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"Chicago" director returns home for city, university honors
( 2003-10-24 16:29) (Agencies)

The director of the Oscar-winning ``Chicago'' is optimistic that he'll direct a movie based on the best-selling novel ``Memoirs of a Geisha,'' despite a battle involving Miramax, Columbia and DreamWorks.

Rob Marshall wants to direct the film version of Arthur Golden's novel about a geisha's rise from a Japanese fishing village to life in high society because the project is a departure from his first feature, an award-winning musical. The Tony-winning Broadway director and choreographer, this year's recipient of the Directors Guild of America's top honors, said he is also attracted to a ``moving story about the human spirit and overcoming obstacles.''

But Marshall has a contract with Miramax Pictures that obligates him to do his second film with them, while ``Memoirs of a Geisha'' is a Columbia and DreamWorks film.

``It's complicated because it involves a lot of different players, you know. I mean, it's flattering in a way, because you have a lot of people saying, 'We want him to do this picture. No, we want him to do this picture.' I'm anxious to go to work. I believe I need to do this picture,'' Marshall said Thursday during a visit to Pittsburgh.

But when Marshall talks about the future, including his desire to do another musical film one day, he's optimistic that negotiations will work out and his next project will be a drama.

``I know it's getting a little sticky, but I do have faith that it will work out. I really enjoyed my experience with Miramax and I'm hoping that they'll find it in their hearts to be generous and let me do this movie ... I tend to think optimistically and am hoping this will work out,'' Marshall said.

Marshall was scheduled to spend the weekend in his native Pittsburgh, where he received a key to the city and was honored by his alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University. Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy declared Thursday ``Rob Marshall Day'' and the school gave the 1982 graduate its Alumni Merit Award during its homecoming celebrations.

The university was also scheduled to honor the College of Fine Arts alumni, including television actor and 1972 alumnus Ted Danson, composer-lyricist and 1980 graduate Ricky Ian Gordon and award-winning costume designer and 1953 alumna Ann Roth.

Marshall said that after the details regarding ``Memoirs of a Geisha'' are worked out, he would like to work on another musical film, although he's not sure what it would be. He's also developing a musical for Broadway that will be complete in the next two to three years and will be produced by Barry Weissler.

But he isn't afraid that such projects will label him as a ``musical director.''

``I'm really thrilled that musicals, in a way, have been reborn, and to be part of that, I'm thrilled. I really am thrilled,'' Marshall said. ``I think it's wonderful to go to a movie theater and escape your everyday life and to be taken to another place through song. There's nothing quite like a musical and I was very lucky with ``Chicago'' because, to me, it's one of those great, classic musicals of all time.''

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