Sunday, August 30, 2009

Oscar Winners Abound 'NINE' | Variety 08/24

Can lightning strike twice? Rob Marshall, who took the seemingly unfilmable Broadway musical "Chicago" to Oscar-winning heights in 2002, is expected by many to do the same for "Nine," the Tony-winning musical adaptation of Federico Fellini's semiautobiographical "."

"Nine" composer-lyricist Maury Yeston was realistic about handing his baby over to the movies. "It was incredibly important to understand that film is a director's art, that (Marshall) be able to adapt this stage musical and make a film independent of an overcontrolling Broadway author looking over his shoulder," he concedes. "That's the very first thing I said to Rob."

Still, the film offered Yeston another chance to extend his lifelong obsession with Fellini's classic. He began working on the musical in 1973, won a Tony for its score in 1982 and tinkered with it for the 2003 Broadway revival. Having worked with Raul Julia in the original and Antonio Banderas in the revival, he was especially aware of "the impact of what some of the casting choices might be on the score."

The result was three new songs

"Rob's idea of a musical is that people don't sing to each other in real life, so he doesn't want them singing to each other in his reality of that life," Sullivan says. "So we go to a stage, and this is all happening inside of Guido's mind and his fantasies. The way he sees his world is through theatrics, through this music."

Music director Paul Bogaev's biggest job was working with the actors and preparing them to record the songs before shooting. Cruz, for example, was auditioned for the film star but wound up as the mistress; Cotillard auditioned for the producer but was cast as the wife.

Much of the speculation about "Nine" has dealt with star Day-Lewis: Can he sing? "He's got a wonderful voice," Bogaev says. "He had never done anything (musically) except sing in choirs, but he works harder than anybody." Bogaev worked with him every day for weeks prior to recording.

But Day-Lewis is nothing if not a Method actor. One day during shooting at London's Shepperton Studios,"Rob and I got called into Daniel's dressing room, which was designed as a 1960s film director's office," says Sullivan. "He's smoking a cigarette, in full outfit and in character, and he's telling us how he would like to see this number that he's performing. And he's talking to us as Guido Contini. It was a really surreal experience."

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