Jon Robin Baitz Set to Pen New Play for Expected Broadway Run

Jon Robin Baitz Set to Pen New Play for Expected Broadway Run

Writer Jon Robin Baitz is currently in the works of authoring a new play about Hollywood film producer Robert Evans, according to The New York Times. Evans worked on such films as Rosemary's Baby, Love Story, The Godfather and Chinatown and was also well known for his much-publicized seven marriages. The play is expected to open during the 2010-2011 Broadway season.

The play is expected to be based on Evans' memoirs, entitled
"The Kid Stays in the Picture" and "The Fat Lady Sang." John N. Hart Jr. is signed on as a producer and Richard Eyre is expected to direct.

"There are a number of actors who have the chops to [play Evans]. . . [Evans' story] has something of Don Quixote about it, Don Quixote and Casanova. It's very alluring as a project, the story is magnificent, and almost absurd at the same time," Eyre said in his conversation with the Times.

Evans began his career as an independent producer, buying rights to novels and turning them into films. When Evans took over as Head of Production for Paramount, the floundering studio was the ninth largest. Under his leadership, Paramount became one of the most successful studios in Hollywood and Evans transformed it into a very profitable enterprise for Gulf+Western. During his tenure at Paramount, the studio turned out films such as Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, The Italian Job, True Grit, Love Story, Harold and Maude, Serpico, The Conversation, Save the Tiger, The Great Gatsby, Rosemary's Baby, The Godfather, and many others.

Unsatisfied with his financial compensation coupled with a desire to produce films under his own banner, Evans struck a deal with Paramount that enabled him to stay on as studio head while also working as an independent producer. Other producers at Paramount felt this gave Evans an unfair advantage. Eventually Evans stepped down, which enabled him to produce films on his own. He went on to produce such films as: Chinatown, Marathon Man, Black Sunday, Popeye, Urban Cowboy, The Cotton Club, The Two Jakes, Sliver, Jade, The Phantom, The Saint, and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.

Baitz is an author for both stage and television. Baitz wrote and directed the two-character play Three Hotels, based on his parents, for a presentation of PBS's "American Playhouse", then reworked the material for the stage, earning another Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding New Play for his efforts. In 1993, he co-scripted (with Howard A. Rodman) The Frightening Frammis, which was directed by Tom Cruise and aired as an episode of the Showtime anthology series Fallen Angels. Two years later, Henry Jaglom cast him as a gay playwright who achieves success at an early age - a character inspired by Baitz himself - in the film Last Summer in the Hamptons; the following year he appeared as Michelle Pfeiffer's business associate in the screen comedy One Fine Day. In 1996, he was one of the three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for his semi-autobiographical play A Fair Country.

Subsequent stage works include Mizlansky/Zilinsky or "Schmucks", a revised version of Mizlansky/Zilinsky directed by Baitz's then-life partner Joe Mantello (1998), a new adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler (first at L.A.'s Geffen Playhouse with Annette Bening in 1999, then at Long Island's Bay Street Theater with Kate Burton in 2000, followed by a Broadway production with the same star the following year), Ten Unknowns (2001), starring Donald Sutherland and Juliana Margulies, and The Paris Letter (2005) with Ron Rifkin and John Glover. His screenplays include the adaptation of his own Substance of Fire (1996), with Tony Goldwyn and Timothy Hutton joining original cast members Rifkin and Parker, and People I Know (2003), which starred Al Pacino.

Baitz's occasional work writing for such television series as The West Wing and Alias led to his present position as creator and executive producer of the ABC TV drama Brothers & Sisters, which premiered in September 2006.

Baitz is the New School for Drama's artist in residence for the 2009-2010 school year.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride

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