually modifying the original films in a way that damages the integrity of the original films for those that grew up with them and, in the case of SW, trying to suppress the original films.

    No one is proposing that someone make changes/edits to the original version of WSS, or remove it from circulation, so I'm not sure how the original can ever be subverted when it's still freely available in its original form.

  136. None of that answers my question: what do you do if you cannot find a screening within reasonable driving distance? And if you don't care about the presentation of films in-home, what prompted you to join our forum?

    You are entitled to your opinion, as I've said before. But you are simply restating your point over and over again instead of engaging in discussion.

    This thread will continue to exist for those of us who wish to discuss the remake film and track its development. If you don't, that's fine. But I do.

    That being said, I'm done having this circular argument with you and am withdrawing from further posts on this particular matter.

  137. Jake Lipson

    That will not happen. As many people have pointed out, if anything, the remake will encourage more people to see the original again. It is readily available for home viewing, is available for theaters wishing to screen it, and is in the National Film Registry preserved by the Library of Congress. It's not going anywhere.

    What drew you to the Home Theater Forum if you aren't interested in home media? I'm not trying to be mean here. This is a serious question.

    Also, you speak as though it is possible to simply see West Side Story in a movie theater whenever you want. While I love seeing old films on the big screen on the occasion that my theater brings them back, what do you do if you want to watch it and no movie theater near you has a screening soon?

    I just look for screenings of the film West Side Story that are either being screened in a movie theater in a neighboring state, or even at the opposite end of the state in which I reside.

  138. Chelsearicky

    George Chakiris, Gus Trikonis, Larry Roquemore, Jamie Rogers ,Eddie Verso, Suzy Kaye et al were ALL made u to look Puerto Rican. Just as Rita Moreno was made up to look Asian for "The King and I', in which she also had her vocals dubbed (and which she conveniently leaves out of the conversation when criticizing Wood's casting).

    Rudy Del Campo, who also starred as the Shark gang member, Del Campo, was also of Latin heritage.

  139. Josh Steinberg

    I'm not really sure why you're arguing this particular point, particularly since I'm stating my opinion for why I think a remake could do some good.

    Having the Puerto Rican lead played by a while person of European descent is problematic casting for a 2018 audience.

    I believe in 2018, we can do better. And I believe that the symbolism behind a change towards more racially appropriate casting has the potential to do a lot of good.

    Another thing that bothers me is the fact that I'm clearly not open-minded enough for you guys, just simply because I've got my own opinion and didn't hesitate to disclose it.

  140. Malcolm R

    You're free to think that way, but the original film is not going anywhere so I don't see how a remake can have any effect on an earlier film if that film still exists in its original form.

    To me, "subverting the integrity of the original" is more like George Lucas and the Special Editions of SW, and his subsequent denial to ever again allow the original versions to be released to fans. Or Steven Spielberg and his replacement of guns with walkie-talkies for the re-release of E.T. Those are examples of creators actually modifying the original films in a way that damages the integrity of the original films for those that grew up with them and, in the case of SW, trying to suppress the original films.

    No one is proposing that someone make changes/edits to the original version of WSS, or remove it from circulation, so I'm not sure how the original can ever be subverted when it's still freely available in its original form.

    What I don't like is the possibility of the original 1961 film West Side Story never being available for showing again, except on TV, or on Blu-RAy DVD, or anything like that. A good, decent Blu-Ray DVD can be extremely expensive, and Blu-Ray DVD's themselves don't work if one attempts to play them on a regular DVD. People will argue that one can get them for cheaper, but cheaper ones, unfortunately, have more tendency to break down, especially because they're often made overseas, with crappy technology, in countries that have neither the technical know-how, or the materials to make decent merchandise.

    Also, as I've pointed out, the experience of seeing great original old classic films in real movie theatres is much, much more satisfying to me than sitting at home watching them on a big TV or whatever.

  141. mplo

    What I don't like is the possibility of the original 1961 film West Side Story never being available for showing again, except on TV, or on Blu-RAy DVD, or anything like that. A good, decent Blu-Ray DVD can be extremely expensive, and Blu-Ray DVD's themselves don't work if one attempts to play them on a regular DVD. People will argue that one can get them for cheaper, but cheaper ones, unfortunately, have more tendency to break down, especially because they're often made overseas, with crappy technology, in countries that have neither the technical know-how, or the materials to make decent merchandise.

    Also, as I've pointed out, the experience of seeing great original old classic films in real movie theatres is much, much more satisfying to me than sitting at home watching them on a big TV or whatever.

    I meant that good, decently made Blu-Ray DVD players are often prohibitively expensive, cheaper ones are more likely to break down, and Blu-Ray DVD's don't work if one attempts to play them on regular DVD players.

  142. mplo

    Another thing that bothers me is the fact that I'm clearly not open-minded enough for you guys, just simply because I've got my own opinion and didn't hesitate to disclose it.

    Dude. Relax. We all have our opinions and trust me we don’t hesitate to express them.

    No offense but It sounds as though you’re just not listening to what is being said. You’re set in your opinion and that’s that. We’re here to discuss. You just sound very argumentative. Big difference.

  143. TJPC

    And the 6 people in the audience would love it!

    Who's to say that there'd be only a mere six people in the audience if any movie theatre(s) showed a really pristine restoration of the original 1961 film West Side Story?

  144. Tino

    Dude. Relax. We all have our opinions and trust me we don’t hesitate to express them.

    No offense but It sounds as though you’re just not listening to what is being said. You’re set in your opinion and that’s that. We’re here to discuss. You just sound very argumentative. Big difference.

    I hear everything else that's being said on here, but I'm much more pessimistic, and have more doubt that a re-make of the film West Side Story, by anyone, including Spielberg, would really work. Look how the re-makes of Psycho and Planet of the Apes turned out, for example. Not well, and they each lasted less than a month in the theatres.

  145. mplo

    I hear everything else that's being said on here, but I'm much more pessimistic, and have more doubt that a re-make of the film West Side Story, by anyone, including Spielberg, would really work. Look how the re-makes of Psycho and Planet of the Apes turned out, for example. Not well, and they each lasted less than a month in the theatres.

    Yeah. And?? So what? What effect did those films have on the originals?? None whatsoever.

  146. mplo

    I meant that good, decently made Blu-Ray DVD players are often prohibitively expensive, cheaper ones are more likely to break down, and Blu-Ray DVD's don't work if one attempts to play them on regular DVD players.

    You've been asked to stop quoting big blocks of your own content in your reply. You continue to do so. Next time get's a vacation. Thanks.

    Edited to add: I've had to come here in response to the drama you've been causing, honestly I don't care one way or the other about the remake, but I'd like to note this. Everything you have put in your reply I have quoted above is ridiculously wrong or silly. Of course Blurays don't play in DVD players. Cassettes don't play in 8 track players either. Methinks thou doth protest too much.

  147. Apparently Spielberg is now developing the DC property Blackhawk for WB with an eye toward directing it.

    I bring this up in here because it's unclear what this means for West Side Story's development. Both Variety and Deadline say that his next two films are Indiana Jones and West Side Story, but I'm not sure if they got that from a Spielberg statement or if they're just assuming that is the case because those are the two projects of hiss they've been covering lately.

    There have been a number of movies over the past few years that he has announced his intention to direct and spent time developing but then stepped away from.

    We'll see what he does next when he does it, I suppose.

  148. Sam Posten

    You've been asked to stop quoting big blocks of your own content in your reply. You continue to do so. Next time get's a vacation. Thanks.

    Edited to add: I've had to come here in response to the drama you've been causing, honestly I don't care one way or the other about the remake, but I'd like to note this. Everything you have put in your reply I have quoted above is ridiculously wrong or silly. Of course Blurays don't play in DVD players. Cassettes don't play in 8 track players either. Methinks thou doth protest too much.

    I feel that I'm just as entitled to express my own opinion as anybody else on this forum, despite the fact that I have a different viewpoint. That's all I'm saying.

  149. Tino

    Dude. Relax. We all have our opinions and trust me we don’t hesitate to express them.

    No offense but It sounds as though you’re just not listening to what is being said. You’re set in your opinion and that’s that. We’re here to discuss. You just sound very argumentative. Big difference.

    I hear what's being said…perfectly, but I just don't agree, that's all.

  150. Jake Lipson

    Natalie Wood was a white woman. Casting her was not consistent with the ethnicity of the character, which is the issue Josh is raising.

    So what if Natalie Wood was a white woman? That, to me, doesn't matter.

  151. TravisR

    I'm only saying that if they want to set the remake at the same time as the original movie, they can do it.

    Pretty much every time they've made, or re-made movies whose stories are set during a much, much earlier period, it hasn't worked out, really. Ever heard of the movie "Billy Jack"? It was set during the late-1960's, during the hippie-flower-child era, and it really didn't work out that great.

  152. Jake Lipson

    I'm not "all excited." In fact, I am pretty skeptical. Like I said, the original sets a very high bar. There's also not enough information on what they will be doing to get excited yet, because it's still in early development. But Spielberg is a great filmmaker, and I'm cautiously optimistic with him. He always brings a consistent level of quality filmmaking to his projects, so if someone is going to do this again, he's going to make a better movie than some other directors might. I do not like all of his films, but he is certainly a master of his craft; I can't think of one that was a complete trainwreck, because I don't think there are any.

    I just think it's very dangerous and narrow-minded to write off a project before we know anything at all about it.

    It might not work, in which case I will say so. I'm not saying that it will. But just assuming that because it's new means it will automatically suck is not really a level-headed view either.

    All we know about this film so far is that Spielberg wants to direct it and that Tony Kuschner is writing the script. Those are both high-quality names. So all I'm saying is, let's take a breath and step back and see what they do.

    Okay, so, you didn't like the execution of that particular production for the reasons that you stated. That's fair. But you yourself stated that the idea was interesting to you. What makes the film different? Why did you go see the Broadway revival, thinking it could be interesting, but Steven Spielberg is automatically not going to have an interesting idea about how to present this story?

    Furthermore, the next time a local theater in your area presents West Side Story, it would be their production of the material. Would you automatically decline to see that, too?

    I'm not trying to gang up on you here, and it's fine if you disagree, but I think this is an interesting and valuable discussion to have.

    Tony Kushner's writing a new script for the upcoming West Side Story re-make. That fact, alone, indicates that the re-make of the 1961 film West Side Story is going to be rendered into something much more up to date.

  153. Jake Lipson

    I'm not "all excited." In fact, I am pretty skeptical. Like I said, the original sets a very high bar. There's also not enough information on what they will be doing to get excited yet, because it's still in early development. But Spielberg is a great filmmaker, and I'm cautiously optimistic with him. He always brings a consistent level of quality filmmaking to his projects, so if someone is going to do this again, he's going to make a better movie than some other directors might. I do not like all of his films, but he is certainly a master of his craft; I can't think of one that was a complete trainwreck, because I don't think there are any.

    I just think it's very dangerous and narrow-minded to write off a project before we know anything at all about it.

    It might not work, in which case I will say so. I'm not saying that it will. But just assuming that because it's new means it will automatically suck is not really a level-headed view either.

    All we know about this film so far is that Spielberg wants to direct it and that Tony Kuschner is writing the script. Those are both high-quality names. So all I'm saying is, let's take a breath and step back and see what they do.

    Okay, so, you didn't like the execution of that particular production for the reasons that you stated. That's fair. But you yourself stated that the idea was interesting to you. What makes the film different? Why did you go see the Broadway revival, thinking it could be interesting, but Steven Spielberg is automatically not going to have an interesting idea about how to present this story?

    Furthermore, the next time a local theater in your area presents West Side Story, it would be their production of the material. Would you automatically decline to see that, too?

    I'm not trying to gang up on you here, and it's fine if you disagree, but I think this is an interesting and valuable discussion to have.

