'The Producers' curse strikes again as Kidman quits film

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The Independent Culture

The stage show may be the hottest ticket in town, but The Producers' story of an ill-fated musical is beginning to look cursed.

The stage show may be the hottest ticket in town, but The Producers' story of an ill-fated musical is beginning to look cursed.

Only weeks after the actor Richard Dreyfuss pulled out of the London stage version of Mel Brooks' comedy at the last minute, Nicole Kidman is dropping out of the planned new film of the show.

Shooting of the film version of the Broadway stage show now in London (which originally began life as a film in 1968) is due to begin in New York in February. Susan Stroman, who choreographed the stage shows, will direct, with star appearances from Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, who appeared in the Broadway version. But the trade magazine Variety reported yesterday that Kidman has been forced to abandon the role of the loopy Scandinavian secretary Ulla in the film, apparently because her other commitments got in the way of rehearsals.

Her role in Bewitched has left her without enough time to practise the intricate song and dance routines for The Producers before heading into her next film, Eucalyptus, with Russell Crowe and Geoffrey Rush in Australia.

Her loss is a blow to The Producers because the actress proved herself a song and dance star in the Baz Luhrmann spectacular Moulin Rouge.

Kidman's career has soared since the end of her 10-year marriage to Tom Cruise with roles in films as diverse as the arthouse Dogville and the epic Cold Mountain. She won an Oscar for her performance as Virginia Woolf in The Hours and is now the third highest paid woman in Hollywood, earning around £8m a picture. She was recently paid a £2m fee for a three-minute Chanel commercial.

But the 37-year-old actress has encountered problems. She injured her knee in a fall while filming Moulin Rouge and later had surgery. She subsequently had to withdraw from Panic Room, to be replaced by Jodie Foster.

Kidman's gruelling filming schedule was blamed when she also pulled out of a follow-up to Dogville, a challenging film from the controversial director Lars von Trier.

The Producers has been an enormous success but has had a troubled history with its stars. The British actor Henry Goodman travelled to New York to take over the role of Max Bialystock from Nathan Lane two years ago but was sacked before opening night. Brad Oscar, who played Bialystock on Broadway for 87 weeks, will be hoping for better luck when he takes over from Lane in London on 10 January.