Director Rob Marshall is returning to movie musicals -- he directed the Oscar-winning Chicago, then was less successful with Memoirs of a Geisha. His new project, Nine, is (like Chicago) an adaptation of a Broadway musical, but the stage production of Nine is itself a reworking of the Federico Fellini film 8 1/2. The Weinstein Company has just announced the writer who will adapt Nine for the big screen: Michael Tolkin, whose script credits include Changing Lanes, Deep Impact and Gleaming the Cube. However, Tolkin is probably best known for his novel The Player, which he also adapted into a movie, and followed up with a sequel book last year, The Return of the Player.

I had never heard of the musical Nine before, which was originally staged on Broadway in 1982 starring Raul Julia (sigh ... I miss him) and won several Tony awards. The New York Public Library site has a very revealing photo of Anita Morris from the production. Like the Fellini movie, Nine is about a film director (not at all like Fellini) who is blocked on his current project and finds help by fantasizing about the women from his past. A 2003 revival starred Antonio Banderas. No news yet on casting -- I'm wondering if Banderas is still considered a viable option for the lead in the movie. I like him even in dumb movies like Take the Lead, and it would be delightful to see him in a musical like this one. The Weinstein Company says that the casting choices will influence whether the movie is released at the end of 2008 or later, and I am sure that with Marshall at the helm, they are thinking "Oscar season."