    I had seen a number of stage productions of the original Broadway stage version of West Side Story that I liked a great deal (although not the Broadway stage production with Larry Kart and Carol Lawrence in it.), before the more up-to-date Broadway stage revival of West Side Story came out. I was curious about the revived Broadway stage version. With West Side Story being West Side Story, I largely enjoyed it, but, as I pointed out on other posts, there were a number of things about this latest up-to-date Broadway stage production of West Side Story that I felt detracted from the story a great deal, because many of the most vital and integral parts of the very story behind WSS itself, had been taken out of it, plus it was way over-emotional, and the voice of the young woman

    Tino

    What exactly is it you don’t you agree with Ma’am? I honestly can’t tell. :unsure:

    The fact that the Jet gang whistles, the finger-snapping and the message of reconciliation that occurs in both the original Broadway stage version and the film version of West Side Story, the fact that Tony's singing voice was somewhat forced, and the vibratoes were too slow and wide, and because of the fact that the Spanish seemed kind of out of place and didn't seem to work. I also think that the singing voice of the young woman who played Maria in the revised Broadway stage production was too shrill, and the fact that this production had Tony and Maria actually simulating copulation in the bed was also a turn off for me.

  154. mplo

    I feel that I'm just as entitled to express my own opinion as anybody else on this forum, despite the fact that I have a different viewpoint. That's all I'm saying.

    Of course you have a right to your opinion. This would be a mighty dull forum without opinions and information sharing. But you are not listening to others and continue to repeat yourself without adding anything new.

    mplo

    Pretty much every time they've made, or re-made movies whose stories are set during a much, much earlier period, it hasn't worked out, really. Ever heard of the movie "Billy Jack"? It was set during the late-1960's, during the hippie-flower-child era, and it really didn't work out that great.

    Is this a joke? You can't think of a movie set in an earlier time period which was "successful?" Not one? Not even something like Gone With the Wind…or Citizen Kane? And your example to prove this is Billy Jack?

    Mike Frezon

    PLEASE…stop quoting every old post in this thread as an opportunity to restate your unchanging, unvarying opinion that you think a Spielberg remake is a bad idea. .

    None of this is moving the discussion forward. It only serves to add volume to the same repeated point over and over.

    Continue at the risk of losing posting privileges.

    This hasn't changed. You are trying our patience.

    It also wouldn't hurt you to read our rules as they pertain to posting.

  155. mplo

    So what if Natalie Wood was a white woman? That, to me, doesn't matter.

    Josh and I both explained this thoroughly in our previous posts, but here we are again.

    It matters because the character is not white, and the story itself is fundamentally ABOUT race. Do you really not see how that might be considered problematic to some people, especially those who actually are members of the race being depicted by someone who is not one of them?

    It didn't matter to the producers in 1960 because the cultural norms of that time were not in tune with where we are today regarding inclusiveness and representation in the industry. But nowadays we have an obligation to do better. No one is taking anything away from the quality of Natalie Wood's performance, but we now have the opportunity to do a more progressive, ethnically inclusive version of the story. I don't think that can be easily dismissed.

  156. mplo

    there were a number of things about this latest up-to-date Broadway stage production of West Side Story that I felt detracted from the story a great deal, because many of the most vital and integral parts of the very story behind WSS itself, had been taken out of it

    You realize, don't you, that the text of the show was not changed? Some of the words and lyrics for Spanish-speaking characters were translated from English into Spanish (with the blessing of Stephen Sondheim, the original lyricist.) However, they did not make any changes to the content of the show's book — only the language in which some of those things were being expressed. The production was also directed by Arthur Laurents, one of the show's authors.

    It's perfectly fine not to like it, but to suggest that substantial changes were made to the content of the book is simply wrong. Textually, there is no difference between the 2009 revival and any other production of the show, with the exception of the Spanish-language translations of some of the original lyrics. And they were translations, not newly-authored replacement lyrics. Although, since Sondheim is not very fond of his lyrics for that show, he might not have cared about alterations. But that's not what they were, in any case.

    mplo

    Tony Kushner's writing a new script for the upcoming West Side Story re-make. That fact, alone, indicates that the re-make of the 1961 film West Side Story is going to be rendered into something much more up to date.

    Of course he is writing a new script; that generally happens with remakes of films. There would be little purpose to doing a shot-for-shot remake of the old one. That, in and of itself, doesn't mean they will be changing the arc of the story or updating the time period to th modern day. No one, aside from himself, Spielberg and maybe Sondheim, knows what he will do with it because it appears he is still working. There have been no public statements regarding his approach. However, I would be extremely surprised if it was not a period piece.

    Tony Kushner is one of the most accomplished writers working today. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his play Angels in America, as well as an Emmy for its television adaptation. He was also nominated for an Oscar twice, for the scripts to Spielberg's films Munich and Lincoln. President Obama also awarded him the National Medal of Arts. That's a pretty sensational track record, and I am glad that the remake script is in his hands.

    However, it seems based on what you've said that the quality of the people involved here is of no concern to you. Apparently, you wouldn't see a difference between a remake directed by Steven Spielberg or one directed by, say, Joel Schumacher and written by any old random studio-hack-for-hire screenwriter. You have decided that you automatically won't like it because it is not the original. That's fine, albeit dismissive. By all means, you do you.

    What I don't understand is why you feel the need to reiterate your point over and over again.

    Tino

    What exactly is it you don’t you agree with Ma’am? I honestly can’t tell. :unsure:

    As Tino noted brilliantly, we all know that you don't agree with this project being made. You are entitled to believe as you do, but the rest of us are also entitled to discuss development of the remake if we so choose. Unfortunately for you, because you are not Steven Spielberg, your not liking it will not change the fact that he is pursuing it. So, like it or not, you might as well get used to it.

    I don't think Disney really needs to be remaking The Lion King from a creative standpoint. It is as close to perfect as movies come. But they think, probably correctly, that there are profits to be made, so they are doing it again. So I have chosen to be optimistic and hope for the best, and am mostly focused on the fact that they have hired a lot of very talented people to do it again. Because I care about the property, I'd much rather have a lineup of truly committed quality people involved rather than just anybody for hire, and I'm curious to see what they're cooking up. If it's good, that means I'll have another movie to enjoy. If it's bad, I'll call it out. But I don't see a point in griping about what I can't change, and I choose to hope that it will be good. If it's not, the original will always be there. And if it is, the original will still always be there.

    The same holds true for West Side Story. Regardless of whatever happens with the remake, you'll be able to watch the original film again as many times as you want for the rest of your life.

    I would also add that both the 2003 collector's edition DVD and the more recent Blu-ray release have a whole lot of really terrific behind-the-scenes material that might be of interest to you. You may not know this because it doesn't seem like you own either one based on your thoughts about home media. But there's good stuff on there, so you should consider checking it out.

    While the original keeps you entertained, the rest of us may be able to enjoy the new one also

  157. Jake Lipson

    You realize, don't you, that the text of the show was not changed? Some of the words and lyrics for Spanish-speaking characters were translated from English into Spanish (with the blessing of Stephen Sondheim, the original lyricist.) However, they did not make any changes to the content of the show's book — only the language in which some of those things were being expressed. The production was also directed by Arthur Laurents, one of the show's authors.

    It's perfectly fine not to like it, but to suggest that substantial changes were made to the content of the book is simply wrong. Textually, there is no difference between the 2009 revival and any other production of the show, with the exception of the Spanish-language translations of some of the original lyrics. And they were translations, not newly-authored replacement lyrics. Although, since Sondheim is not very fond of his lyrics for that show, he might not have cared about alterations. But that's not what they were, in any case.

    Of course he is writing a new script; that generally happens with remakes of films. There would be little purpose to doing a shot-for-shot remake of the old one. That, in and of itself, doesn't mean they will be changing the arc of the story or updating the time period to th modern day. No one, aside from himself, Spielberg and maybe Sondheim, knows what he will do with it because it appears he is still working. There have been no public statements regarding his approach. However, I would be extremely surprised if it was not a period piece.

    Tony Kushner is one of the most accomplished writers working today. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his play Angels in America, as well as an Emmy for its television adaptation. He was also nominated for an Oscar twice, for the scripts to Spielberg's films Munich and Lincoln. President Obama also awarded him the National Medal of Arts. That's a pretty sensational track record, and I am glad that the remake script is in his hands.

    However, it seems based on what you've said that the quality of the people involved here is of no concern to you. Apparently, you wouldn't see a difference between a remake directed by Steven Spielberg or one directed by, say, Joel Schumacher and written by any old random studio-hack-for-hire screenwriter. You have decided that you automatically won't like it because it is not the original. That's fine, albeit dismissive. By all means, you do you.

    What I don't understand is why you feel the need to reiterate your point over and over again.

    As Tino noted brilliantly, we all know that you don't agree with this project being made. You are entitled to believe as you do, but the rest of us are also entitled to discuss development of the remake if we so choose. Unfortunately for you, because you are not Steven Spielberg, your not liking it will not change the fact that he is pursuing it. So, like it or not, you might as well get used to it.

    I don't think Disney really needs to be remaking The Lion King from a creative standpoint. It is as close to perfect as movies come. But they think, probably correctly, that there are profits to be made, so they are doing it again. So I have chosen to be optimistic and hope for the best, and am mostly focused on the fact that they have hired a lot of very talented people to do it again. Because I care about the property, I'd much rather have a lineup of truly committed quality people involved rather than just anybody for hire, and I'm curious to see what they're cooking up. If it's good, that means I'll have another movie to enjoy. If it's bad, I'll call it out. But I don't see a point in griping about what I can't change, and I choose to hope that it will be good. If it's not, the original will always be there. And if it is, the original will still always be there.

    The same holds true for West Side Story. Regardless of whatever happens with the remake, you'll be able to watch the original film again as many times as you want for the rest of your life.

    I would also add that both the 2003 collector's edition DVD and the more recent Blu-ray release have a whole lot of really terrific behind-the-scenes material that might be of interest to you. You may not know this because it doesn't seem like you own either one based on your thoughts about home media. But there's good stuff on there, so you should consider checking it out.

    While the original keeps you entertained, the rest of us may be able to enjoy the new one also

    The original 1961 film version of West Side Story will more than likely not be available to be shown in movie theatres at all, ever again, and I do not wish to be put in a position where I'll be forced to make a choice between watching my all time favorite film on DVD, Blue-Ray, or on TV at home, or purchasing some inanely expensive home-theatre system, or a cheap one that'll break down, which, regardless of what other people say or think, isn't nearly the same kind of experience, or watching something that I probably won't like as much that is available in movie theatres.

    I'll also add that our generation (meaning the Baby-boomer generation, of which I'm a member) never, ever demanded that the movies that the generation before ours enjoyed get re-made just so that they'd be more accessible for our viewing. This younger generation is demanding that, however.

  158. I'll also add that I'm totally against a re-make of the 1961 film version of West Side Story….period, whether it's by Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner, Joel Schumacher, or anybody else…period, which is what I've been trying to point out all along! What's there not to get?

  159. Jake Lipson

    Josh and I both explained this thoroughly in our previous posts, but here we are again.

    It matters because the character is not white, and the story itself is fundamentally ABOUT race. Do you really not see how that might be considered problematic to some people, especially those who actually are members of the race being depicted by someone who is not one of them?

    It didn't matter to the producers in 1960 because the cultural norms of that time were not in tune with where we are today regarding inclusiveness and representation in the industry. But nowadays we have an obligation to do better. No one is taking anything away from the quality of Natalie Wood's performance, but we now have the opportunity to do a more progressive, ethnically inclusive version of the story. I don't think that can be easily dismissed.

    Bear in mind that there are white Latinos, as well.

  160. mplo

    Self-quote removed by Moderator for political content.

    I might as well get used to it, eh? I've got news for you, Jake Lipson: If I don't like or approve of something, I've got every right to say so.

  161. Mike Frezon

    Of course you have a right to your opinion. This would be a mighty dull forum without opinions and information sharing. But you are not listening to others and continue to repeat yourself without adding anything new.

    Is this a joke? You can't think of a movie set in an earlier time period which was "successful?" Not one? Not even something like Gone With the Wind…or Citizen Kane? And your example to prove this is Billy Jack?

    This hasn't changed. You are trying our patience.

    It also wouldn't hurt you to read our rules as they pertain to posting.

    I never saw "Citizen Kane". I did, however, see Gone with the Wind on TV, 41 years ago, when my brother had to watch it on TV as a history assignment. Frankly, I found Gone with the Wind rather boring.

