Clint Eastwood In Talks To Bring ‘Jersey Boys’ To The Screen

Mark Deming
Movie Talk

No one has ever said Clint Eastwood doesn't know how to Walk Like A Man, and he may be putting that knowledge to work for his next directorial project.

In a surprising announcement, it was revealed Friday that Eastwood is in talks to direct a screen adaptation of "Jersey Boys," the hit Broadway show about the career of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, the vocal group who scored hits with "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Sherry," "Walk Like A Man," and "Working My Way Back To You." The show, which was an immediate hit after opening on Broadway in 2005, has been passed through several hands at several studios so far, but with Eastwood taking a keen interest in "Jersey Boys," it may be coming to the screen sooner than later.

The word that Eastwood is considering "Jersey Boys" comes after the veteran tough guy and celebrated filmmaker put a planned remake of "A Star Is Born" on hold. Eastwood was reportedly eager to cast jazz bassist Esperanza Spaulding as the rising star, but had trouble finding an A-list leading man who fit for the project (Sean Penn is said to have been offered the role but declined). With "A Star Is Born" in limbo, Eastwood is seemingly finding a new venue for his ideas for a musical.

While Eastwood has never shown much interest in early rock 'n' roll, his passion for jazz is well documented. He directed the 1988 biopic "Bird" about legendary sax player Charlie Parker, helmed an episode of the PBS series "The Blues" on great blues pianists, and collaborated with Charlotte Zwerin on an excellent documentary on Thelonious Monk, "Straight No Chaser." Eastwood also played a country singer in his 1982 drama "Honkytonk Man," co-starred in the 1969 musical "Paint Your Wagon" (Eastwood and Lee Marvin both did their own vocals in the picture), and even cut a handful of singles as a would-be pop star during his early days as a TV actor.

As for "Jersey Boys," the musical was at one point set to be produced by Graham King for Columbia Pictures, with Jon Favreau as director. But when King signed a deal with Warner Bros., he took "Jersey Boys" with him, only to see the studio put the picture in turnaround. King was at one point thought to be taking the project to 20th Century Fox, but with Eastwood in talks as director, chances are good it will go back to Warners, where Eastwood has had a long and successful working relationship.

No word yet on who will play Valli and his vocal partners in the movie, though it's a safe bet that the name Justin Timberlake will pop up somewhere in the casting process.