The premise is simple. A fictional West End musical called Dogs will be made into a feature film. What could go wrong?
The original TV comedy emerged from an idle question posed to producer David Livingston (the man behind Brasik, the Academy Award-winning Judy and Pride): How did the movie version of Cats come to be? “Decisions are made as you run down the aisles,” Livingstone told me.
He later discussed this question with his wife, and during that conversation came a moment of light.
We should be doing a TV series about making a movie, based on a huge, long-running musical. . . And we should call them dogs.
Gary Barlow initially wrote four dog songs; Then create more
The original TV comedy emerged from an idle question posed to producer David Livingston (pictured)
It was created by Sean Gray, who served as writer and co-executive producer on Armando Iannucci’s hit series Veep, and also collaborated on The Thick Of It.
Gray was engaged to write, and Gary Barlow had penned several songs for the musical in him. “It’s funny and poignant at the same time,” Livingston said of the show, which focuses on “the nature of ambition and fame.”
Barlow, who is currently taking his solo show A Different Stage across the country (heading out to the Duke of York in London’s West End in late August), has written four songs for Dogs; Then they created more, as more gray scripts arrived. “There are new songs for each episode,” he explained.
He and Livingston stressed that they are not joke songs. “They wrote from the point of view of dogs,” Livingston said. They will not disclose which breeds are included in the show within the show which are dogs.
But the producer assured me that “dog lovers will love it.”
Now, I know you’re reading this on April 1st, but this project is real, and has been in the works for at least two years – since Tom Hooper’s adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s record-breaking cats (based on Old TS Eliot’s Possum’s Book Of Practical Cats) to critical scorn in 2019.
Fur flew when Lloyd Webber distanced himself from the film, blaming its failure on Hopper’s feet.
But dogs aren’t just cats under a different skin. It’s a whole new breed of show. No real animals would get hurt during the setup of the program—which could shoot at the end of this year—though I’m sure some human egos were bruised.
Hummingbirds steal Gary’s heart
Gary Oldman said one of the pleasures of working on the amazingly good series Slow Horses (which premieres on AppleTV+ today) is that the filming schedule allowed him to take a long break once in a while.
Two books of Mick Heron’s Slow House series of spy novels have so far been filmed – the first, Slow Horses; and the second, Dead Lions – six episodes each.
Gary Oldman said that one of the pleasures of working on the Slow Horses series was that the filming schedule allowed him to take a long break occasionally.
One of the hobbies that the Oscar-winning actor enthusiastically pursued is photography. He said it was his “passion” to print pictures “the old-fashioned way” on glass.
To that end, he has a studio complete with darkroom. In addition to an old ambulance that was converted into a mobile development unit. He’s also been busy taking care of two hummingbirds—nicknamed Bill and Ben—who were found abandoned in a nest in a citrus tree on his Palm Springs property.
“They need to be fed every two hours,” he told me, while explaining how he and his wife, Giselle, set alarms so they could do their homework. “They are indoors, away from the dogs, and I have kept them safe.” We’ll let them go soon, when they’re strong enough.
Oldman said he had “no complaints” about his life. “I’ve been luckier than most,” he said, indicating that he is proud of his children (“They’re good people”); Proud to have stopped drinking (haven’t touched a drop in 25 years).
Although he won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, and accolades for his smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Jackson Lamb is believed to be the best role he has ever played. The author visited the group at some point, and mentioned the title of Jackson Lamb’s latest tale.
“He said he called it Bad Actors – that’s not a comment for us!” Oldman said.
Are you still watching Will?
Will Smith disgraced himself with shocking, violent behavior at the Academy Awards last Sunday night.
But you might still want to see his new movie called Emancipation, which is due out by Apple Films later this year.
I hear it’s very good. Even better than the Oscar-winning movie King Richard.
People will face an ethical dilemma here. How do you separate performance on screen from behavior in public? Can you rejoice while condemning the other?
The problem for Apple (and Smith) is that their man, in this film about a runaway slave, won’t be shedding the shackles of his reckless and dishonorable revolution anytime soon. The fact that he did it in front of two billion people, on live television, is beyond comprehension.