  162. Jake Lipson

    I respect that you have strong feelings about it. I also understand that your opposition to a remake is not limited to Spielberg.

    What I am saying to you is that pre-judging it before anyone has been cast, or one single frame has been shot, or anything, is dangerous. It is right to be skeptical of it; I am too. But what if it ends up being really good? Wait for the cast list, or the set reports, or the trailer — I'm not saying that you have to see it, but I think that your steadfast opposition to it before anything has happened to it might cost you the opportunity to see a really good film, if that is what it ends up being.

    I also fail to see a differentiation between seeing a new stage production and seeing a new film, considering that they both represent the new interpretation of the source material of the people involved in that production/movie.

    The film is in the very, very, very beginning stages right now. Let's see what happens. That's all I'm trying to get across.

    Here's another thing, as well, Jake Lipson: Many, if not most of today's young actors and actresses, regardless of who they are (i. e. race, ethnicity, etc.) have not been unionized, are not well paid, and have had little, if any chance or time to really hone their craft. Much of what passes for talent in today's Hollywood is extremely corporate-oriented. A lot of the Broadway shows that are coming out nowadays do not have equity casts, either. I saw a Broadway stage revival of Oklahoma, back in 2004, after having seen the stage play of Oklahoma back in the early 1960's. The differences between those two productions was rather stark. In the 2004 revival, the cast, the crew, the props and even the scenery and the script had been pared down, considerably. The review in our area's most prominent local paper's Arts section gave it a bad review. Had I seen that review of the 2004 revival of the Broadway stage of Oklahoma before buying myself a ticket and going to see it, i wouldn't have gone.

    It's proof that re-makes are almost never, ever as good as the original.

  163. mplo

    I never saw "Citizen Kane". I did, however, see Gone with the Wind on TV, 41 years ago, when my brother had to watch it on TV as a history assignment. Frankly, I found Gone with the Wind rather boring.

    Again, that's not what you said originally. You said that no period movies had found success. They have. MANY of them.

    Whether you find them boring or not is of no consequence here.

    mplo

    It's proof that re-makes are almost never, ever as good as the original.

    Not in any stretch of the imagination is that true. It was apparently true inside your mind…and that's fine. You are entitled to your opinion. But your critical analysis to dismiss the revival of Oklahoma your saw because there was a smaller cast is certainly not "proof that remakes are almost never as good as the original."

    mplo

    I might as well get used to it, eh? I've got news for you, Jake Lipson: If I don't like or approve of something, I've got every right to say so.

    No. You don't. Not repeatedly, not incessantly and not without advancing your "argument." You choose not to listen to others and engage in a discussion of the differences of opinion. You choose to instead hammer home the same points over and over.

    You were also asked to not quote yourself when posting to enable talking to yourself in circular patterns.

    You were also asked to read our posting rules. I will assume you did not since you incorrectly and improperly invoked a political philosophy of a past president in one of your posts. Those posts have been REMOVED.

    For those reasons and more–which I have tried to point out during these "discussions"–we'll be moving on now. Thanks.

  164. mplo

    I'll also add that I'm totally against a re-make of the 1961 film version of West Side Story….period, whether it's by Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner, Joel Schumacher, or anybody else…period, which is what I've been trying to point out all along! What's there not to get?

    What we don’t get is that you keep repeating this ad-nauseum.

    We got it the first time you said it.

  165. mplo

    What's there not to get?

    I'll tell you what there's to get: Your position is well known. You don't need to continually thread crap for those who ARE interested in this production. If you have news to report or a new angle, feel free to post it. Next time you just spout random poison tho you are getting a vacation. Got it?

  166. Is it safe to come out of the shadows and snap my fingers now? 🙂

    I'm down for anything Spielberg chooses to tackle, but I suspect this one my never actually come to fruition. Still, all this talk of remaking this film has made me interested in revisiting the original film, and that is always a good outcome to this kind of remake talk!

  167. Neil Middlemiss

    Is it safe to come out of the shadows and snap my fingers now? 🙂

    When you’re a Neil
    You’re a Neil all the way
    From your first cigarette
    To your last dyin’ day
    When you’re a Neil
    Let them do what they can
    You got brothers around
    You’re a family man!
    You’re never alone
    You’re never disconnected!
    You’re home with your own
    When company’s expected
    You’re well protected!

  168. Mike Frezon

    When you’re a Neil
    You’re a Neil all the way
    From your first cigarette
    To your last dyin’ day
    When you’re a Neil
    Let them do what they can
    You got brothers around
    You’re a family man!
    You’re never alone
    You’re never disconnected!
    You’re home with your own
    When company’s expected
    You’re well protected!

    :rolling-smiley:

  169. mplo

    I'll also add this, Jake Lipson: I've even made special road trips to the opposite end of the Bay State, as well as to neighboring states specially to view screenings of the original 1961 film West Side Story. As long as they're within reasonable driving distance from where I live, it's okay. I wouldn't fly to a different region of the country specially to see a screening of West Side Story. I may be crazy, but I'm not that crazy!

    Well,then, I'll admit it…I am that crazy; but a lack of money prevents me from flying to other countries where one can see "Napoleon" with a live orchestra or a 70mm print of "Ryan's Daughter" or any other large format venues. Well, don't that beat all; one has the money, but not the desire and the other a desire, but not the flow. I saw "My Fair Lady" in 1994 in Toronto; and took a 4 hour train ride to see "Lawrence of Arabia" in its first highly eventful restoration at The Zeigfeld. It's now a good quarter century later and both experineces still lives fresh within my mind and memory. 70mm venues don't come that often; but they are well worth the trip and effort.

  170. Rumored titles for the re-make:

    a) E.T. Story
    b) Amisharks
    c) Minority Report II
    d) Close Encounters of the Krupke Kind
    e) Saving P. R.
    f) The Temple of Doc
    g) Jet Me If You Can

  171. Wayne_j

    This discussion did lead to me re watching the 1961 film last night.

    Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo & Juliet (1968) suspiciously seemed so very much to me like a re-make of West Side Story (1961); but without the songs.
    Has anyone else noticed this?;)

  172. Now that all the drama with the other member is finished…here's a bit of related levity and enjoyment for this thread, which coincidentally popped up in my Facebook memories this morning from having been shared years ago. I had forgotten all about this, and it was a pleasant, funny surprise.

  173. Nevermind that West Side Story is, in and of itself, a musical remake of Romeo & Juliet.

    I've always wanted to see Romeo & Juliet and I've heard that it's even better than the West Side Story remake, but sadly (and as we all know), when WSS came out in 1961, all copies and previous film versions of Romeo & Juliet were destroyed along with the text of the original play. It wasn't until 1996 that a recreation with Leonardo DiCaprio was attempted, but unfortunately the filmmakers had to guess what the play was like and I think they may have missed the mark.

    😀

  174. As I was trying to express in my earlier posts which weren't being considered by a certain now-former member, unless one of you out there reading this is secretly Steven Spielberg, we don't have any control over whether this remake happens or not. Spielberg does. We don't have to like it — we don't even have to see it — but we do have to get used to the idea that it may eventually exist, because we can't do anything to stop it from being made. (Nor would I want to even if I could do that.)

    Therefore, I think the only valuable course of action is to appreciate the fact that high-quality filmmakers have been attached to it, and to hope that it is going to be good. Sulking about it isn't going to change anything. As we have discussed, there are certainly some avenues they could take to make the new movie more inclusive and representative of the actual Puerto Rican culture it will depict, and that would be a positive thing, not to mention a new angle to help differentiate itself from the original.

    The original is a towering cinematic achievement of which I am a huge fan. It sets a very high bar to which this film should aspire, and I still don't quite know how they're going to pull it off. But obviously Spielberg knows that, and he's a smart director, so I don't think he would do it if he didn't think he could bring something new and valuable to the table.

    Here's hoping it's sensational. In Spielberg and Kuschner, they've certainly got a first-class team, so if this is going to happen again, I'd say this is off to a promising start. I'm really curious to see what they do, and I am personally choosing to look at this in a positive light until we actually have a product to judge. Then I'll see it and render my opinion — which I hope will be a good one.

  175. Tino

    What happened to the red “banned” banner

    Good question, Tino!

    Also: who here has actually seen the original West Side Story in a theater since its original release? I suppose if you live near a theater that runs old classics in repertory, they'd bring it back around occasionally, but I can't say that I've had the pleasure myself. A few years ago, the local symphony where I was living at the time performed the score in concert to picture, so I saw that, but it wasn't great because the wheelchair seats were behind a balcony overhang, so the top of the movie screen was cut off from my field of vision. It sounded great to hear it played live, but it was a compromised experience due to the seating arrangements, which I didn't realize when getting tickets, and I never went there again.

    Here, my local arthouse does occasionally do old classic films, but every time they bring a musical, they make it a sing-along with subtitles on the screen and encouragement for the audience to sing, which doesn't interest me. So I haven't gone to any of those, even though I would normally be interested in a non-singalong format. Recently, they've brought The Sound of Music, Grease, Little Shop of Horrors and will be doing Hairspray for Mother's Day, but they haven't done West Side since I've been here — and I wouldn't want to sing along to that film either.

    I ask because mplo seemed to imply that finding theatrical screenings of West Side Story is an easy, common thing because they happen a lot, when in my experience that is not necessarily the case. It is certainly available to repertory cinemas if they choose to screen it, but it doesn't seem to happen with tremendous frequency, at least near me, so I can't imagine not wanting to have the DVD or Blu-ray if it's your favorite film. The theater experience is great if you can find it, but I'd never deprive myself of a disc.

  176. Jake Lipson

    …unless one of you out there reading this is secretly Steven Spielberg…

    I'll take this moment to reveal that I am actually Steven Spielberg. Now everyone knows why I'm always defending 1941.

  177. Jake Lipson

    Good question, Tino!

    Also: who here has actually seen the original West Side Story in a theater since its original release?

    I saw West Side Story in 35mm in a theater about 5 years ago.

  178. Jake Lipson

    Also: who here has actually seen the original West Side Story in a theater since its original release?

    I haven't personally, but I am aware that it screens in New York City fairly often. Just last year, a special screening was hosted with George Chakiris and Rita Moreno speaking out the film. It also screens as part of the Film Forum's "Forum Jr" kids lineup of classic films that they do once a week, WSS usually shows a couple times a year as part of that program. I think it plays fairly regularly at the Museum Of The Moving Image here as well.

    I think the overwhelming majority of these screenings are on DCP, but nonetheless, if one wants to see West Side Story on the big screen in New York City, there are usually several opportunities a year. I think Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" is one of the most frequently screened films in repertory here, but I'd say that West Side Story has to be near the top of the list of frequent showings as well.

  179. PMF

    Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo & Juliet (1968) suspiciously seemed so very much to me like a re-make of West Side Story (1961); but without the songs.
    Has anyone else noticed this?;)

    They cut them out. "I like to be in Vero-o-na…" Another one was "Dear Signor Krupke."

  180. Josh Steinberg

    I haven't personally, but I am aware that it screens in New York City fairly often. Just last year, a special screening was hosted with George Chakiris and Rita Moreno speaking out the film. It also screens as part of the Film Forum's "Forum Jr" kids lineup of classic films that they do once a week, WSS usually shows a couple times a year as part of that program. I think it plays fairly regularly at the Museum Of The Moving Image here as well.

    I think the overwhelming majority of these screenings are on DCP, but nonetheless, if one wants to see West Side Story on the big screen in New York City, there are usually several opportunities a year. I think Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" is one of the most frequently screened films in repertory here, but I'd say that West Side Story has to be near the top of the list of frequent showings as well.

    I used to see WEST SIDE STORY regularly in theaters in the 1960s and early '70s. They revived it a lot in New York before its first TV showing in 1972. Since then, I've only seen it once in theaters–at a repertory theater in 1975 on a double bill with BLACK ORPHEUS.

  181. Josh Steinberg

    II am aware that it screens in New York City fairly often.

    Good to know. I guess I've never lived in an area where repertory shows of it are terribly common.

    But the Collector's Edition DVD from 2003 is still one of my favorite home media releases ever. I won't get rid of it, even though I've upgraded to the Blu-ray for actual viewing of the film, due to sentimental value and the included book, which wasn't reproduced for the Blu-ray.

