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Steven Spielberg has committed to his next film, and it will be an adaptation of the Mary Chase Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Harvey,” which will be done as a co-production between 20th Century Fox and DreamWorks.

It is the first screenplay by the bestselling novelist Jonathan Tropper.

It is the story of an amiable eccentric, Elwood P. Dowd, and his friendship with a six and one-half foot tall invisible rabbit, and how it affects every member of his family and community. The play won the Pulitzer Prize in 1944, and was previously turned into the 1950 Universal film that starred Jimmy Stewart and Josephine Hull.

Project will be produced by Spielberg and Don Gregory, with Elizabeth Gabler and Carla Hacken overseeing for Fox 2000, which acquired the rights in 2008.

“I am very happy to be working again with my friend Tom Rothman who shepherded us through `Minority Report,’ and with Elizabeth and Carla, who I’m looking forward to collaborating with,” Spielberg said. “DreamWorks has experienced a creative and profitable relationship with 20th Century Fox in the past, and I look forward to renewing that time together.”

While DreamWorks has several pictures that Spielberg loves--the Abraham Lincoln project is one--those pictures weren't ready, and Spielberg wanted to get back to work quickly. He has a strong relationship with Rothman, who with his partner Jim Gianopulos worked with Spielberg and his DreamWorks partner Stacey Snider to bring "Harvey" came together in remarkably speedy fashion, with casting and pre-production to begin immediately, and production starting in early 2010.

"Don Gregory entrusted us with these precious rights, Beth Gabler and Carla Hacken developed an exceptional screenplay and Jim and I had the easy part: Deciding to go first, before anyone else, to a filmmaker who combines the mastery of craft, tone, wit and insight that `Harvey' embodies," Rothman said. "Steven Spielberg is film's greatest humanist. And we feel blessed as Elwood himself to be collaborating with him, Stacey, and everyone at DreamWorks.

The picture gets DreamWorks and its new funding and distribution arrangement with Reliance and Disney off the ground. The film will be 50% financed by DreamWorks' backer Reliance, with DreamWorks either getting domestic or international and Fox keeping the other. The DreamWorks distribution and marketing will be handled by Disney through its deal with Spielberg and Snider.   

Said Snider: "This is a story relevant for all times, perhaps more so than ever before. We are so pleased to be able, with Fox, to be bringing this to today's audiences."

Tropper's books include "The Book of Joe," "Everything Changes," "Plan B," "How to Talk to a Widower," and his new book, "This is Where I Leave You," will be published this month.


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Why? Have we truly run out of ideas? The original is classic and iconic and does NOT need a remake.

That said, I suppose I should be grateful it's not being modernized with a 6ft tall CGI rabbit that spews fire while looking for a ring and carrying an AK-47.

Played by Megan Fox.

"That said, I suppose I should be grateful it's not being modernized with a 6ft tall CGI rabbit that spews fire while looking for a ring and carrying an AK-47.

Played by Megan Fox."

--All shots of the rabbit will be shot in slow motion with a sophisticated new algorithm controlling the drape of the fabric of her low-cut top.

How is Speilberg going to find an actor stupid enough to want to be compared to Jimmy Stewart? No one, I repeat, no one has the same "aw shucks" charm that Stewart possessed so genuinely in "Harvey." He might as well just cast Megan Fox and call the whole thing a joke.

Even the ususal snider soundbite is weak on this one. relevant, how?

Yes, but if anyone could remake the classic, it's Spielberg. I am looking forward to what he does. After all, if it doesn't live up to the original, it's Spielberg that gets hurt - we still have the original to go back to. You're right, though - who would want to try to live up to Jimmy Stewart in that role? It'll probably be Jim Carrey.

This is obviously a role meant for Tom Hanks. Jim Carrey no longer can elicit empathy as an next-door everyman.

Giamatti would be good as he still has that Richard Dreyfus-y "Close Encounters/Jaws" vibe that works.

Dumb idea.

You never remake hits. Only flops.

I played Elwood Dowd in community theatre when I was ~40 years too young for the role. I'm now the perfect age and am available. Steven, where exactly do I send my head shot and resume?

OMG. Re-make Harvey?????? Why????? Did the Jimmy Stewart classic burn up in a fire somewhere leaving no copies for anyone to ever see again???

I have the greatest respect for Mr. Spielberg but to re-make a marvelous classic starring one of Hollywood's finest film actors makes zero sense. What actor would be foolish enough to step into Jimmy Stewart's shoes?

Hey, while you're on a roll, why not remake Philadelphia Story and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

I hear you all, but at the same time I'll toss a little faith in Spielberg's direction. Perhaps he sees something that we don't understand yet.

The again, I also liked The Terminal, which is the category I hope this project falls into; something a backlot dalliance. Make sure that Spielberg, Kaminski, Kahn, and probably John Williams don't get too stale. These pics are testing ground for what is to come.

Maybe not though. Time will tell.


Steven Spielberg has always been known for his great love of films of all eras, but remaking a beloved classic such as "Harvey" shows no respect for films at all.