The stars who saved the Kristen Film Project
After a series of setbacks, Kristin Scott Thomas’ dream directorial debut is back in full force – with Sienna Miller and Scarlett Johansson signed on to star in her film.
But there’s a twist: It’s not the project I started with.
The lady of the screen spent years adapting Elizabeth Jane Howard’s 1959 novel The Sea Change, a story of love and tragedy involving a married couple mourning the death of their daughter whose life is changed by the arrival of a mysterious young woman.
But Scott Thomas wasn’t able to fund that movie – though she did make a complete cinematic makeover of Howard’s book, in the manner of Anthony Minghella’s interpretation of Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient.
After a string of setbacks, Kristin Scott Thomas’s dream directorial debut appears
She and Ralph Fiennes were adorable in the 1996 Oscar-winning picture, and she once told me she loved the fact that “the movie stands completely on its own.” Now, Scott Thomas has written a movie based on a story of her own. She is currently known as Untitled Kristin Scott Thomas.
Miller and Johansson will join Emily Beecham, who won Best Actress at Cannes three years ago for Little Joe, to play three sisters. The story’s secrecy is kept closely guarded, even as to whether or not the picture is somehow based on Chekhov’s play.
Scott Thomas has spent years raising money for Howard’s book project, only to have her hopes dashed time and time again. But she did get funding for the new, untitled project — thanks to producer Finola Dwyer. And just as importantly, the stars are rallying around her cause.
Scott Thomas has been involved in pre-production duties with her chief actors and creatives, ensuring the cameras are running this summer, and key scenes are shot in and around London and the Home Counties. (The locations in Howard’s book—which include London, New York, and the Greek island of Hydra—were probably too expensive.)
Meanwhile, Scott Thomas helped launch the excellent spy drama Slow Horses, which is streaming on Apple TV+ as of today.
Scarlett Johansson is one of three stars signed on to portray three sisters in the movie
Sienna Miller and Emily Beecham have signed on to star in the Scott Thomas film
Appearing alongside Gary Oldman, she gave one of the best performances of his career as Jackson Lamb, sort of an unflattering version of George Smiley.
Scott Thomas plays his cunning boss, Diana Taverner, known to customers (not fondly) as “Lady D.”
Meanwhile, Miller has a prestige TV production of her own – Anatomy Of A Scandal – about to launch. The miniseries, which airs on Netflix April 15, also co-stars Rupert Friend and Michelle Dockery.
It’s time to take my last bow
This is the last piece in my last column.
When David English, architect of the modern Daily Mail, finally persuaded me to join him, after I had turned down his approaches twice, he said: Give me two years.
Well, my dad was a certified accountant, but I obviously didn’t inherit the math gene.
I got confused. I thought in English it meant 38. That’s how long you and I have been together, dear reader.
I’m not going to go on and on about all the people I met in those 38 years, because this list is longer than my career.
But I was lucky. Lucky to meet and work with so many great people. I am fortunate to have benefited from the kindness of many friends, both in and out of this paper.
I’m also fortunate to have such loyal readers who I’ve discovered are just as passionate about theatre, film, television and music as I am.
I loved that they don’t always agree with me. Robert Altman said that the best art is always divided. I think that’s right.
I also believe (as Mrs. Wilkinson did in Billy Elliot) in the transformative power of art. Although we are now in an age when culture can also do harm.
Someone asked me recently if old TV shows like Fawlty Towers or Till Death Us Do Part should be adapted; With bits some committees deeming offensive, they have been excised. no!
the ancient must know him; Young children must learn it. You can’t watch the past. How do we move forward, as we must, if we cannot comprehend all the light and dark corners of our history?
I’m grateful that the Daily Mail decided, early on, just to allow me to continue what I’m doing. They gave me, my editors, the tools and freedom upon which my fortune was based.
I can go see a show or a movie dozens of times, if I want to. And I wanted it. I wanted to know as much about that young artist in the back of the choir line as center stage. Being here for so long has allowed me to pursue full careers.
And now I’d better finish this, before my luck runs out. You are all lucky too.
See you all the way