    So I've never really been too disappointed not to see it in theaters, although I would take the opportunity if it were to be offered here, for sure.

  182. In 1967, a theater in Charlotte had a widescreen movie festival and screened a bunch of widescreen movies after the (disastrous but very popular) widescreen version of Gone With the Wind finished its run. One of the films shown was West Side Story, and the management stuck an intermission into it, not at the end of the Rumble where the intermission is in the stage production, but in the MIDDLE of the Rumble when Bernardo has Riff backed up against the fence with a knife. I couldn't BELIEVE they'd interrupt that magnificent sequence with a fifteen minute break!

  183. Josh Steinberg

    Nevermind that West Side Story is, in and of itself, a musical remake of Romeo & Juliet.

    I've always wanted to see Romeo & Juliet and I've heard that it's even better than the West Side Story remake, but sadly (and as we all know), when WSS came out in 1961, all copies and previous film versions of Romeo & Juliet were destroyed along with the text of the original play. It wasn't until 1996 that a recreation with Leonardo DiCaprio was attempted, but unfortunately the filmmakers had to guess what the play was like and I think they may have missed the mark.

    😀

    I find this impossible to believe and I never heard this story before..West Side Story may have been very loosely based on Romeo and Juliet but R and J was also brilliantly filmed in Italy in 1968. It would have been impossible to destroy previous versions of R& J as there were numerous versions of this story on film. Are you aware that Romeo And Juliet was based on fiction and was a popular theme during the time that Shakespeare wrote his version?. He merely updated another writer's story to suit himself. The ballet version of Romeo and Juliet was also a masterpiece and is always performed world- wide on a regular basis. (I know as I have performed in this version numerous times)..Are you really serious in your statement that all versions of R&J were destroyed when West Side Story came out in 1961?.This truly is the most unbelievable story that I have ever heard in my life. Where did you get this piece of fiction from?

  184. Vic Pardo

    I used to see WEST SIDE STORY regularly in theaters in the 1960s and early '70s. They revived it a lot in New York before its first TV showing in 1972. Since then, I've only seen it once in theaters–at a repertory theater in 1975 on a double bill with BLACK ORPHEUS.

    BLACK ORPHEUS – now there is a favourite film of mine. A true classic. Saw it many times where I worked.

  185. Jake Lipson

    Good question, Tino!

    Also: who here has actually seen the original West Side Story in a theater since its original release? I suppose if you live near a theater that runs old classics in repertory, they'd bring it back around occasionally, but I can't say that I've had the pleasure myself. A few years ago, the local symphony where I was living at the time performed the score in concert to picture, so I saw that, but it wasn't great because the wheelchair seats were behind a balcony overhang, so the top of the movie screen was cut off from my field of vision. It sounded great to hear it played live, but it was a compromised experience due to the seating arrangements, which I didn't realize when getting tickets, and I never went there again.

    Here, my local arthouse does occasionally do old classic films, but every time they bring a musical, they make it a sing-along with subtitles on the screen and encouragement for the audience to sing, which doesn't interest me. So I haven't gone to any of those, even though I would normally be interested in a non-singalong format. Recently, they've brought The Sound of Music, Grease, Little Shop of Horrors and will be doing Hairspray for Mother's Day, but they haven't done West Side since I've been here — and I wouldn't want to sing along to that film either.

    I ask because mplo seemed to imply that finding theatrical screenings of West Side Story is an easy, common thing because they happen a lot, when in my experience that is not necessarily the case. It is certainly available to repertory cinemas if they choose to screen it, but it doesn't seem to happen with tremendous frequency, at least near me, so I can't imagine not wanting to have the DVD or Blu-ray if it's your favorite film. The theater experience is great if you can find it, but I'd never deprive myself of a disc.[/QUOTE

    I saw the film many times in 70mm since it's original release. Don't forget that the 1961 film ran for more than a year in most cities in 1961. I saw it in a Cinerama cinema also several times in the seventies.

  186. Tino

    What happened to the red “banned” banner on such members? Like Alf had. Looked cool.:razz:

    It's a farce being banned on HTF. All members have to do is just use another email address -most have many and it is easy to rejoin again under a different name. So what is the real point of banning a member? I am sure that most members use false info anyway.

  187. mplo

    I hear everything else that's being said on here, but I'm much more pessimistic, and have more doubt that a re-make of the film West Side Story, by anyone, including Spielberg, would really work. Look how the re-makes of Psycho and Planet of the Apes turned out, for example. Not well, and they each lasted less than a month in the theatres.

    The French remake of JEAN DE FLORETTE ran for more than six months and was a massive success world wide. The TV remake of CASABLANCA was a flop however and it deserved to be.

  188. mplo

    I'll also add that I'm totally against a re-make of the 1961 film version of West Side Story….period, whether it's by Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner, Joel Schumacher, or anybody else…period, which is what I've been trying to point out all along! What's there not to get?

    Me too. Classic films should remain so for future generations to see. Live shows are always updated and recycled every few years but that is different. can anyone remember the

  189. cinerama10

    Me too. Classic films should remain so for future generations to see. Live shows are always updated and recycled every few years but that is different. can anyone remember the

    Meant to say : Can anyone remember the abomination that was the TV remake of SOUTH PACIFIC.? Hopefully the planned WEST SIDE STORY remake will not stoop to that level,which was an all-time low in musical remakes.

  190. Tino

    I Have zero issues with Spielberg remaking West SIde Story because the original is there untouched in all its glory for all to enjoy. If you’re not interested in a remake don’t go see it.

    Simple isn’t it?

    So true. That really sums it up beautifully. There is no further need for and more discussion now on this forum,is there?

  191. cinerama10

    There is no further need for and more discussion now on this forum,is there?

    Sure there is — because mplo, who is now absent forever, is concerned that the old one will disappear! :laugh:

    In all seriousness, I think we've beaten this particular issue to death. My last few posts have been an attempt to move the discussion forward to other matters. I do think that the remake itself is worth discussing, which is why I started the thread in the first place.

    I think I posted in here a few pages ago, before all the drama, about an open casting call for the movie coming up soon. This would seem to indicate that they are going to be casting at least some of the roles with new, fresh faces. However, do you think everyone will be unknowns? I gt that West Side Story is West Side Story and can in some respects be counted on to sell itself, but I wonder if some studio executives will get nervous with too many unknowns and may try to stick a famous name or two in there somewhere.

    If that's the case, who do you all think would be good and also matches the "famous quota?"

    I'd love it if Spielberg could give Chita Rivera a cameo, as she received in the Chicago film but not in the original West Side Story one. But mainstream movie audiences may not know who she is, even though they obviously should.

  192. cinerama10

    It's a farce being banned on HTF. All members have to do is just use another email address -most have many and it is easy to rejoin again under a different name. So what is the real point of banning a member? I am sure that most members use false info anyway.

    I believe the IP address is banned. So using a different email would not work.

  193. Matt Hough

    In 1967, a theater in Charlotte had a widescreen movie festival and screened a bunch of widescreen movies after the (disastrous but very popular) widescreen version of Gone With the Wind finished its run. One of the films shown was West Side Story, and the management stuck an intermission into it, not at the end of the Rumble where the intermission is in the stage production, but in the MIDDLE of the Rumble when Bernardo has Riff backed up against the fence with a knife. I couldn't BELIEVE they'd interrupt that magnificent sequence with a fifteen minute break!

    Some people will do anything to sell more popcorn.

  194. My favorite WEST SIDE STORY memory was seeing a 70mm print at The Carpenter Center in Long Beach, as part of the Widescreen Festival they used to host annually back about 20 years ago. We happened to get there over an hour early to snag a seat and the doors weren't yet open. So we had to cool our heels in the parking lot, along with the featured guest who was also locked out — Mr. Robert Wise. We had a long chat about nothing in particular while waiting for the doors to open. I remember he was getting ready to drive back to Iowa the following week to visit his family. He couldn't have been more down to earth. I wished I had some prepared questions to ask him, but I was too overwhelmed to focus my thoughts. Just a pleasant memory.

  195. mplo

    […]Many, if not most of today's young actors and actresses, regardless of who they are (i. e. race, ethnicity, etc.) have not been unionized, are not well paid, and have had little, if any chance or time to really hone their craft. […]

    Wow, where did this guy come from? I've been reading many posts that I missed, but this one I wanted to respond to; albeit most here will know what I am about to say. The American actor is unionized. Obviously, there is the American Federation of Television and Radio Artits (AFTRA); Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and Actors' Equity Association (AEA); which collectively covers every aspect of the profession. Again, I am certain that most of HTF's readership is fully aware of one or all of these unions; but I wanted to clarify and articulate this for those future others who may be stumbling upon these statements by a now former member. Nothing stated in the quote I selected could be further from any truths. mplo lacked a great deal of research in his statements about actors and their trade. If an actor is not unionized it is an indicator that they are not yet qualified to join. A certain amount of experiences are required in order to join. So, those who are not unionized are still working in an arena where hobbyists or amateurs do gather; or they are not pursuing venues where union points can be gained towards membership; which would be the reason as to why they are not yet well paid. I've also known many performers who do qualify, but deliberately opt not to go that route. As for those so-called cited actors who do not have the chance or time to hone their craft, one has to ask two questions. Is the lack of chance to hone ones craft based on a lack of monies or a lack of knowledge as to where one must go to train? A lack of monies is one thing, altogether; but that, in and of itself, has nothing to do with the industry. Over the decades, I have encountered many wanna-be actors who have been told where they can go for their much needed training; yet, despite the available funding, they usually end up stating that their "natural" talents do not require any training whatsoever. In truth, such actors are either afraid to move to NYC, Chicago or LA or simply refuse to accept that "talent" is not enough. Talent requires training, technique and schooling. But, to many non-unionized, under-paid and un-honed actors the worst smelling salt news of all is that talent requires discipline, practice and a great deal of homework. Such realities to many of the wanna-bees finds this very concept to be most abhorrent.

  196. Tino

    As crazy as those posts were I gotta admit they were tremendously entertaining. People are amazing.

    Mike Frezon

    One person's entertainment is another person's headache…

    :laugh:

    Malcolm R

    Only if you're a Moderator. 😀

    OMG, I just finished reading the complete and voluminous backlog of posts from this entire episode.
    Like Tino, I was initially entertained. But that soon wore off.
    Like Mike, the beginnings of a headache eventually took hold.
    Dear Mr. Frezon, the Tylenols are now in hand.
    If my own headache persists should I call a doctor or simply join the HTF circle of Moderators?;)

  197. Wayne_j

    I saw West Side Story in 35mm in a theater about 5 years ago.

    If you ever get the opportunity to see WSS in 70mm, do not hesitate for a second. What you enjoyed in 35 pays off 10-fold in 70.

  198. PMF

    Wow, where did this guy come from? I've been reading many posts that I missed, but this one I wanted to respond to

    Occasionally, productions that have also played Broadway with Equity casts will tour with non-Equity casts as a cost-saving measure, especially to go to smaller cities after the first Equity tour has concluded. This may be what mlpo was referring to, although I think it's more likely he/she (gender was officially claimed to be female, but who knows how honest this was?) was just spewing BS in his lame attempts to derail this thread.

    His insistence that he doesn't want to watch films at home demonstrates that his intention in joining HTF was likely exclusively to thread crap on this particular discussion. All but one of his posts was in this thread. I doubt very much that long-term members who value our discussions will take his posts seriously. It's obvious to me that the original film will continue to be shown even after the remake exists, for example.

    Trolls gonna troll.

    It really is that simple sometimes. 😀

  199. Here is my view on the history of remakes:

    I will always take interest.
    I will always hope that a newer aspect or vision will elicit many good things, not yet considered before.
    The filmmaker will either succeed and be claimed a genius or they will have to deal alone with the egg upon their own little face.
    Either way, a re-make costs me nothing except the price of admission.
    In the end, the original survives; and only vinegar syndrome, itself, can erase its memory.

