‘Legally Blonde: The Musical’ Creators Nell Benjamin & Laurence O’Keefe Team For Melodic Comedy At Universal

EXCLUSIVE: Legally Blonde: The Musical music/lyricists Nell Benjamin and Laurence O’Keefe are currently in the works on an untitled comedy musical at Universal for which they will write the songs and screenplay.

Pic, which has a plot that’s being kept under wraps, is being produced by Scott Sanders and Mara Jacobs at Scott Sanders Productions.

“Nell and Larry’s script perfectly captures the blend of irreverence and emotion that they have brought to their stage shows in an irresistible story that I can’t wait for movie audiences to experience,” Sanders told Deadline.

Benjamin and O’Keefe’s Legally Blonde: The Musical received seven Tony nominations in 2007. Separately, Benjamin wrote the lyrics to Mean Girls: The Musical for which she was nominated for best original score with Jeff Richmond. O’Keefe has worked on such popular musicals as Heathers and Bat Boy. The duo are represented by WME and Epiphany Alliance.

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The Benjamin-O’Keefe project is one of several musicals in the works at Scott Sanders Productions, including In The Heights and a Steven Spielberg, Quincy Jones and Oprah-produced adaptation of The Color Purple at Warner Bros.  Sanders produced the Tony and Grammy-winning stagings of The Color Purple. He is repped by Erik Hyman at Paul Hastings. Sanders’ latest Broadway hit Tootsie, based on the 1982 Sydney Pollack movie, received 11 Tony Award nominations and won of the New York Drama Critics Circle prize for Best Musical. The musical won Tonys last June for Leading Actor in a Musical and Best Book of a Musical. In the Heights directed by Jon M. Chu is set to debut on June 26 next year.

Universal’s Senior EVP of Production Erik Baiers and Director of Development Lexi Barta will oversee the Benjamin-O’Keefe project on behalf of the studio.

If there’s one facet of tentpole pics Universal excels in next to its rivals, it’s musicals from Oscar-winning Broadway adaptations like Les Miserables to the sequel Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again last year.  To date in 2019, Universal has the Beatles inspired Yesterday which has grossed over $120M at the global box office, the Paul Feig directed Last Christmas inspired by the George Michael holiday ditty on Nov. 8, and Tom Hooper’s feature adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats on Dec. 20.

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