Sean Ebbswo r th Barnes
arts & entertainment
Bruce Joel Rubin's
smash movie Ghost
is now a musical on
Richard Fleeshman and Jewish actress
Caissie Levy, a native of Hamilton,
Ontario, star in Ghost the Musical,
Alice Burdick Schweiger
Special to the Jewish News
e earned an Oscar for writing
the blockbuster supernatural
romantic thriller Ghost, and now
there could be a Tony Award in his future.
Native Detroiter Bruce Joel Rubin, who
won Hollywood's golden statue for Best
Original Screenplay in 1990, has adapted
Ghost for the Broadway stage. Ghost the
Musical began previews this month at the
Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in New York City
and officially opens April 23.
Rubin's successful Hollywood career
spans three decades. This 1960 Mumford
High School graduate's body of work
includes writing the screenplays for
Deceived, My Life, Stuart Little 2,Jacob's
Ladder, The Last Mimzy, Deep Impact and
The Time Traveler's Wife.
But it took more than a few years before
Rubin found his groove.
After graduation from Mumford, Rubin
spent a couple of years at Wayne State
University before moving to New York
City and earning a degree at NYU, where
he hung out with good buddies Martin
Scorsese and Brian De Palma. He landed
a job at NBC working in the news depart-
ment but, like many of his generation,
soon left to explore the world in pursuit of
a spiritual journey. His 1966 trip around
the globe included stops in India, Nepal,
Greece, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan
When he returned to New York, Rubin
met and married Blanche Mallins of Long
Island. Following a job at the Whitney
Museum as curator for its new American
filmmakers department, he and his wife
moved to Indiana, where they both went
to graduate school. Relocating to DeKalb,
Ill., Blanche taught at Northern Illinois
University, and Rubin wrote screenplays.
But it wasn't easy pitching scripts from
the Midwest so Rubin moved his family,
which then also included two young sons,
to California. And that's when his career
Rubin currently travels between his
homes in Los Angeles and upstate New
York and his apartment in New York City,
so he doesn't get back to Michigan very
often. His parents, Jim and Sondra Rubin,
have passed away; brother Gary is mar-
ried and lives in LA and sister Marci lives
in Atlanta with her husband.
Still, Rubin expressed a fondness for the
place he was born and raised. The Jewish
News recently spoke to Rubin about his
work, life and Detroit roots.
IN: How did Ghost the Musical evolve?
BJR: It's been seven years since my first
meeting with the producers. Initially, the
producers came to me with the idea and
convinced me the characters could sing
their emotions. We found Glen Ballard and
Dave Stewart to do the music and lyrics,
and they are amazing. The play opened in
Manchester, U.K., last March and trans-
ferred to London's West End, where it is a
huge hit and still running at the Piccadilly
IN: Didn't you write some of the songs?
BJR: I wrote 20 songs, and Dave and Glen
created the music for them. Three of my
songs are still in the show: "Believer,"
"Life Turns On A Dime" and "Three Little
Words," but my DNA is in all the others.
IN: Is the plot similar to the film?
BJR: Yes, we stuck to it
very closely. We embel-
lished a little bit and
took some scenes and
transformed the words
into songs and dances.
It turned out great.
IN: Were you a part
of the casting in
both the film and the
BJR: Yes. I have a lot
of ownership because
I created the story. In
the show, Caissie Levy,
[who is Jewish and
from Hamilton, Ontario,
Canada], and Richard
Fleeshman are terrific.
In the film, both Jerry
[Zucker, the film direc-
tor] and I wanted Demi
Bruce Joel Rubin in front of the theater marquee of
Moore. She was a hot
Ghost the Musical
property and a won-
derful actress. Patrick
[Swayze] was not our first choice at all.
revenge his death, and I thought, "That is
Jerry wanted Tom Cruise or Harrison Ford, my plot" I felt it would be great to turn
and we went to them and they said they
this idea into a 20th-century story.
didn't want to play a dead guy. But this was
a dead guy with a tremendous amount of
IN: What was the first feature film you
power, and Patrick really understood that.
wrote that got made?
BJR: Brainstorm, which was Natalie Wood's
IN: Initially, what inspired you to write
BJR: I always had a desire to write a ghost
IN: In 1984, you moved to Los Angeles.
story, and I wanted to tell it from the side
What was the first movie of yours that
of the ghost. I always felt that life precedes
was produced after moving there?
birth and does not end at death, and this
BJR: I'd been offered a Wes Craven
was a great way to dramatize that. One
movie called Deadly Friend, but I was
day I was watching Hamlet. There was the
determined to maintain my integrity in
ghost of Hamlet's father telling his son to
Hollywood and reluctant to write a horror
Spirited Show on page 63
March 29 2012