December 05, 2001 07:20 PM

The Tony-winning star of Broadway’s “The Producers,” Nathan Lane, will play TV’s “Great One,” the late Jackie Gleason, in a movie biography about the beefy entertainer, according to a report in “Variety.” The legendary Gleason (1916-1987) is best remembered for playing Brooklyn bus driver Ralph Kramden in the classic ’50’s sitcom, “The Honeymooners.” The movie, to be called “To the Moon” (which is where Ralph always threatened to send his wife, Alice, during one of their many heated arguments), is being developed by Oscar-winning filmmakers Sydney Pollack (“Out of Africa”) and Anthony Minghella (“The English Patient”). Gleason, who also was an accomplished musician with his own orchestra, was discovered on the New York nightclub circuit by Hollywood mogul Jack Warner and starred in several movies and Broadway musicals before making his TV debut. In 1986, he starred in his final film, “Nothing in Common,” portraying the philandering father of an advertising exec (played by Tom Hanks). “Jackie Gleason has been a huge influence on me since I was a child,” said Lane, 46. “The thing that gets to me about him is that despite the bravado of his public persona and the broad hilarity of some of his comedy, there remains a tremendous amount of sadness and vulnerability in his eyes. Hopefully we will explore that in the film.”

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