    No doubt, its exceedingly hard to imagine a re-make of a 10-time Oscar winner.
    Nonetheless, my imaginations are far too limited when stacked against the visions of one Mr. Spielberg and one Mr. Kushner.
    Indeed, the concept of a re-make boggles the imagination; which is also the reason I'm highly intrigued.
    One things for certain, I both own and watch "The Longest Day" and "Saving Private Ryan" at least once a year.
    Neither film takes away from the other.
    Both serve their purpose with great intelligence and great respect to its topic.

    With regard towards the creative team at hand, this re-make of West Side Story will clearly not be built on a foundation of trifle and piffle. I am confident that all involved fully understands the pedigree of its long history;
    which is not limited to the history of Shakespeare or Sondheim or even that of Mr. Spielberg, himself.

  200. And then there are those attempted re-makes that, fortunately, never see the light of day.

    Get this, I once knew a guy who took it upon himself to re-do "My Fair Lady".
    Ready for this one, friends?

    A) After reading "Pygmalion" and a half a dozen books by an author who wrote on meta-physics, some hard to grasp concept came into his head that he was going to combine both and turn it into a musical.

    B) After long discussion with him, I came to discover that he had never seen "My Fair Lady"; short of a few musical clips on YouTube.

    C) Stephen Sondheim was his preferred composer for the project; for at the time of this story, he had read in the paper that this 9-time Tony winner was coming out of retirement.

    I said to him that "My Fair Lady" was a flawless piece of work;
    and that "My Fair Lady" remains timeless
    and that "My Fair Lady" still stands as one of the top 3 musicals of our 20th century.

    I had no fears about his project ever getting off the ground but, for the sake of exercising his so-called creative juices, I assigned him to a bit of homework and education.

    1) Before taking on the re-make of "My Fair Lady", one must first see the film in its entirety; which, within his circumstances, obviously meant a specific viewing of the restored BD; as there was no theater exhibiting it at the time.

    2) I also assigned him the task of gaining and listening to all of Mr. Sondheim's scores; along with readings of the plays, itself, for which he composed his works. And why did I assign this task? Because he knew of Mr. Sondheim's excellent track record and legend, but he had never seen one of his plays and had never heard any of his music; short of "Send in the Clowns"

    Weeks went by and here is what transpired:

    A) Although he still had a passion for his midnight writings, he decided he didn't need to see the film version of "My Fair Lady" because he wasn't interested in sitting through a 3-hour film.

    B) He downloaded a few tracks of Sondheim's songs; and even though they were out of context to the shows; was bored by the few songs he sampled, as well.

    Still, he wanted Stephen Sondheim for his intended project.

    I informed him that Lerner and Lowe were among Stephen Sondheim's mentors. And that it was doubtful Stephen Sondheim would have any interests in re-writing every perfect song; as set by his esteemed mentors; in lieu of the projects that had initially brought him out of retirement. I also emphasized that such an imagined meeting with him wouldn't last very long; being that he only knew "Send in the Clowns" and found all of his other works to be boring.

    So, the guy was still writing when I last had contact. A contact, by the way, which remained my very last. What he was writing, I no longer can grasp. He hasn't seen "My Fair Lady" and doesn't want to; finds Sondheim boring, without even knowing the breadth of his work; and imagines that his re-write of "My Fair Lady"; meta-physics and all; will someday reach someone's interests.

    I have no patience for such lunacies.

  201. PMF

    And then there are those attempted re-makes that, fortunately, never see the light of day.

    Get this, I once knew a guy who took it upon himself to re-do "My Fair Lady".
    Ready for this one, friends?

    A) After reading "Pygmalion" and a half a dozen books by an author who wrote on meta-physics, some hard to grasp concept came into his head that he was going to combine both and turn it into a musical.

    B) After long discussion with him, I came to discover that he had never seen "My Fair Lady"; short of a few musical clips on YouTube.

    C) Stephen Sondheim was his preferred composer for the project; for at the time of this story, he had read in the paper that this 9-time Tony winner was coming out of retirement.

    I said to him that "My Fair Lady" was a flawless piece of work;
    and that "My Fair Lady" remains timeless
    and that "My Fair Lady" still stands as one of the top 3 musicals of our 20th century.

    I had no fears about his project ever getting off the ground but, for the sake of exercising his so-called creative juices, I assigned him to a bit of homework and education.

    1) Before taking on the re-make of "My Fair Lady", one must first see the film in its entirety; which, within his circumstances, obviously meant a specific viewing of the restored BD; as there was no theater exhibiting it at the time.

    2) I also assigned him the task of gaining and listening to all of Mr. Sondheim's scores; along with readings of the plays, itself, for which he composed his works. And why did I assign this task? Because he knew of Mr. Sondheim's excellent track record and legend, but he had never seen one of his plays and had never heard any of his music; short of "Send in the Clowns"

    Weeks went by and here is what transpired:

    A) Although he still had a passion for his midnight writings, he decided he didn't need to see the film version of "My Fair Lady" because he wasn't interested in sitting through a 3-hour film.

    B) He downloaded a few tracks of Sondheim's songs; and even though they were out of context to the shows; was bored by the few songs he sampled, as well.

    Still, he wanted Stephen Sondheim for his intended project.

    I informed him that Lerner and Lowe were among Stephen Sondheim's mentors. And that it was doubtful Stephen Sondheim would have any interests in re-writing every perfect song; as set by his esteemed mentors; in lieu of the projects that had initially brought him out of retirement. I also emphasized that such an imagined meeting with him wouldn't last very long; being that he only knew "Send in the Clowns" and found all of his other works to be boring.

    So, the guy was still writing when I last had contact. A contact, by the way, which remained my very last. What he was writing, I no longer can grasp. He hasn't seen "My Fair Lady" and doesn't want to; finds Sondheim boring, without even knowing the breadth of his work; and imagines that his re-write of "My Fair Lady"; meta-physics and all; will someday reach someone's interests.

    I have no patience for such lunacies.

    The arrogance of ignorance.

  202. cinerama10

    Meant to say : Can anyone remember the abomination that was the TV remake of SOUTH PACIFIC.? Hopefully the planned WEST SIDE STORY remake will not stoop to that level,which was an all-time low in musical remakes.

    That actually is my favorite version! I find it much better than the Easter Egg dyed dubbed version from the ‘50’s.

  203. On January 19th – when this thread had first begun – the very thought or idea of a "West Side Story" remake seemed initially galling and inconcieveable. But now I find myself looking forward to it. After all, as many have pointed out, a remake does not physically erase or destroy the existing 1961 classic. Although, in my case, is was simply the fundamental question of "Why?" And, way beyond the already established lyric translations from English to Latino used in the Broadway revival (or the casting of a Maria who finally is of of true decent), I am now able to recognize so many other possibilites for credible updates that would work and succeed. Only the absence of Jerome Robbins has still got me stumped. This, and this alone, is all the remains within my questions; but, without a doubt, this too has also been addressed in all talks and Pre-Production discussions. And even better, within this unanswered question and self-made Rubics Cube concerning Mr. Robbins, is the fact that its not even my burden. When I think about the many films we've had on Abraham Lincoln prior to "Lincoln', I find that the current and the collective of all prior takes remain of equal importance within their contributions. All is gained and nothing is lost. And, as I said in an earlier post, "Saving Private Ryan" brought great, great things to what was already seen in "The Longest Day" without any removal from my enjoyment of the Ken Annakin version, as well. I believe that whatevers coming will be something special and viscerally innovative.

  204. PMF

    Only the absence of Jerome Robbins has still got me stumped.

    With all due respect to him, Jerome Robbins has been gone for a long time, and that hasn't stopped West Side Story from being produced without him. He knew it would continue to be produced after his death.

    If they want to use his choreography, it can be recreated. If they want to pay proper respect to it and also include new things, they can do that too.

    I think it's also worth noting that all of the speculation in this thread about what Spielberg may do with regard to casing or Spanish-language inclusion is just that. Nothing about his approach has yet been officially stated. All we know for sure is that he currently intends to direct the remake from a script by Tony Kuschner.

    We'll see how it turns out. I assume Spielberg must have a legitimate new idea, because he surely knows how terrific the previous film is. I assume he wouldn't be interested in doing a carbon copy of the old one, so if he didn't have a new angle, he probably wouldn't be exploring this. I wouldn't say I am "looking forward to it" yet, simply because we don't know enough about it yet, but I am curious, which is a lot more than I thought I would be at this point.

    This is why I love reading here, at least from members who have thoughtful and well-reasoned things to say (which is almost everyone, save you-know-who who is not here anymore.) As you can tell from the beginning of this thread, my reaction to this news was also extremely negative, but our discussions have turned me around to a place of optimistic curiosity.

  205. Wayne_j

    the TCM/Fathom film for June.

    Is it just me or was this added to the lineup more recently than the others? I don't remember it in the initial lineup announced late last year, and I think I would have, since I've never had the privilege to see that in a movie theater and have long wanted to. Your post was the first I recall hearing of this, and thank you for bringing it to my attention. I was going to give my Blu-ray a spin soon, but now I'll probably just wait so that seeing the theatrical screening will be more special if I haven't watched it in a while.

    Anyway, I'm super glad they're doing this.

    I wonder if anyone might see our former pal mplo at these screenings? 😉 :laugh:

    (Too soon?)

  206. More proof that representation matters with this show: last week, Sierra Boggess was announced to star as Maria in a concert presentation of the stage version of West Side Story at the Royal Albert Hall. She is a genuine musical theater star and is more than capable of singing the score brilliantly. The only problem is she's white.

    Today, she has withdrawn from the production in order to allow for the role to be cast in an ethnically correct manner. She wrote on her Facebook page:

    Sierra Boggess

    Last week, it was announced that I will be singing in a concert of West Side Story at Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms in London. Because it was a concert presentation and not the show proper — I had signed on to lend my voice to honor Leonard Bernstein in his centennial this year, with an orchestra I have loved singing with for years, following in the long list of sopranos who have all sung the score before me.

    After much reflection, I've realized that if I were to do this concert, it would once again deny Latinas the opportunity to sing this score, as well as deny the IMPORTANCE of seeing themselves represented onstage. And that would be a huge mistake. Since the announcement of this concert, I have had many conversations about why this is a crucial time, now more than ever, to not perpetuate the miscasting of this show. I apologize for not coming to this realization sooner and as an artist, I must ask myself how I can best serve the world, and in this case my choice is clearer than ever: to step aside and allow an opportunity to correct a wrong that has been done for years with this show in particular. I have therefore withdrawn myself from this concert and I look forward to continuing to be a voice for change in our community and our world!

    Good on her. Hopefully the makers of the new film take note of this as well.

  207. Concerning Sierra Boggess, there are justifiable arguments for either direction taken. Being a concert, versus an actual production, I would hate to think that all our great singers would be precluded from being heard. In concert, its about the voices; and I would have zero issues with whomever the voices were that caressed the Bernstein/Sondheim score. If the singers were 40 and up; rather than the actual ages of Tony and Maria; I would be fine with it all. If the singers were Asian, French, German or Swedish this would not affect me either. It's about the soloist or singers and the spotlight placed upon their forte or specific talents. Now, on the other side of this, I would also buy tickets to hear the soaring voice(s) and glory of any Latino, as well. Sierra Boggess understandably wanted – and perhaps dreamed – of being able to bring her vocal interpretations to this magnanimous score. The decision(s) of Ms. Boggess were quite brave and honorable; but in terms of a concert, I sincerely hope that all furture voices from any age or group would ultimately get to be heard.

  208. I have no issue whatsoever with non-Latino people singing individual songs from the score in the context of their individual acts. But a concert version of the entire show, which will only be missing staging, is another thing, because that requires the performer to portray the entire arc of the character, and that should be done by someone who matches the ethnicity of the character. If you were a white person who wanted to present one of Maria's songs in a different context within an evening of singing like a cabaret or something, sure, but if it's the whole show being sung and the story is being expressed, then that's not right, and I appreciate Sierra's recognition of that and stepping aside.

    Hopefully, for the film, they just cast a Latina actress from the get-go and we don't have to have this drama.

  209. Personally, I don't see that the above statement (and action) by Sierra Boggess proves anything…except that she changed her mind about performing in the production. Boggess singing the score doesn't "deny Latina singers the opportunity to sing this score"…much like a remake of West Side Story doesn't mean we still wouldn't be able to appreciate the 1961 film.

