‘Bell, Book & Candle’ Remake in the Works — Without Harvey Weinstein

Dave McNary

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A remake of the Jimmy Stewart-Kim Novak romantic comedy “Bell, Book & Candle” is in the works with Jay Weston and Sara Risher producing.

Weston, who has producing credits on “Lady Sings the Blues” and “Invisible Child,” originally optioned the remake rights from the estate of original author John van Druten, then collaborated with Harvey Weinstein on the project for several years. He announced Friday that Weinstein and Miramax are out of the project. The disgraced ex-mogul was found guilty on Feb. 24 of committing a criminal sexual act and third-degree rape.

Weston said he is acquiring the remake rights again with veteran film executive Risher joining him. Risher was a New Line exec before launching Chickflicks Productions, through which she produced the drama “55 Steps” starring Hilary Swank and Helena Bonham Carter. The producers are seeking a female director for “Bell, Book & Candle.”

In the original 1958 film, Novak played a witch living in modern-day Manhattan with her warlock brother, played by Jack Lemmon, and a befuddled older witch, played by Elsa Lanchester. In order to prevent being evicted, Novak’s witch puts a spell on Stewart’s character using her cat Pyewacket to make him fall in love with her after he’s acquired their building.

Weston said he and Risher are intrigued by the question at the heart of the “Bell, Book & Candle” story — whether we want to be in the world without reservation, or in a protected world of separateness.

“If we want to be a member of the human race, we need to embrace the messiness of other people,” he said. “There will be tears, and there will be shame, and there will be pain. But without loving and being loved, who are we? And that’s why we both so want to film this story.”

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