Flaming Lips
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Potential rock operas?

By Chris Barton and Margaret Wappler, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

Some creative collaborations make perfect sense, others not so much. In the “not what we would’ve expected by a long shot” category, EW.com reported earlier this year that “West Wing” creator Aaron Sorkin has signed on to write the script for a Broadway musical version of the Flaming Lips’ 2002 psychotropic album, “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.” The possibility made our imaginations run wild. What other artists were primed for pop opera magic?

The Flaming Lips, as written by Aaron Sorkin (“Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip”): When EW.com reported news of this collaboration, the blogosphere lit up with, well, mostly a lot of mystified head-scratching. Although it now appears that the deal isn’t quite as final as Coyne initially indicated, it’s still irresistible to imagine Sorkin’s rapid-fire dialogue colliding with the Lips’ strange, psychedelic world. As Coyne joked to EW, “Maybe that means they’ll need to build a stage with a lot of hallways on it.” (Robert Gauthier / LAT)
The Clipse as written by David Simon (“The Wire”): With the Clipse’s second album, “Hell Hath No Fury,” brothers Pusha T and Malice asserted themselves as the prime purveyors of “cocaine rap,” a superstylish genre of hip-hop steeped in the caustic glamour of the drug trade. Who could be trusted to translate this gritty underworld into broad, operatic strokes? “The Wire” creator David Simon, that’s who. His West Baltimore is a wasteland covered in broken glass, menacing but beautiful. (Jonathan Mannion)
Mary J. Blige, as written by David Chase (“The Sopranos”): Bronx-born R&B singer Mary J. Blige is always heartbroken but always keeping on. Her struggles with love and drugs are ordinary but she renders them with an extraordinary twist. David Chase has applied the same principles to “The Sopranos.” Tony Soprano, too, wants “No More Drama,” but what can you do when life just keeps dishing it out? (Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images)
Green Day, as written by Josh Schwartz (“The O.C.”): Although the sun-drenched soap-operatics of this teen drama might seem like an odd fit with the politicized Green Day of “American Idiot,” Billie Joe and the band have been channeling teenage angst since their 1994 breakthrough “Dookie.” Given Green Day’s popularity in America’s subdivisions (including, of course, those in the real O.C.), Schwartz seems like the right man for staging a dramatic pop-punk production. (Kevork Djansezian / AP)
R. Kelly as written by Marc Cherry (“Desperate Housewives”): R. Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet,” a 12-chapter video-opus involving pie, midgets and one of the most elaborate infidelity plots ever conceived, is not for lily-livered TV writers scared of turning a plot on a dime. No, “Trapped in the Closet” needs “Desperate Housewives” creator Marc Cherry, who’s not above hiding a character in a closet, basement or anywhere the ratings might find accommodating. (Frank Micelotta / Getty Images)
Bright Eyes, as written by Winnie Holzman (“My So-Called Life”)
In his teen years, Conor Oberst, the lead warbler of emo-folk band Bright Eyes, would’ve been perfect as Claire Danes’ crush in the ‘90s teen drama “My So-Called Life.” Oberst and Winnie Holzman could make a great high-school opera: Imagine the heart-wrenching aria about getting a huge zit on picture day. (Scott Gries / Getty Images)
My Chemical Romance, as written by Josh Whedon (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”): My Chemical Romance and Whedon’s cult series are creative cousins, sharing a love for all things goth but with a populist spirit. If Whedon and MCR put their heads together for a Broadway production, it would look something like the band’s concerts for their 2006 album “The Black Parade.” In other words, like a Tim Burton movie but with a lot more blondes. (Scott Gries / Getty Images)
Johnny Cash, as written by David Milch (“Deadwood”): Given the Man in Black’s devout Christianity, it’s hard to say how much freedom he would have given Milch with, say, the writer’s favorite 12-letter expletive. But Cash’s songs of murder, betrayal and redemption sure mesh nicely with the darker sides of human nature on display in the town of Deadwood. Backed by Cash’s signature freight train rhythm, we’re pretty sure Milch could build a solid hour of drama solely around “Folsom Prison Blues.” (Dan Poush / AP)
Radiohead, as written by Chris Carter (“The X-Files”): Paranoid, inscrutable and obsessed with government conspiracy, “The X-Files” is practically a live-action Radiohead album without the complicated guitar hooks. Wouldn’t it be nice to see Mulder and Scully back in action to track down the cloned child described in “Kid A”? Or maybe the UFO abduction described in “OK Computer’s” “Subterranean Homesick Alien”? C’mon, Chris. It’s not like you’re busy. (Damon Winter / LAT)
Fiona Apple, as written by Shonda Rhimes (“Grey’s Anatomy”): With “Grey’s” looking to regain its footing after an ill-advised three-episode “special event,” maybe it wouldn’t be a bad thing for Shonda Rhimes to spend some time away from “Grey” universe this summer. Fiona Apple may not wear scrubs, but her given her track record for provocative music videos, anti-celebrity diatribes, mid-concert crying fits and leaked alternate versions of a delayed album (2005’s “Extraordinary Machine”), Apple clearly packs enough drama to fill five or six teaching hospitals. (Allen J. Schaben / LAT)