    This whole issue confuses me.

    I don't care if Boggess sings the part of Maria. I don't care if Kiri Te Kanawa sings Maria. I don't care if Ezio Pinza plays the part of Emile DeBeque. I don't care who plays whatever part–as long as they're good at it. (For example, I never really thought that much about casting Marlon Brando as Skye Masterson, but I digress. 😉 )

    There has been this hue and cry for colorblind casting (which advocates that an actor's ethnicity and skin-color aren't supposed to be considered when casting parts). But then there's something like this (with Boggess). Or the Hamilton producers saying that all cast members MUST be non-white (yet getting sued for discrimination). Or complaints about Natalie Wood playing Maria.

    So which is it? Are we supposed to be colorblind when casting…or are we supposed to specifically cast ethnic types that reflect the parts as originally conceived by a show's creators? Which is acceptable/politically correct?

    Frankly it seems that no matter which is done, someone is going to complain.

    There are SO MANY reasons which might be taken into consideration when casting a part, I should think that whoever is financing the production should be allowed to pick whomever they want–or pick the person of their choice to make that informed decision for them. Why should the actors or audience have the right to feel aggrieved if someone to their liking isn't chosen? Seems like an odd system to me.

    Hell, I'm aggrieved every time Lea Salonga isn't given the female lead in any musical play or film. But I don't go protesting the production…or thinking I should have a say in who should be cast. 😀

  210. Mike Frezon

    So which is it? Are we supposed to be colorblind when casting…or are we supposed to specifically cast ethnic types that reflect the parts as originally conceived by a show's creators? Which is acceptable/politically correct?

    Great question, and the answer for me is: both. It depends on what the piece is, how it has been written, and whether or not race is part of the story.

    First, if the author of the piece has indicated what the race of a particular character must be, then that must be respected in all cases.

    If the race of the character is not specified, then sure, cast it colorblind.

    For example, Kristoff in Frozen can be portrayed by a black actor onstage (as he currently is in the Broadway production) even though he's a white guy in the film because the story doesn't deal with his race. It would be the same story if they had decided to animate him as a black man, so the actor's race is a non-issue. There's nothing in the narrative as written that dictates he has to be one race or another.

    I also think that colorblind casting has to work both ways for shows like Frozen. The guy who got the role of Kristoff now is black, and he got it because he was the best person who auditioned. When, eventually, he wants to lave the show, they should also pick the best person who auditions to replace him, whether his successor is another black man, or a white man, or an Asian man, or a blue dude from the Avatar world, or whatever. The race of that character can be anything and it doesn't change his arc in any way. It should also be noted that the authors of Frozen, Jennifer Lee (who wrote the screenplay and musical book) and Kristin Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, who wrote the songs, have approved the casting, and will likely continue to do so for replacements. There will likely be many replacements, since the show will probably run for a decade or longer.

    On the other hand, Maria needs to be Latina precisely because the story is about racial tensions between Latinos and whites, so that doesn't make sense for a white person to be playing that part. If West Side Story did not involve race as part of its story, then it would be fine for anyone of any race to play Maria. But it IS fundamentally about race, and if you remove race from the story, that would fundamentally change it, so that must be considered in the casting. Other examples: A Raisin in the Sun, Hairspray, etc. Stories where the character's race is fundamental to what is being said and what they go through in the arc of the play absolutely must respect the cultures about which they are written and cast accordingly.

    With Hamilton, they are making a point in that show about non-white people taking ownership of this nation's history when thy have been discriminated against in the past. It's intrinsic to the way they are telling the story to deliberately give the roles to people who don't look like the people they are playing did in real life, so that falls under the heading of "creative choice." If Hamilton were to be performed by an all-white company, it would lose part of Lin Manuel-Miranda's message with the show, which is to make "America then look like America now." This is Lin's piece, and as the writer, he retains the right to indicate how it should be cast.

    Also, there are white people in Hamilton, so the stage portrays an ethnic mix. It's only the leads who must be non-white because the conception of the show is about non-whites taking ownership of the nation's history. King George III is white, specifically so that he is not the same race as the others. And white people play various ensemble roles.

    Mike Frezon

    Frankly it seems that no matter which is done, someone is going to complain.

    You are right about that, for sure.

  211. Jake Lipson

    I have no issue whatsoever with non-Latino people singing individual songs from the score in the context of their individual acts. But a concert version of the entire show, which will only be missing staging, is another thing, because that requires the performer to portray the entire arc of the character, and that should be done by someone who matches the ethnicity of the character. […]

    I must have misinterpreted the Sierra Boggess quote of "Because it was a concert presentation and not the show proper…" as meaning just that. "A concert presentation". In the end, her decision was informed by what she felt to be right and has proven to be an interesting move. As for the film, I've heard that Meryl Streep will be playing Maria; as she has always wanted to sing the part. To accommodate, the Jets have now been switched to Latino and the Sharks will be white to avoid any controversy. Other re-writes included concern Maria as now being Anybody's much older sister who has left a convent and is unversed in the true ways of the world. Due to Streep and Spielberg's demanding schedules, its expected that her portrayal of Maria will garner her a 23rd Oscar nomination; with Ms. Streep's 22nd nomination being due out by late December of 2018.

  212. Jake Lipson

    Yes it does, because she is talking about this production specifically, not in general. If Boggess were to remain in the role, a Latina actress would not be cast because she would fill the role. Therefore, it's an either-or situation. The role is written specifically as Latina, which informs the story, and therefore it should be played by a Latina actress. She is stepping away with the hope that the producers will cast a Latina in the role when they replace her.

    No. It doesn't. I understand that she went through some deep soul-searching and came to this realization that she should not perform in this particular production for some personal belief.

    Her words:

    After much reflection, I've realized that if I were to do this concert, it would once again deny Latinas the opportunity to sing this score, as well as deny the IMPORTANCE of seeing themselves represented onstage. And that would be a huge mistake.

    I just can't see how her stepping away from this performance accomplishes anything of value–outside of assuaging some kind of guilty feeling that had been fostered within her. And that's fine for her. But she has no input as to who succeeds her in the part, except the belief that through her statement she may put pressure on the show's producers as to who they hire as a replacement. But how can they be trusted to get it right this time (except they now have her inspired guidance)? It's a farcical thing to think that she could not have done the role justice and allowed the lyrics, melodies and her own artistic abilities to convey the proper depth and emotion that the role requires.

    So we want colorblind casting, but not when it's inconvenient (or makes us feel guilty)? This really isn't one of those things you can have both ways. Either a person can act/sing the part (and satisfy the audience) or they can't.

    Am I somehow less wrong than Jake in that I want the best possible (according to the producers) person in the role rather than the person who should be in the role because of their DNA?

    But we are further blessed because Boggess then, after all, goes on to let us know that we, apparently, have reached critical mass on this important issue:

    Since the announcement of this concert, I have had many conversations about why this is a crucial time, now more than ever, to not perpetuate the miscasting of this show.

    So she has had "conversations" which have helped her see the light. But, gosh,I wonder why she feels–"now more than ever" it's important for her to take this position?

    I apologize for not coming to this realization sooner and as an artist, I must ask myself how I can best serve the world, and in this case my choice is clearer than ever: to step aside and allow an opportunity to correct a wrong that has been done for years with this show in particular. I have therefore withdrawn myself from this concert and I look forward to continuing to be a voice for change in our community and our world!

    So she also feels the need to apologize, after having done nothing more than honestly accept a gig…but then continue on…letting us know that this is going to "best serve the world" and that she is "correcting a wrong."

    I see this as nothing more than a poorly worded statement by a puffed-up self-important celebrity who thinks that whatever they do has some important societal consequences.

    How about if she had just quietly backed out without issuing some very public scolding about not just how wrong society is to deny this opportunity to Latinas to sing the part of Maria in West Side Story…and to hopefully affect even more positive change in this world? She might've even privately explained to the producers why she was backing out–in the hope that she could effectively convince them to re-cast a Latina–without having to don her superhero costume and save the world from themselves.

    But that would require humility.

  213. Mike Frezon

    […]But that would require humility.

    In other words, you're saying that she went from Boggess to bogus, right?:D
    But seriously, it will be interesting to learn who ends up taking the gig.:thumbs-up-smiley:

  214. Mike Frezon

    So we want colorblind casting, but not when it's inconvenient (or makes us feel guilty)? This really isn't one of those things you can have both ways. Either a person can act/sing the part (and satisfy the audience) or they can't.

    No, that's not it. When race is involved in the story, it's inappropriate to cast colorblind because the race of the character must be honored. Would you cast a white actor to play Martin Luther King? In a story about him, being black is a essential qualification for the role. A white actor may be very good, but he is simply not qualified to inhabit the role of an African-American. Maria in West Side Story is no different just because she happens to be fictional.

    When the race of the character is not commented on inside the story being told, then it's absolutely fine to cast colorblind. That's why in Frozen, Kristoff can be black or white or Asian or whatever.

    Of course Boggess knows that she cannot select her replacement. She is doing what she feels is right and ultimately has no control over who her replacement will be. However, the "very public scolding" was stated for her on social media when her casting was announced. She could have backed out without saying anything, but obviously felt that adding her voice to the conversation that was already happening would be helpful. We'll see if she was right or not when they announce who replaces her.

    PMF

    I must have misinterpreted the Sierra Boggess quote of "Because it was a concert presentation and not the show proper…" as meaning just that. "A concert presentation".

    My understanding is that it is a concert presentation of the entire show — meaning all the songs will be sung and probably the book scenes will be read. The only thing that differentiates it from a full production of the show is that there won't be blocking, movement, choreography, etc. Therefore, that differentiates it from being a concert of various pieces of music in which a single song or two is being excerpted without the context of the story surrounding them.

    PMF

    Please update us when her replacement is known.

    Will do.

  215. Jake Lipson

    No, that's not it. When race is involved in the story, it's inappropriate to cast colorblind because the race of the character must be honored. Would you cast a white actor to play Martin Luther King? In a story about him, being black is a essential qualification for the role. A white actor may be very good, but he is simply not qualified to inhabit the role of an African-American. Maria in West Side Story is no different just because she happens to be fictional.

    Sure. Cast a white actor to play MLK…if that's what the show's producers/directors want to do. Maybe they'd have some artistic reason for wanting to do so (maybe to make some kind of point that we really need to be colorblind on the subject of race). Such a decision might be the WORST decision the show's producers could ever make in their professional careers…but it's theirs to make. And they'll deal with the consequences. Should there be some rule that says they CAN'T?

    So it should be the same for casting Maria. Maybe they think casting Boguss is in the best interests of the production. And if some people decide they don't want to see it because of that, fine. Yet if some do, that's fine, too.

    And if Boguss doesn't want the role, she has every right to back out (contractual obligations notwithstanding). But I just don't want a lecture from an actor explaining to me what's wrong with my world and how she is awesome for trying to fix it–especially when it's not in her job description to do so. She should say her lines and sing her songs and entertain me. I get enough uninformed activism in my life without entertainers piling on even more.

  216. We see a lot of plays. Blind casting works and it doesn’t depending on the show. We once saw a road show production of “Beauty And The Beast” with Bell being played by an Asian girl. She was quite lovely, but not the young French girl the part requires. It took you out of the play.

  217. Mike Frezon

    And if Boguss doesn't want the role, she has every right to back out (contractual obligations notwithstanding). But I just don't want a lecture from an actor explaining to me what's wrong with my world and how she is awesome for trying to fix it–especially when it's not in her job description to do so. She should say her lines and sing her songs and entertain me. I get enough uninformed activism in my life without entertainers piling on even more.

    I get what you're saying, but she has a platform because she is a public figure which allows her to draw attention to causes because of her status. It's the same as when entertainers publicly endorse political candidates. They feel like they should use their platform to bring about the change they want to see. I can't blame them for that, even the ones with whose views I disagree. But Boggess advocating for the hiring of a Latina in this role is really the same thing as Celebrity Joe Smith advocating for Political Candidate XYZ. Because I don't want to actually turn this conversation political, I'm going to leave that example there and not go further. I think the idea I'm trying to get across is clear.

