If you want to put Oscar producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan in a box, you'll need a whole set. The pair do Broadway (''How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying''), TV (''Smash,'' Lifetime's ''Drop Dead Diva'' and remake of ''Steel Magnolias''), and films (''Chicago,'' ''Footloose''). When they're not prepping for the Feb. 24 Academy Awards with host Seth MacFarlane, the Storyline Entertainment duo are busy prepping everything from biopics to monster musicals.
”We have a concept for the evening,” Zadan says. ”A lot of the shows have been awards, awards, awards — and then film clips. We actually want it to tell a story.” That story? Still hush-hush for now. ”We want there to be memorable moments, we want there to be emotions, and we want there to be humanity,” Meron adds. ”Easier said than done, but in the abstract that’s what we want to accomplish.”
The Anna Nicole Smith Story
The Lifetime biopic will star Agnes Bruckner as the ill-fated supermodel and Martin Landau as her elderly billionaire husband. ”One would jump to the conclusion that it’s some kind of exploitation movie,” Zadan says. ”It’s not. The way we pitched it was the Anna Nicole Smith story as Star 80,” the 1983 drama about murdered Playboy model Dorothy Stratten.
Bonnie & Clyde
This Lifetime/History channel production, which rivals a Fox series about the outlaws, is still being cast, and points to the producers’ eclectic tastes. ”That’s a miniseries, not a musical,” Zadan says with a laugh. While Miley Cyrus met with them about the project, reports that she had been cast — and then subsequently dropped out — are false.
One of two feature films the pair are developing, this one set up at Universal is based on a Mattel toy line. ”They’re the children of the famous monsters of the world, and we’re doing it as a musical,” Zadan says. Meron describes it as ”Hairspray meets Beetlejuice meets Grease.”
Beach Boys Musical
They previously made a TV biopic about the singing group (2000’s The Beach Boys: An American Family), but this film being developed at Fox 2000 tells the story of a fictional couple from that era, set to the band’s music. Explains Meron, ”It’s in the tradition of Mamma Mia!”