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Arts | Coolture

Another taste of ‘Sideways,’ as UCSD grad Rex Pickett’s novel-turned-movie is now in development as a musical

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Director Des McAnuff (left) worked with writer Rex Pickett on the original stage adaptation of “Sideways.” Pickett, whose novel became a hit movie in 2004, is now developing a musical version.

“Sideways,” the wine-centric novel-turned-movie whose initial stage adaptation was produced at La Jolla Playhouse, is now about to get yet another fresh pour — as a musical.

Rex Pickett, the locally raised writer and University of California San Diego grad who created “Sideways,” is developing its musical version with the composer Anthony Adams, according to Deadline and other sources.

No production dates have been set, although Pickett’s earlier, non-musical stage adaptation will be staged off-Broadway in January, Deadline says. (The two are separate projects.)

That piece had its biggest production so far at the Playhouse in 2013, under the direction of former Playhouse artistic chief and Broadway heavyweight Des McAnuff, of “Jersey Boys” and other hits. (Read our preview and our review of the La Jolla production.)

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The play and pending musical are both based on Pickett’s novel about a pair of wayward middle-aged wine lovers who make one last, ill-fated vineyard-hopping pilgrimage together before one of them is to be married.

The 2004 movie adaptation of the novel starred Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Sandra Oh and Virginia Madsen. The film, directed by Alexander Payne and written by Payne and Jim Taylor, earned five Oscar nominations, winning for best adapted screenplay.

Pickett, who grew up in San Diego’s Clairemont neighborhood (and once was a carrier for the former San Diego Union), was inspired to write the novel partly by his own love for wine, which he called “a bottomless ocean of mystery” in a 2013 Union-Tribune interview.

Pickett also talked about the movie adaptation’s famous takedown of the wine varietal merlot, and the real-life impact it had on the wine business: You can read his thoughts on that topic here.


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