Movie Musicals Are Alive And Well: Gyllenhaal And Carrey's Damn Yankees Moves Forward; Crowe And Beyonce For A Star Is Born?

Nine may have crapped out at the box office last year, but the movie musical isn't dead by a long shot. There has been news this week that Russell Crowe may be the comically unlikely leading man to appear opposite Beyonce in a new version of A Star is Born, for one. (That may end up being a romantic drama with musical overtones, rather than a full-on musical.) And now a report says that New Line is tapping Bandslam director Todd Graf to oversee the new film version of Damn Yankees, which has long had Jim Carrey and Jake Gyllenhaal attached.Deadline Hollywood talks about Damn Yankees, expressing some interest that Graf, who has never directed a big-budget film, has been tapped to direct. But he's got stage experience (and a Tony nomination for his work in the musical Baby) and Bandslam was said to be a much better movie than Summit's High School Musical knock-off marketing made it out to be.

If he can keep Gyllenhaal and Carey on board, this could be...interesting? Gyllenhaal would be the baseball fan who makes a deal with the devil to become a great ballplayer and lead his favorite team to the World Series, while Carrey would be the devil.

And then there's the A Star is Born news, which sounds like an insane exercise in miscasting, but maybe I've just got Crowe's rock effort 30 Odd Ft. of Grunts in mind. He'd be "an aging, alcoholic musician who mentors/is schooled by — and then finds romance with — a younger female star," played by Beyonce. Nick Cassavetes has been in talks to direct, from a new script by Will Fetters. [LAT]

As far as commentary goes, I like film musicals, but can't get excited about either of these projects. The musical is a really great way to tell a story, as big chunks of plot can be compressed into a five-minute song, and there's always the potential for entertaining physical spectacle. Rather than continuing the endless cycle of going back to old stories (a musical tradition, to some extent) I'd be much more excited to see the musical pushed forward somehow. Not likely to happen, though, given the ratio of expense to risk when mounting one on a large scale. At least we're not seeing the career of the other Damn Yankees immortalized on screen. Yet.