  218. TJPC

    It took you out of the play.

    Belle is an interesting case because, even though the show is set in France, she is not typically played with a French accent or typically required to appear French. Paige O'Hara is American and Emma Watson is British and they both played her on film. I personally wouldn't have a problem with an Asian Belle, but I see what you are saying. The content of West Side Story revolves entirely around Maria being Latina, because of the racism directed at the Latino characters by the white characters in the show. That's not really the case in Beauty and the Beast.

  219. As far as the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast goes…I'm not sure it makes any sense to "go there."

    Gaston lives in the same French village as Belle. During the song Belle (in the 2017 version), Gaston tells his sidekick LeFou that "she's the only girl that gives me that sense of…"

    And LeFou attempts to finish his thought by by saying: "je ne sais quoi?"

    And Gaston responds, "I don't know what that means."

    The absurdity of French characters singing English lyrics with occasional French phrases included which they claim to not understand is evident.

    Jake Lipson

    I get what you're saying, but she has a platform because she is a public figure which allows her to draw attention to causes because of her status. It's the same as when entertainers publicly endorse political candidates. They feel like they should use their platform to bring about the change they want to see. I can't blame them for that, even the ones with whose views I disagree. But Boggess advocating for the hiring of a Latina in this role is really the same thing as Celebrity Joe Smith advocating for Political Candidate XYZ. Because I don't want to actually turn this conversation political, I'm going to leave that example there and not go further. I think the idea I'm trying to get across is clear.

    I can blame them (celebrities) for talking about things of which they have no understanding. It's an ill-informed waste of time which can serve the purpose of misinforming people who don't understand that celebrities can actually understand LESS about something than they do. Just because a celebrity "feels like" they should use their platform to advocate for something they know nothing about, I don't think they should do it and I wish more people would ignore them so they would stop doing it.

    Bogess is simply unqualified to tell other people how to spend their money. Just because she can sing pretty doesn't make her an expert on how theatrical producers should do their job. She has no standing and should keep her mouth shut…except, of course, when it comes to doing what she actually knows–performance.

  220. Mike Frezon

    Bogess is simply unqualified to tell other people how to spend their money. Just because she can sing pretty doesn't make her an expert on how theatrical producers should do their job. She has no standing and should keep her mouth shut…except, of course, when it comes to doing what she actually knows–performance.

    The producers gave her standing when they hired her. It's perfectly reasonable for her to add her voice to a conversation which revolves around her casting and was not even started by her.

    If the producers decide to cast another white woman in the role, that's their call. But they would face the same social media and public relations outcry as was generated by the casting of Boggess. If they wish to proceed in that fashion, Boggess' statement will not stop them. But they would have to deal with the PR consequences of such a move. We'll see what they do.

  221. I'm afraid we need to wind down this off-topic sidebar, Jake.

    But I don't see how if I'm hired by someone to do a job that gives me standing to start telling my boss what-to-do and how to run his business–especially after I decide to quit. She is nothing but hired-help who has a grand, self-important vision of her role in that mess.

    Keep in mind that no matter how the producers decide to re-cast the role, Boggess had nothing to do with it. She just wants you to think she did (if they cast a Latina). She is doing nothing more than trying to put lipstick on a pig since she was likely "forced out" of the role and didn't want it to just look like she was fired. So, instead, she represents herself as someone who wants to save the world from this injustice.

  222. The bizarre thing is that all of the trustworthy news outlets reported that this won't go into production until after Indiana Jones 5, but that movie isn't shooting until spring of next year.

    Kushner has apparently already completed his screenplay, and they're sticking with the Bernstein/Sondheim music and lyrics (maybe or maybe not including Miranda's bilingual contributions). And now they're casting the major roles. This one seems much further along than Indy 5, so it's strange that it apparently won't be filming until Fall 2019 at the earliest.

    20th Century Fox is going to continue as if it's business as usual. They can't afford to freeze until the merger concludes. If it doesn't end up going through — and there are sizable obstacles that could still cause problems — they'd be dead in the water.

  223. Adam Lenhardt

    This one seems much further along than Indy 5, so it's strange that it apparently won't be filming until Fall 2019 at the earliest.

    If it is this far along, I wonder if Spielberg might flip them and try to do this one first. He does work quickly when he puts his mind to it (see: The Post, which was filmed in its entirety last year and still ended up meeting its year-end release date.)

  224. Adam Lenhardt

    20th Century Fox is going to continue as if it's business as usual. They can't afford to freeze until the merger concludes. If it doesn't end up going through — and there are sizable obstacles that could still cause problems — they'd be dead in the water.

    This. FOX has to assume the merger won't happen. I don't think Disney would cancel this film anyway especially since it is Spielberg.

  225. I may be mistaken on the finer details, but broadly speaking, when companies like this agree to a sale like this, there are regulations in place that govern how the companies must behave while the sale is being looked into by regulators. Basically, the buyer isn't allowed to start running the company or influencing its operation until the deal is approved; while the seller isn't allowed to act differently until they're sold.

    That's a gross oversimplification but basically, by regulation, Fox can't just shut down and wait to be sold, and Disney can't start giving orders just yet. So basically, business as usual until it's official. Which means still making movies.

    I think Disney could market the hell out of a Spielberg-directed West Side Story. I don't think they'd be unhappy if they inherited that one.

  226. Josh Steinberg

    I think Disney could market the hell out of a Spielberg-directed West Side Story. I don't think they'd be unhappy if they inherited that one.

    You're right, but it doesn't fit in their current branding, so they'd either have to let Fox exist as a label to put it out, or (possibly) use Touchstone. It's just not clear what their intentions are yet with Fox, and probably won't be until the deal is closed.

    I wasn't meaning to suggest that Fox should cease to operate, but that this film is in the very beginning stages, so it's more surprising to see them starting on this one than it is, say, for X-Men or New Mutants or something more established/further along. But I get what you all are saying.

    Also, how does Fox own the rights to this property? Last time, wasn't it MGM?

  227. Some pages ago, before all the drama, I had posted a Variety article suggesting that Spielberg might do a Leonard Bernstein biopic in addition to West Side Story, either before or after it.

    Deadline now indicates that Jake Gyllenhaal will play Bernstein for director Cary Fukunaga.

    http://deadline.com/2018/05/jake-gy…aga-directing-bron-studios-cannes-1202380700/

    This appears to exist independently from any project Spielberg may or may not do, but it would be sort of odd to have two biopics about the same person coming out in short order. So maybe Spielberg will stick to West Side Story?

  228. Well, the other shoe has dropped regarding the Bernstein biopic that Variety reported a while back Spielberg may or may not direct. (I'm putting this here because we already discussed it here several pages back, before the new member drama.)

    He's producing it and Bradley Cooper is directing it and playing Bernstein — and this is in addition to the Jake Gyllenhaal one, although that one doesn't have authorization from the Bernstein estate and this one does.

    http://deadline.com/2018/05/bradley…steven-spielberg-paramount-amblin-1202387292/

    In any case, with Cooper directing, this shouldn't get in the way of Spielberg's plan to make Indy 5 and West Side Story his next two directing projects.

  229. mark brown

    What, no remake of The Sound of Music in the pipeline yet?

    Spare the thought as I had to endure the film in 70mm for 42 weeks where I worked. in the mid-sixties.Saw it more than 200 times. The recent new 70mm print is playing near where I live but it is only being shown on a cinemascope sized screen in a multiplex. Such an enormous waste of a 70mm print. It was truly amazing when we screened it on our 60 foot curved Todd-AO screen. Why are most of the remaining 70mm cinemas showing films on such tiny screens? Such a waste as SOM should be seen on the biggest screen possible in 70mm.

  230. mark brown

    What, no remake of The Sound of Music in the pipeline yet?

    Spare the thought as I had to endure the film in 70mm for 42 weeks where I worked. in the mid-sixties.Saw it more than 200 times. The recent new 70mm print is playing near where I live but it is only being shown on a cinemascope sized screen in a multiplex. Such an enormous waste of a 70mm print. It was truly amazing when we screened it on our 60 foot curved Todd-AO screen. Why are most of the remaining 70mm cinemas showing films on such tiny screens? Such a waste as SOM should be seen on the biggest screen possible in 70mm.

  231. mark brown

    What, no remake of The Sound of Music in the pipeline yet?

    Spare the thought as I had to endure the film in 70mm for 42 weeks where I worked. in the mid-sixties.Saw it more than 200 times. The recent new 70mm print is playing near where I live but it is only being shown on a cinemascope sized screen in a multiplex. Such an enormous waste of a 70mm print. It was truly amazing when we screened it on our 60 foot curved Todd-AO screen. Why are most of the remaining 70mm cinemas showing films on such tiny screens? Such a waste as SOM should be seen on the biggest screen possible in 70mm.

  232. We first encountered Audra in the original production of Ragtime in Toronto with another perfect singer Brian Stokes Mitchel. I have followed her career ever since. Beware the CD of her Broadway show based on Billie Holiday however. She imitates Billie to perfection, but doesn’t sound like herself at all.

  233. We first encountered Audra in the original production of Ragtime in Toronto with another perfect singer Brian Stokes Mitchel. I have followed her career ever since. Beware the CD of her Broadway show based on Billie Holiday however. She imitates Billie to perfection, but doesn’t sound like herself at all.

  234. We first encountered Audra in the original production of Ragtime in Toronto with another perfect singer Brian Stokes Mitchel. I have followed her career ever since. Beware the CD of her Broadway show based on Billie Holiday however. She imitates Billie to perfection, but doesn’t sound like herself at all.

  235. TJPC

    We first encountered Audra in the original production of Ragtime in Toronto with another perfect singer Brian Stokes Mitchel. I have followed her career ever since. Beware the CD of her Broadway show based on Billie Holiday however. She imitates Billie to perfection, but doesn’t sound like herself at all.

    Audra doing Billie sound good to me. I'll have to check that out.

  236. TJPC

    We first encountered Audra in the original production of Ragtime in Toronto with another perfect singer Brian Stokes Mitchel. I have followed her career ever since. Beware the CD of her Broadway show based on Billie Holiday however. She imitates Billie to perfection, but doesn’t sound like herself at all.

    Audra doing Billie sound good to me. I'll have to check that out.

  237. TJPC

    We first encountered Audra in the original production of Ragtime in Toronto with another perfect singer Brian Stokes Mitchel. I have followed her career ever since. Beware the CD of her Broadway show based on Billie Holiday however. She imitates Billie to perfection, but doesn’t sound like herself at all.

    Audra doing Billie sound good to me. I'll have to check that out.

  238. I didn't buy the Lady Day CD, but the video made of her performance (HBO? Showtime? PBS?) was amazing, and it was easy to see why she garnered one of her six Tonys for it. An Emmy should have been hers as well.

  239. Your first guess was right, Matt. Lady Day was filmed for HBO,. She was nominated for the Emmy but lost to Sarah Paulson for The People v. O.J. Simpson, which is totally understandable since Paulson was also incredible and was on a very buzzy program which had multiple nominations and wins that year. That they were both nominated and couldn't both win is a credit to the amount of talent in the category that year.

    The CD is a full recording of the show, although not the same performance as HBO documented since the taping came later. If you can find the taping, go for that, but if not the CD gives you the full audio. HBO never officially released it to DVD or Blu-ray for some reason, but you can find Emmy screeners floating around eBbay from time to time, which is where I got one. (This isn't a bootleg, as it's an official release from the network, so I want to be clear I'm not advocating for a bootleg; it was just intended for voters to watch and then destroy, which most voters probably don't do.) I doubt whoever sold it to me was allowed to do that, but they put up the listing so I don't feel bad for taking advantage of it.

  240. Ah, yes, Sarah Paulson. I remember being torn that year because they were both wonderful performances, but Paulson had lost so many times over the years that this was her best chance in years to take it home. Too bad they couldn't have tied.

  241. Audra won an Emmy for "hosting" (introducing) Live From Lincoln Center's broadcast Sweeney Todd with Brynn Tifel and Emma Thompson a couple years ago. This is because the host wins in that category automatically, but as host she really didn't have much to do other than intro the show for 30 seconds. She was in that production as the Beggar Woman, though, but that's not why she is included in the win.

