Katharine McPhee Beats Out Superstar Starlets for “West Side Story” Remake
Katharine McPhee, star of the hit freshman NBC series, Smash, and previous American Idol Runner-Up, has been cast as the female lead in Rob Marshall’s version of West Side Story. McPhee will be playing Maria, the musical’s lovely heroine caught in a star-crossed forbidden romance, in Marshall’s update on the musical classic.
No concrete details are known at the moment as to how much this remake will deviate from the original, but according to sources, we can expect “Big, big changes. People are going to be shocked. It will be very contemporary. Most of the original music will be there, but some new tunes as well. A little more edge. It will be set in the 90’s.”
McPhee is no stranger to the music of West Side Story, having covered the movie’s pinnacle track “Somewhere” in 2008 for David Foster and Friends, a PBS special. “Marshall is a close friend of Foster,” sources say. “He personally recommended Katharine for the role and told Marshall to watch the video of her performance, which was essentially her first audition.”
The reportedly flashy remake has been in development for nearly four years, Deadline has learned.
Katharine beat out other singing and acting double-threats like Lea Michele, Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Lopez, Zooey Deschanel, Katie Holmes, and Beyonce Knowles, for the coveted spot. “Everyone thought Lea had it in the bag. Including Lea herself,” the source said. “But then Katharine came in and blew everyone away with her versatility. Her voice fit much better with the updated music than Michele’s more traditional Broadway style. But this isn’t just another Broadway on film movie. It’s gonna have a lot of pop appeal.”
As of now, no other leads have been cast, but our sources tell us that producers are in talks with a list of people that reads like a “Who’s Who” of hot, A-list male actors for the lead male role of Tony. The list includes names like Darren Criss, Justin Timberlake, Zac Efron, Jake Gyllenhal, and Ryan Gosling among a few others.
“There’s a lot of people hot for this role,” says our source. “There’s a lot of buzz around this project. The script is fantastic. Everyone wants in.”
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This is everything I have ever wanted for her.