After leaving her post as chief of United Artists last year, (thus severing professional ties with long-time producing partner Tom Cruise) Paula Wagner is ready to start making films again.
Her first project? Turning the long-running, hugely popular musical Miss Saigon into a movie. Co-producing with her will be Cameron Mackintosh, who produced the musical on the West End and Broadway. Rumored to be in talks to direct is Lee Daniels, whose film Precious (executive produced by Oprah and Tyler Perry) is creating serious Oscar buzz at the moment.
Professionally, Wagner has had a bumpy few years. In 2008, she left her CEO position at the struggling United Artists (owned by MGM), while Tom Cruise remained. The L.A. Times reported that Wagner and MGM Chairman Harry Sloan butted heads when he stalled on greenlighting many of her proposed projects. The two films she did make while at UA — Lions for Lambs and Valkyrie — were box office flops.
According to Variety, Wagner intends to move quickly on the Miss Saigon project, producing it via her newly formed Chestnut Ridge Productions. A screenwriter is being chosen now and Wagner is aiming for a 2011 release date for the film.
The musical Miss Saigon first premiered on the West End in 1989, and then opened on Broadway in 1991. Written by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, the play is the tenth longest running show in Broadway history.