    I suspect that winning another Emmy for an actual performance would mean more to her than that, and she is certainly welcome to come back to TV at any time.

    Perhaps they could record one of her concerts for PBS. I saw her in March and she was, of course, glorious. Then I met her at the stage door after and she was even nicer than she is talented. She also put out a live album, Sing Happy, with the New York Philharmonic, featuring many of the same songs as she did here, in May. It's great and I highly recommend it.

    That all being sad, maybe we should have an Aura McDonald thread somewhere, since this discussion is great, but getting away from West Side Story…

    Edit: Audra thread created here: https://www.hometheaterforum.com/community/threads/audra-mcdonald-appreciation-thread.358091/. Hope to see some of you over there.

  242. Jake Lipson

    To bring this thread back around to West Side Story matters, it looks like Spielberg won't be the only one working on a new interpretation. There will be a new Broadway production in February 2020, and in a real surprise, for the first time they're NOT going to be using the Jerome Robbins choreography:

    http://www.playbill.com/article/west-side-story-will-return-to-broadway-directed-by-ivo-van-hove

    I read that announcement and was kind of shocked. I thought the Robbins choreography was contractually part and parcel of doing an Equity production of the show. HIs dance instructions are also furnished with regional and amateur theater licenses. When I did it in the early 1990s, I BEGGED the director/choreographer to include the Shark men in "America" as in the movie (the Sharks have much less to do in the show than the Jets who have "Krupke" and "Cool" in addition to the other shared numbers between the two gangs), and he wouldn't even entertain the idea because the Robbins instructions didn't allow for it.

  243. Matt Hough

    I read that announcement and was kind of shocked. I thought the Robbins choreography was contractually part and parcel of doing an Equity production of the show.

    Normally, it is, but they must have gotten permission from the estates of the authors to do something different

    What you're talking about (putting the Sharks in America) would change the text of the show, which is not contractually allowed. You have to perform the text as written.

    The choreography is technically not text, but in this case has traditionally been attached to the show. But if the estates of the authors have okayed it, then it's all fine, which I'm sure they have or this wouldn't have been announced. It makes me really wonder what the new directing concept and choreography concept(s) are that would have to have been presented in order to get this change approved. It must be a really strong pitch to have gotten a yes.

    Also, it raises the question of whether the new film will have to have a basis in Robbins' choreography or not.

  244. Jake Lipson

    To bring this thread back around to West Side Story matters, it looks like Spielberg won't be the only one working on a new interpretation. There will be a new Broadway production in February 2020, and in a real surprise, for the first time they're NOT going to be using the Jerome Robbins choreography:

    http://www.playbill.com/article/west-side-story-will-return-to-broadway-directed-by-ivo-van-hove

    WEST SIDE STORY will be staged by Australian Opera outdoors on Sydney Harbour in March.It will be the first time that they have not staged an opera as their annual 'Opera On Sydney Harbour' event. Should be amazing being set against the background of the city

  245. cinemiracle

    WEST SIDE STORY will be staged by Australian Opera outdoors on Sydney Harbour in March.It will be the first time that they have not staged an opera as their annual 'Opera On Sydney Harbour' event.

    You'd be hard-pressed to know WSS wasn't an opera if all you knew was the Bernstein-conducted recording with Te Kanawa and Carreras.

  246. Matt Hough

    One of the absolute WORST recordings of West Side Story ever made.

    Amen.

    I think I remember that Bernstein hand-picked those two as his leading vocalists (along with Marilyn Horne and others)? No idea why he (or anyone else) would have thought that was a smart bit of casting.

  247. Malcolm R

    I thought this was a singing role? She cannot.

    I disagree with that. Her studio recordings are mostly a disaster that crank up the autotune as a stylistic choice. But the couple of times I've heard her sing without manipulation, I thought she did a lovely job.

    I don't think she's got the elocution necessary for a musical performance, though. It's a very different skillset than being a pop singer. Cabello also has Cuban and Mexican heritage, which goes against the stated mission of casting actual Puerto Ricans in the Puerto Rican roles.

    I would much rather have a talented newcomer from Puerto Rico play the role. But if they're just going for generic brown person, I'd rather someone like Auliʻi Cravalho than Cabello.

  248. Adam Lenhardt

    I would much rather have a talented newcomer from Puerto Rico play the role. But if they're just going for generic brown person, I'd rather someone like Auliʻi Cravalho than Cabello.

    I agree totally with everything you said. But if they're going the generic brown route, Auliʻi Cravalho is a great idea. The cancellation of Rise also makes her available.

  249. I wish Kushner & Spielberg would learn more about Puerto Rico and its people before tackling WSS. We are not a generic brown, ignorant population. Public school education is compulsory and English a required course. In fact, because PR was and is a colony, all courses were taught in English at least throughout the 30s. My point is that Anita, Bernardo, Maria, Chino, Consuelo, etc., knew their ABCs and could converse in both languages.
    In college I was surrounded by people whose skins ranged from magnolia to ebony and all hues in between; eyes that were green, grey, blue, brown, black, violet; hair that was blond, red, brown, black, straight curly or afro. There was nothing wrong with a Maria looking like a Carol Lawrence or a Natalie Wood. And Anita could look like Chita or Rita; Bernardo could look like the Greek Chakiris, etc., because people from all over Europe came to Puerto Rico in the 19th century, and before then there was the slave traffic from Africa and the indigenous population. But to think that everyone has to look a generic brown is totally wrong.
    Note: Puerto Ricans do not look like Pacific Islanders.

  250. Thank you for sharing your perspective, Jose! It's great to have a first-hand perspective brought to this discussion.

    bujaki

    But to think that everyone has to look a generic brown is totally wrong.
    Note: Puerto Ricans do not look like Pacific Islanders.

    Just to clarify: I wasn't saying that they should go the "generic brown" route. I think they very much should not. But if they did, she would at least have the pipes to pull off the role.

    It's also worth nothing that while Cravalho obviously identifies most strongly with her native Hawaiian ancestry, and she is culturally Hawaiian, she does have some Puerto Rican ancestry (along with Portuguese, Chinese, and Irish ancestry).

  251. Adam Lenhardt

    Thank you for sharing your perspective, Jose! It's great to have a first-hand perspective brought to this discussion.

    Just to clarify: I wasn't saying that they should go the "generic brown" route. I think they very much should not. But if they did, she would at least have the pipes to pull off the role.

    It's also worth nothing that while Cravalho obviously identifies most strongly with her native Hawaiian ancestry, and she is culturally Hawaiian, she does have some Puerto Rican ancestry (along with Portuguese, Chinese, and Irish ancestry).

    Puerto Ricans emigrated to Hawai'i circa 1900-1917 to work in the sugar industry.

  252. Adam Lenhardt

    I still hope they're going with talented unknowns.

    I agree.

    I suspect that some of the supporting roles might be filled with name actors, but Tony and Maria should hopefully be new.

    As long as the movie is good, West Side Story will sell itself, and Spelberg's name will help a lot too, so they don't need a bunch of names on the poster to put butts in seats. I hope they take the opportunity to launch the career of at least a few deserving fresh faces.

  253. Sounds like that's for the background players, but still definitely a good sign.

    I wonder if they have the big five (Maria, Tony, Bernardo, Anita, and Riff) cast already, and they're just waiting to cast the supporting roles before they announce.

    My dream casting: Rita Moreno as Madam Lucia, and Russ Tamblyn as Doc.

  254. Adam Lenhardt

    My dream casting: Rita Moreno as Madam Lucia, and Russ Tamblyn as Doc.

    Good idea. I also think it would be nice if Chita Rivera got to cameo this time around, just as a tip of the hat to her history with the show, especially since Moreno played her Broadway role in the 1961 version.

  255. Adam Lenhardt

    Sounds like that's for the background players, but still definitely a good sign.

    I wonder if they have the big five (Maria, Tony, Bernardo, Anita, and Riff) cast already, and they're just waiting to cast the supporting roles before they announce.

    My dream casting: Rita Moreno as Madam Lucia, and Russ Tamblyn as Doc.

    Might as well get Richard Beymer for Glad Hand

  256. Well, he's got the charisma, and he can dance. I don't know how good his singing voice is. I was kind of hoping that they'd cast a Tony and a Maria that could pass for real teenagers, but Elgort is at least boyish looking.

  257. Adam Lenhardt

    Well, he's got the charisma, and he can dance. I don't know how good his singing voice is. I was kind of hoping that they'd cast a Tony and a Maria that could pass for real teenagers, but Elgort is at least boyish looking.

    He's released a couple of singles. You can probably find them on iTunes or YouTube.

  258. I think based on his acting skills, he's a good choice, but I hadn't heard him as a singer until just now either. Here are a few songs from YouTube.

    This style of pop music isn't my thing, really, but his voice seems fine, even if he's not singing material that would appeal to me here.

    I'm also going to give Spielberg the benefit of the doubt here and assume he would not have given Elgort the part if his voice wasn't up to par. Presumably Spielberg has heard him sing some West Side Story material in an audition setting.

    That being said, I'm a bit surprised to see Tony being announced solo. I expected that the announcement for Tony and Maria would be made jointly.

    Who's next?

  259. I have to admit, I'm finding myself more and more excited about this than I was originally. It sounds like Spielberg and his movie-making team are doing their level-best to do justice to this remake. I'm looking forward to seeing their finished product. :thumbs-up-smiley:

  260. Jake Lipson

    I think based on his acting skills, he's a good choice, but I hadn't heard him as a singer until just now either. Here are a few songs from YouTube.

    This style of pop music isn't my thing, really, but his voice seems fine, even if he's not singing material that would appeal to me here.

    I'm also going to give Spielberg the benefit of the doubt here and assume he would not have given Elgort the part if his voice wasn't up to par. Presumably Spielberg has heard him sing some West Side Story material in an audition setting.

    That being said, I'm a bit surprised to see Tony being announced solo. I expected that the announcement for Tony and Maria would be made jointly.

    Who's next?

    Ariana GrandeView attachment 50250 for Maria ?

  261. Here's some actual traditional musical theater proof that Ansel Elgort can sing — here's his "It Takes Two" as Link Larkin in his high school (!!!) production of Hairspray.

    And "I'll Cover You Reprise" from his Stagedoor Manor summer camp production of Rent:

    All credit to Broadway.com for digging these up. More at the link below.

    https://www.broadway.com/buzz/17638…-of-the-fault-in-our-stars-stud-ansel-elgort/

  262. Jake Lipson

    […]
    That being said, I'm a bit surprised to see Tony being announced solo. I expected that the announcement for Tony and Maria would be made jointly.

    Who's next?

    That's the suspense factor in marketing at work, Jake.
    Don't forget, they don't announce all of The Nobel Prize Laureates on the same day, either.:cool:

  263. Lin actually has a history with this show. He didn't insert rap into the score when he translated it for the Spanish-language-inclusive revival in 2009, and he is certainly capable of more than one thing. He was also great in the Encores! revival of Merrily We Roll Along in 2012 and didn't rap there at all.

    That being said, being completely serious, I would not be surprised if they got him involved in some capacity or other (though the shooting schedule of this relative to In the Heights might be a factor.)

  264. Jake Lipson

    Lin actually has a history with this show. He didn't insert rap into the score when he translated it for the Spanish-language-inclusive revival in 2009, and he is certainly capable of more than one thing.

    For sure! Also worth noting that Arthur Laurents, who wrote the book for West Side Story in '57, directed the 2009 revival.

    He was the one who recruited Lin-Manuel Miranda to translate the lyrics, in consultation with Sondheim of course.

    And Laurents cast Karen Olivo, who'd originated the role of Vanessa in In the Heights, as his Anita.

  265. /Film has a thinly sourced story reporting that Elgort's Baby Driver co-star Eiza González has been cast as Anita.

    Judging solely by that movie, she's got the fire for the part. She's Mexican and not Puerto Rican, but at least she's fluent in Spanish. She's released two solo albums, and there are two music videos floating around YouTube, but neither provides any indication of whether she has the talent and range for Broadway-caliber singing.

Leave a Reply