08/27/2012 07:21 pm ET Updated Oct 26, 2012

We're Getting Into a Weird Area: Tootsie and More

Ladies and gentlemen -- everything comes back around; everything old is new again; if you wait long enough, people forget. Except, I rarely completely forget in-development Broadway musicals. And I don't like when journalists treat old things as new.

So it was with a shake of the head that I read stories promoting a musical version of Tootsie, and acting like the idea stemmed from a recent deal Sony Pictures Entertainment signed with the Broadway producer Scott Sanders (see Patrick Healy's New York Times story about the arrangement and the related Playbill story by Andrew Gans). In fact, Scott Sanders has been involved with creating a musical version of Tootsie since at least 2009, and the project was alive before him. This wasn't a little known under-the-radar development either--there was a publicized lawsuit filed about it. On May 10, 2011, lyricist David Zippel and composer Walter Afanasieff filed a suit in New York Supreme Court alleging that Sanders was trying to cut them out of the tuner; according to the complaint, it was Zippel and original co-screenwriter Larry Gelbart who brought the project to Sanders. Agreements were signed in July 2009.

In September 2009, Gelbart died. According to Sanders' answer to the complaint, in January 2010 Scott Sanders Theatrical Productions, LLC informed Zippel and Afanasieff (a noted pop songwriter who had been selected by Gelbart and Zippel) "that it had decided to search for a new creative team for the Tootsie Musical." The parties agreed to a confidential settlement agreement in fall 2011 and the case was discontinued. The official statement from Scott Sanders Theatrical Productions about this is: "We had a dispute that has been resolved amicably, and the parties prefer to keep the terms of the settlement confidential." (The complaint sought to "prevent Scott Sanders Productions from wrongfully excluding them [Zippel and Afanasieff] and their work product from the Tootsie Project, and to recover amounts due and owing to them in connection with the Tootsie Project," as we now know Zippel and Afanasieff are being excluded from the show, I imagine they collected some cash as part of the settlement, but that is speculation on my part. Also note that the complaint alleges Sanders approached songwriter Randy Newman; the answer denies that allegation. I throw this out there in case, miraculously, Newman's name comes up in the future.)

Anyone could have found out the history of the Tootsie musical by a web search. Yet apparently that didn't happen. I felt a similar level of annoyance in February when stories touted the fact that Woody Allen was writing the libretto to a stage musical version of Bullets Over Broadway. The real news related to Bullets was, I guess, the fact that it is supposedly coming in 2013. Except many stories acted like Woody Allen was the big announcement; Allen was reported to be working on this show in 2002. Absent from the stories I read was mention of the fact that composer Marvin Hamlisch (who has since passed away) and lyricist Craig Carnelia had been previously attached to Bullets, and had written many songs for it. (The show will now feature period songs; I remember stories from when Hamlisch was first announced stated that Allen had considered using period tunes before Hamlisch entered the picture.) Of course, I expect such things from non-theater reporters, and from the authors of print articles that may be confined in terms of space. But theater journalists posting online? Your readers may care. Google people, Google. Or, better yet, just look at your own internal story archive.

I miss a lot of things on this blog and in my writing. I can't remember everything I've ever heard, reported on, or read. At all. I do try to do quick web searches though. Often I don't include everything I find, but if it impacts what the story is, I try to throw it in there. I find it helps.