Sorkin to Pen Flaming Lips Musical; McAnuff Directs

By: Mar. 21, 2007
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Aaron Sorkin, Des McAnuff and The Flaming Lips will collaborate on creating a new stage musical inspired by the cult favorite gold-certified rock album "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" by The Flaming Lips. Wayne Coyne, Steven Drozd and Michael Ivins - The Flaming Lips - are doing the music and lyrics for the legitimate theatre production. Sorkin and McAnuff are writing the book. McAnuff will direct. The powerhouse creative team is currently at work on the project which is represented by the William Morris Agency.

Sorkin, who got his start on Broadway with the cause-celeb "A Few Good Men," went on to create the groundbreaking television series "The West Wing" and "Sports Night." He also created "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" for television and several films, including "American President" and "Malice." McAnuff is the two-time Tony Award® winning director best known for the smash hit musicals Jersey Boys and Tommy. The Farnsworth Invention is a new play written by Sorkin and directed by McAnuff that is currently onstage at La Jolla Playhouse where McAnuff is artistic director.

"Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots" is the tenth album by The Flaming Lips. Characterized by majestic rock music, the smart lyrics tell a story of the fictional character Yoshimi and her battle against evil. The Flaming Lips are known for their outrageous theatricality and special effects when performing live.

"I'm very proud to have introduced Aaron Sorkin to Wayne Coyne -two of America's uniquely creative minds. I'm a real fan of Wayne's and The Flaming Lips and I passionately believe that Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots will make a fresh and exciting theatre piece," said Des McAnuff. "Having Aaron Sorkin as the book writer is really beyond my wildest dreams. Recently, Aaron and I have had a terrific time working together on his play, The Farnsworth Invention, and Yoshimi will provide us with a whole new genre to explore."

The project grew out of McAnuff's love for The Flaming Lips music. At the Broadway opening night party for Jersey Boys, McAnuff and his band performed three songs from "Yoshimi."

Aaron Sorkin grew up in Scarsdale, a suburb of New York City where he was very involved in his high school drama and theater club. After graduating from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater, Sorkin intended to pursue a career in acting. It took him only a short time to realize that his true love, and his true talent, lay in writing. His first play, "Removing All Doubt", was not an immediate success, but his second play, "Hidden in This Picture", debuted in 1988 at the West Bank Cafe Downstairs Theater Bar. A longer version of "Hidden in This Picture", called "Making Movies", opened at the Promenade Theater in 1990. Despite his youth and relative inexperience, Sorkin was about to break into the spotlight. In 1989 he received the prestigious Outer Critics Circle award as Outstanding American Playwright for the stage version of "A Few Good Men", which was later nominated for a Golden Globe. The idea for the plot of "A Few Good Men" came from a conversation with his older sister Deborah. Deborah was a Navy Judge Advocate General lawyer sent to Guantanamo Bay on a case involving Marines accused of killing fellow Marine. Deborah told Aaron of the case and he spent the next year and a half writing a Broadway play, which later led to the movie. Sorkin has gone on to write for many movies and TV shows. Besides A Few Good Men (1992) he has written The American President (1995) and Malice (1993), as well as cooperating on Enemy of the State (1998), The Rock (1996) and Excess Baggage (1997). In addition, he was invited by Steven Spielberg to "polish" the script of Schindler's List (1993). Sorkin's TV credits include Golden Globe-nominated "The West Wing" (1999) and "Sports Night" (1998).

Des McAnuff is a two-time Tony Award-winning director. McAnuff served as artistic director of La Jolla Playhouse from its 1983 rebirth through 1994, during which time he directed 21 productions. Under his leadership, the Playhouse has won the 1993 Tony Award as America's Outstanding Regional Theatre. McAnuff returned as artistic director of the Playhouse in 2001. Productions directed by McAnuff include How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (Playhouse 1994, Broadway 1995, five Tony Award nominations), The Who's Tommy (director as well as co-author with Pete Townsend; Playhouse 1992, Broadway 1993, Tony Award Best Director of a Musical, London Olivier Award Best Director 1994), A Walk in the Woods (Playhouse 1987, Broadway 1988, Moscow 1989), and Big River (Playhouse 1984, Broadway 1985, seven Tony Awards including Best Director of a Musical and Best Musical). Recent productions include Moliere's Tartuffe (2002) starring Jefferson Mays; Dracula, The Musical (2001, Broadway 2004); Zhivago (2005); Palm Beach (2005); Jersey Boys (2004; Broadway 2005); Billy Crystal: 700 Sundays (2004; Broadway 2005, 2005 Tony Award). McAnuff's first feature film was 1998's Cousin Bette, starring Jessica Lange. In 1999, he produced Warner Bros. film Iron Giant, which went on to win nine 1999 Annie Awards and a 1999 BAFTA Award from the British Academy. In 2001, McAnuff directed The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, starring Robert DeNiro, Jason Alexander and Rene Russo, and served as executive producer for Quills (named Best Picture by the National Board of Review). His latest production, Jersey Boys, is currently running to sold-out houses on Broadway (2006 Tony Award for Best Musical).

THE FLAMING LIPS was formed in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1983 and are a Grammy-award winning American alternative rock band. Although the Flaming Lips take an indie rock/post-punk approach to rock music, the band is known for their lush, multi-layered, psychedelic arrangements, spacey lyrics and bizarre song and album titles (for example, "Pilot Can at the Queer of God", "Free Radicals (A Hallucination of the Christmas Skeleton Pleading with A Suicide Bomber)" or "Yeah, I Know It's A Drag... But Wastin' Pigs Is Still Radical"). They are also acclaimed for their elaborate live shows featuring fursuits, balloons, puppets, video projections, complex stage light configurations, and large amounts of confetti. In 2002, Q magazine named The Flaming Lips one of the "50 Bands to See Before You Die". The group recorded several albums and EPs on an indie label in the 1980s and early 1990s. After signing to Warner Brothers, they scored a hit in 1993 with "She Don't Use Jelly". Although it has been their only hit single in the U.S., the band has maintained critical respect and, to a lesser extent, commercial viability through albums such as 1999's The Soft Bulletin and 2002's Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. They have also had more hit singles in the UK and Europe than in the U.S. Despite press coverage for the band being quiet in comparison to recent years, they were nominated for a Brit Award in February 2007 for the "Best International Act" category.

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Photo - Aaron Sorkin