Now that the Oscars have effectively clobbered us over the head with word that the musical is back, Jim Carrey and Jake Gyllenhaal are set to tune up the ole pipes in a big screen adaptation of the classic musical Damn Yankees. Variety reported that New Line is acquiring the pair in a sign and trade deal with divisional rival Dimension Films, whose planned production of Friggin’ Red Sox fell through at the last minute. Okay, that last part not so much.
Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, who already have baseball experience with 2005’s Fever Pitch, are on board to pen the script, which will be a contemporization of the 1955 musical to today, hopefully minus the steroids, corruption, lying, and general bullshit. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who convinced John Travolta to go drag in a fat suit (actually, he may have convinced them…) last year in New Line’s musical Hairspray, are producing.
Damn Yankees tells the story of Joe Boyd, who makes a deal with the devil to be transformed into Major Leaguer Joe Hardy in order to help his cherished yet lousy team win it all. In a rare turn of events, the deal is reversible, but Joe only has until the World Series to cancel it. In order to guarantee the deal’s success, the devil recruits Lola, one of his lost souls, to seduce Joe so that he doesn’t opt out of it. Gyllenhaal is rumored to play Joe while Carrey will be Ole Scratch.
The project was set up five years ago at Miramax, but fell through and ended up at New Line after long negotiations. The original Broadway play won seven Tony awards and it was later turned into a 1958 film starring Tab Hunter, Ray Walston and Gwen Verdon and directed by George Abbott and Stanley Donen.