By Sarah Sluis
Call it The Bad and the Beautiful meets The Valley of the Dolls, with a little bit of Walk the Line thrown in. Anne Hathaway will play Judy Garland in both a film and a stage adaptation of Get Happy, a
production based on the biography of the star penned by Gerard Clark. The Weinstein Company, which has recently been dipping into Broadway for film adaptations (upcoming Nine and August: Osage County) will produce. Apparently Hathaway's "impromptu" singing during the Oscars reminded viewers that she can in fact carry a tune, and has contributed songs in the past for her children's movies Ella Enchanted and Hoodwinked.
Judy Garland's life seems to be an exercise in contrasts: she was an incredibly talented performer, starring in dozens of movies, including a few that regularly show up on "Top 100" lists: The Wizard of Oz, Meet Me in St. Louis, and A Star is Born. Behind the scenes, she had the multiple marriages that seem to characterize female Hollywood stars, was cheated and manipulated by those who worked with her, and struggled with an addiction to amphetamines unscrupulously supplied by the studio. For those who grew up with images of Garland as Dorothy Gale or singing in wholesome Midwestern musical Meet Me in St. Louis, reconciling those images can be difficult. There's a chance that the Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
aspect of Judy Garland will take over in the adaptation, overshadowing her great contributions to film history as a performer. Since the project has yet to attach a writer or director to lend a vision to the project, it's difficult to know how it will be approached creatively. What interests me is the idea of using songs originally sung by her within the context of her personal life, an approximation of the repurposing in Mamma Mia!. While I can't think of an appropriate place for "The Trolley Song," I'm looking forward to the inevitable inclusion of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." With Hathaway booked for at least three films, it will be at least 2011 before the project comes to fruition. With the expense of a stage production much less than a film production, I expect that the Garland story would open on Broadway and be tweaked before it moves into a film adaptation