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John Carney’s George Gershwin-Inspired Musical ‘Fascinating Rhythm’ Picked Up by Lionsgate

Martin Scorsese and Irwin Winkler to produce

Lionsgate has acquired the rights to “Fascinating Rhythm,” the next film from “Once” director John Carney that is a musical inspired by the life of George Gershwin.

Martin Scorsese and Irwin Winkler are set to produce the film, which Carney is directing and co-writing with Chris Cluess.

“Fascinating Rhythm” is not a biopic but is described as a young woman’s magical journey through the past and present of New York City, as inspired by Gershwin.

The movie is being made in collaboration with the George Gershwin estate, which is providing the filmmakers with the rights to American Songbook standards such as “Fascinating Rhythm,” “I Got Rhythm,” “The Man I Love,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “’S Wonderful” and many more. It also includes the song score of “Porgy and Bess,” which yielded “Summertime,” “I Loves You Porgy” and “I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin’,” in addition to his classical works “Rhapsody in Blue,” “An American in Paris” and “Concerto in F.”

Charles Winkler and David Winkler are also producing “Fascinating Rhythm” with Scorsese and Irwin Winkler. The film will be overseen by Lionsgate’s Meredith Wieck and Scott O’Brien. Bonnie Stylides oversaw the deal for the studio. Endeavor Content brokered the package and developed the script with Carney and Cluess.

“We’ve been huge fans of all three of these filmmakers for many years, so to have the chance to work with all of them on one project is a thrill for me and the Lionsgate team,” Lionsgate motion picture group chairman Joe Drake said. “This is a script we couldn’t wait to read from the moment we heard about it and every page delivered. John’s unique vision and voice sold us completely. It is enchanting, magical, lyrical, and wonderful, and in the hands of these filmmakers, it is an exciting story and a package that we really wanted. We are thrilled to be a part of it.”

“I couldn’t be more delighted,” Carney said. “From the moment we went out to the market, there was a great connection with the project from the whole team at Lionsgate. It was inspiring. I can’t think of a better place to make a modern musical story about the greatest American composer to have ever lived. The whole team are thrilled to have found our home.” 

Gershwin’s life was made into a fictionalized biopic “Rhapsody in Blue” by Warner Bros. in 1945. He was an Oscar nominee for his song “They Can’t Take That Away from Me,” and he died in 1937 of a brain tumor at the age of 38.

Carney is the director of the musical films “Once,” “Begin Again” and “Sing Street.” He also directed episodes of the 2019 series “Modern Love.”

Carney is represented by WME and Casarotto. Cluess is represented by Bruce Brown. Winkler is represented by attorney Dave Feldman. Scorsese is represented by WME and LBI Entertainment.

Deadline first reported the news.