Someone should re-make E.T. as a form of revenge for this. Brett Ratner could direct.

Great. Now I'm just waiting for the remakes - sorry, "re-imaginings" of the Godfather Trilogy, Apocalypse Now, Citizen Kane and Casablanca...

ugh. Everyone is just tripping over each other with so-happy and thanks and exceptional and humanist and mastery and relevant. And I'm tripping over all the bad grammar.

Perhaps Will Ferrell suddenly dropping out of that other Fox comedy next spring is a sign that he's opening up availability for the Spielberg film. I can actually see him in the Jimmy Stewart role. If he plays it more like Stranger Than Fiction and Elf, and less Step Brothers (and all his awful sports-related films), he could pull it off.

Bill Pullman is my choice to play Elwood P Dowd Or Harvey

I loved the original and even pitched remaking it back in the 90's... when not too long afterwards Chevy Chase was announced as part of a remake package.

But with so much rich fertile material to do today?

Besides it really is a comedy about drinking than anything else--- as benign an alcoholic as Dowd is the thing that makes him the lovable old fool is his dipsomania-- but it was written in the 20's as a sort of an anti prohibition pro tolerance comedy.

We're so much more savvy about the disease and its implications than back then.
What are they going to do replace it with a less serious disorder like pot head, or
the hysterically funny schizophrenia? I'll bet you a thousand dollars he backs out--- he's just doing this as a favor for Jim Gianopolis and Tom Rothman is my hunch.

My bad, I miscalculated my timeline on Harvey and while it is a 1944 play, it's really a Post Prohibition, post tolerance comedy. The real mistake here is to believe it has anything to with an 8 foot Pookah named Harvey.

Anyone familiar with the movie or play will remember Harvey is the punch line and only (thank god) revealed at the very end (as real) when he finally walks through the gate on his own. We get to see him in outline and portraiture for the first time during the finale and end credits. Why do I suspect with Spielberg directing all the subtlety and suggestion of the original will be expensively replaced with a breathtaking surfeit of the obvious?

When I think of Spielberg I think of science-fiction. MINORITY REPORT is his masterpiece. That is such a surreal minbending film that dazzles the senses. I wish Spielberg gets to finally making the sci-fi film INTERSTELLAR scripted by Christopher Nolan's brother. It's a story about a space ship lost in deep space and come across a worm hole. Once drawn in the worm hole they come across an alternative reality. That is such a high-concept I would rather see Spielberg make that instead of HARVEY. Let INTERSTELLAR not be one of the great unproduced screenplays like THE DEMOLISHED MAN which would have been directed by Brian De Palma straight after his sci-fi spy chiller THE FURY in 1978. INTERSTELLAR and films such as Nolan's INCEPTION will redefine the sci-fi genre for it's generation the way THE MATRIX and MINORITY REPORT have. INTERSTELLAR should take priority over HARVEY in today's sophisticated movie market of superior films such as BATMAN BEGINS, THE DARK KNIGHT, WATCHMEN, CASINO ROYALE and the upcomming AVATAR. Spielberg will be forever associated with science-fiction.HARRY GEORGATOS

Go Steven...just hope he brings his crew "family" to this as per Minority, AI and Indy!!

It's Steven. He'll make it good whether we want him to or not.

I am a great admirer of Steven Spielberg's work and usually look forward to his upcoming movies, but this is a REALLY bad idea. The 1950 film captures the play beautifully and contains definitive performances by James Stewart and Broadway's original Veda, Josephine Hull, who won a well-deserved Academy Award. I honestly wonder if most of today's multiplex audiences would even care about a new HARVEY. Hopefully this will be one of those projects that will end up being cancelled, allowing Mr. Spielberg to move on to more adventurous and necessary films.

Wash your mouse out with soap, Peter Bart's second cousin, Will Ferrell?! If anyone could kill the goodwill James Stewart brought to the role it's Ferrell, a poor man's substitute if there's ever been one. Tom Hanks in his prime, maybe, but he's getting a little long in the tooth for the innocence this role requires. And the thought of Chevy Chase just makes my head spin, he hasn't been relevant for eons and is far too old for this role. You know who needs a career revival and would probably bring a surprising wide-eyed innocence to the role? Michael Keaton, how does that grab ya?

Love me some Spielberg, but this idea just irks me. All that talent in Hollywood and we have to go back to the vaults for a remake, for the love of all you hold holy, why?!

Work is work, and now when a group is willing to drop 50 or 100 Million into the economy and you have nothing but negativity? I mean all most 100% have a negative statement. You Hollywood people are so sheltered from the REAL world as it is today. Drive 200 miles north or south or East and take a look at reality. Then go to the east coast and get a real taste. A persons dream is their dream and they should be able to fulfill that dream. By the way, when has Steven failed you? ever?

hey, remember when gus van sant was going to remake Psycho?

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Peter Bart is the editorial director and vice president of Variety.
Michael Fleming has been a Variety reporter since 1990 and is based in New York.