Wouldn’t Billy Crystal and John Travolta make a cute couple? It may happen on screen in the movie version of the Broadway hit Hairspray. According to Variety, Crystal and Aretha Franklin are the latest big names in talks to play supporting roles in the musical about a plus-sized teen who integrates a teen-dance TV show in 1962 Baltimore. Crystal would play the heroine’s father, Wilbur Turnblad, who has a sweet, second-act duet with his wife, Edna, traditionally played by a man in drag. (Dick Latessa and Harvey Fierstein won Tonys as Wilbur and Edna on Broadway; Jerry Stiller and Divine played the couple in the original 1988 John Waters movie.) The role of Edna hasn’t been cast yet, though Travolta is the leading contender to play the hefty housewife.
As for Franklin, she’d play Motormouth Maybelle, the record-store owner and R&B DJ whose son raises eyebrows by romancing a white girl. (R&B legend Ruth Brown played the role on film, while Mary Bond Davis created the role on Broadway and is still playing the character two and a half years later.) Still no word on who’d play the lead role of Tracy Turnblad, played by Ricki Lake on screen and Marissa Jaret Winokur in her Tony-winning turn on Broadway. The film is scheduled to shoot in September.