Leachman to Go 'Dancing' with YOUNG FRANK?

By: Oct. 29, 2008
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According to The New York Post's PAGE SIX, Mel Brooks might have changed his "tune" when it comes to Cloris Leachman reprising her film role of Frau Blucher in his Broadway production of Young Frankenstein.

Last year, Mel Brooks, creator and producer of the Broadway musical comedy, told Leachman that, at 81, she was too old for the role of Frau Blucher (the character she originated in his 1974 movie). Despite a stellar audition, Brooks was concerned that Leachman didn't have the "stamina" for eight shows a week reports the Post.

But, after watching her dancing and audience popularity on the ABC hit "Dancing With the Stars," Brooks might have reconsidered his earlier opinion when it comes to having Leachman join the stage version of his comedy masterpiece.

Leachman, now 82, became the latest contestant to be voted off the "Dancing with the Stars" last night, the Oscar winner and her pro dance partner Corky Ballas had received the lowest score from the judges, 15 out of 30, for their Cha-Cha, on Monday's show.

When the scores were combined with viewers' votes, crowd favorites Leachman and Ballas were still at the bottom of the board. On hearing the news, Leachman said: "You know, I'm not leaving. I'm going to get a pretty costume and be here next week."

Singer Toni Braxton, chef Rocco DiSpirito, reality TV star Kim Kardashian, actor Ted McGinley and comedian Jeffrey Ross have already been booted from the long running television hit.

According to Broadway gossip site billymasters.com, "Mel has reached out to Leachman to see if they could make a deal - which I'm sure has nothing to do with the show's somewhat soft box office."

But Leachman, reports PAGE SIX, is being inundated with offers - including a role in Quentin Tarantino's "Inglorious Bastards," an eponymous one-woman show, and the grand marshal gig in the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year's Day - is taking her time in deciding if she'll accept the reported offer to join Young Frankenstein'. Her exit from ‘Dancing' might just speed her choice in regards to a decision.

Leachman's reps told the Post, "Cloris has received several interesting offers. We cannot confirm that 'Young Frankenstein' is one of them. For the time being, Cloris is focusing all her attention on dancing." Press reps for Young Frankenstein didn't return calls to the New York Post.

She was said to be "heartbroken" over the rejection, and noted that at a dinner party in 2006, Brooks told guests, "Cloris is going to steal the show - all she has to do is walk on the stage - she'll bring the house down."

Leachman, who originated the role of Frau Blucher in Mel Brooks' classic film Young Frankenstein – was reportedly let go from the show.  She had previously performed as Frau Blucher in the musical's workshop.

Liz Smith of the New York Post had written during the show's pre-production: "The producers were so intent on having Cloris reprise her role as the hilariously sinister Frau Blucher that they flew her to New York at the end of last year for a table reading, where she brought down the house.   This week the veteran Ms. Leachman, 80 years old, received a 'Dear John' letter from the future production of Young Frankenstein saying the producers, in their wisdom, had decided to keep their two properties - Young Frankenstein the movie, and Young Frankenstein the stage musical - apart. So they said they would not be offering her the role after all. Cloris is disappointed, I'm told, but handling the rejection with her usual good humor. In any case she is up for the Screen Actors Guild Award for her outstanding work in HBO's 'Mrs. Harris,' which starred Annette Bening."

There was even a website, www.savefraublucher.com, no longer active, that pressed for her casting. It offered Leachman fans the chance to write in and express their wishes that Leachman play the role of Frau Blucher in the Broadway musical. 

Leachman, who won an Oscar for 1971's The Last Picture Show, has won eight Emmy Awards, with one for "Malcolm in the Middle" being her latest.  She famously played Phyllis on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," and her many Broadway credits include A Touch of the Poet, King of Hearts and As You Like It. 

Young Frankenstein, inspired by the famed Mary Shelley novel, concerns the skeptical neurosurgeon grandson of Dr. Victor Frankenstein, who returns to Frankenstein's castle to find that the legendary monster was more than just a myth.  The comedy, which was directed by Brooks with a screenplay by Brooks and Gene Wilder, starred Wilder, Peter Boyle, Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman, Leachman, Teri Garr and Kenneth Mars. It is considered a comedic classic to this day.

Photo of Cloris Leachman and Corky Ballas courtesy of ABC Television.