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NEW YORK - "The Producers" is coming back to the big screen.

A film version of the hit Broadway musical will begin shooting early next year with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick repeating their roles as the rapscallion producer Max Bialystock and his nebbish accomplice Leopold Bloom.

"Filming with start in January 2005, probably in New York," Simon Halls, a spokesman for the two actors, confirmed Wednesday from Los Angeles.

The stage musical was based on the 1968 movie by Mel Brooks starring Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder as two producers who set out to swindle investors by creating a musical flop.

Brooks wrote the original film, which became a Broadway success in 2001 and won 12 Tonys, the most ever. Lane and Broderick left the show after a year's run but returned Dec. 30 for a three-month engagement and box-office receipts zoomed.

Brooks will produce the film version and co-write the screenplay with Thomas Meehan who co-wrote the script for the Broadway musical with Brooks. Susan Stroman, who directed and choreographed the stage show, will direct the film.

The movie that gave the world the song "Springtime for Hitler" could be out by Christmas 2005, Universal Pictures spokesman Michael Moses said.

Lane will have a busy 2004. He is committed to star in the Lincoln Center Theater revival of "The Frogs," a rarely seen Stephen Sondheim musical. The production, to be directed and choreographed by Stroman, will begin preview performances June 17 and open July 15. It will run through Oct. 3

"I suspect he (Lane) is going to bring 'Butley' into New York," Halls said, referring to a revival of the Simon Gray play the actor did last fall in Boston. "It is something that is being thought about.

"Nathan and Matthew have unmatched chemistry," Halls said. "So a lot of super-duo plays have been bandied for them including 'The Odd Couple' and 'La Cage aux folles' but at this point they are going to do 'The Producers' until April, then go off to do their own thing and then come back and do the movie."

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