Behind the Candelabra, the Liberace biopic being produced by HBO. Set to be released in 2013.
Steven Soderbergh is directing Behind the Candelabra from a screenplay by Richard LaGravenese. The story follows Liberace’s relationship with Scott Thorson, that lasted from 1977 to 1982. Liberace consistently denied allegations that he was homosexual throughout his career. He died of AIDS in 1987.
Behind the Candelabra comes to theaters in 2013 and stars Matt Damon, Michael Douglas, Rob Lowe, Dan Aykroyd, Scott Bakula, Debbie Reynolds, Boyd Holbrook, Cheyenne Jackson. The film is directed by Steven Soderbergh.
From Vanity Fair and the photo by Norman Jean Roy:
As Gordon “Greed is good” Gekko in Wall Street, Michael Douglas personified and immortalized money on the make. Now, improbably, inspiringly cast as the capering prince of the piano Liberace—!—in the upcoming HBO original film Behind the Candelabra (produced by the legendary Jerry Weintraub and directed by Steven Soderbergh, hot off the beefcake sizzle of Magic Mike), Douglas plays money dolled up for an eternal night on the town. Like Elvis Presley, another poor boy and social outcast who was glory-bound (each had a twin who died at birth!), Wladziu Valentino Liberace, born in 1919, rocketed through the gray flannel of the 50s in a riot of color, pomade, and mascara. Elvis’s gold lamé suit and Liberace’s sequined jackets could be spotted from outer space—“I’m glad you like it,” he would say after modeling his latest outfit onstage. “You paid for it”—and exploded out of the postwar closet of Puritan repression. Only, in Liberace’s case the closet held more than his wardrobe. Lee (as his friends called him) was a camping, vamping gay man who never “came out,” inhabiting pop culture’s original glass closet. As Dave Hickey writes in his essay “A Rhinestone As Big as the Ritz,” “Liberace’s closet was as democratically invisible as the emperor’s new clothes…. Everybody ‘got it.’ But nobody said it.” Until the shattering came. In 1982, Liberace’s former live-in chauffeur, bodyguard, secretary, and boy toy, Scott Thorson (portrayed by Matt Damon under a sandy thatch of 70s hair), sued for “palimony” and later wrote the memoir on which this movie is based. Liberace would die of aids in 1987, but his extravagant legacy lives on through Elton John, Lady Gaga, and the diamond skull of Damien Hirst.
On Set pictures:
The Candelabra was formely known as just “Liberace”, now has a new title and more actors:
Dan Aykroyd’s acting appearances have been pretty randomly spaced out lately, with his recent appearances on-camera including a couple of episodes of The Defenders, which put him opposite fellow former SNL star Jim Belushi. This latest bit of TV casting involving Aykroyd sounds like it might be a more serious role for the actor.
Variety is reporting that Aykroyd is set to join the upcoming HBO TV movie centered on musician Liberace, titled Behind the Candelabra. He joins previously cast Michael Douglas and Matt Damon. Douglas is set to play Liberace, while Damon is set to play his domestic partner, Scott Thorson. And now Aykroyd has been brought on board to play the role of Seymour Heller, “Liberace’s long-time manager who disapproved of his relationship with Thorson.”
I haven’t read Thorson’s memoir, My Life with Liberace, which is the basis for this film, but it sounds like Heller might not be the most likable character. Aykroyd is great at roles that portray him as the friendly guy (see Ray Stantz in Ghostbusters or Elwood Blues in The Blues Brothers), but he’s just as good, if not better, at characters that are meant to intentionally rub you the wrong way (see Roman Craig in The Great Outdoors, Zalinski in Tommy Boy and/or the governor in Evolution). But that’s all based on his comedic work. He’s done drama before (Pearl Harbor, Chaplin), but this sounds like it could be a heavier role. So it should be interesting to see what he does with the part. He’s certainly in good company, and another reason to anticipate this project.
Production is set to begin on Behind the Candelabra this summer.
Looks like Liberace production will start next year! Sure seems like an awesome story! From Hollywood Reporter:
Michael Douglas and Matt Damon have been tapped to star in HBO Films’ Liberace biopic.
Behind the Candelabrawill star Douglas as Liberace in the project that takes a behind-the-scenes look at the relationship between the legendary entertainer and Scott Thorson, his younger, live-in lover (Damon).
The project will be executive produced by Jerry Weintraub (Ocean’s Eleven) and produced by Gregory Jacobs (The Informant!) and Susan Ekins (The Karate Kid series), with Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) directing the script by Richard LaGravenese (Water for Elephants).
“This is a story that’s going to surprise a lot of people,” HBO Films president Len Amato said Tuesday in announcing the casting. “It’s funny, heartbreaking and always fascinating, and we are delighted that Jerry and Steven brought the film to HBO. With Steven at the helm, directing such accomplished actors as Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, this is a dream project for us.”
Production will begin next summer in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Palm Springs.
For Weintraub, the project marks a reunion with the premium cable network that aired his biopic, His Way this year.
“I’ve wanted to make a film about Liberace for a very long time, and after the amazing experience I had with HBO on His Way, I knew that they were absolutely the right place for this movie,” he said. “I am thrilled that we have the incomparable Michael Douglas to inhabit the role of Liberace, as well as the exceptional Matt Damon to play the pivotal part of Scott Thorson. Putting these two fine actors in the creative hands of Steven Soderberg — it doesn’t get better than that.”
Soderbergh, meanwhile, noted HBO’s “fearless approach” to original programming in bringing the project to the pay cabler.
“From the inception of this project, we’ve had two priorities: getting it right creatively, and getting as many people as possible to see it,” he said.
For Weintraub, the project marks the latest in a string of small-screen work. CBS earlier this month picked up The Producer, a period drama project. set in the world of the evening news.
Actor Matt Damon has revealed he is looking forward to lock lips with Michael Douglas for their new movie.
Damon will play Douglas’ lover in a movie about gay piano legend Liberace.
“It’s scripted that there’s more than one. I never thought I would get to kiss Michael Douglas,” contactmusic quoted Damon as saying.
Douglas, who revealed in January that he is in remission for stage four throat cancer, is equally enthusiastic about the project.
“I’m just going to get really comfortable so it’s not a caricature. Matt Damon’s going to be my younger lover. God bless Matt. I saw Matt and I was teasing him. I was saying, ‘Bring a lot of ChapStick, babe,” said Douglas.
The film will be helmed by Steven Soderbergh.
A sure way to get a laugh out of “Adjustment Bureau” star Matt Damon these days is to mention that oddly, two directors whose only link in this world is having both worked with Damon more than once have both announced seemingly premature “retirements” from movie making.
The quixotic and generally quite successful Steven Soderbergh seems to mean it. With Kevin Smith, who has had a lot of trouble getting his latest movie made and into theaters, it’s hard to tell. But both have announced a one-or-two-more movies and done career path.
So is working with Damon and the memory of Matt what drove both over the edge, and will Matt be in either filmmaker’s “final” film?
“I hope to be in both of their last movies,” Damon says. “But I hope neither one of them is making his last movie NOW. I hope not. I hope not. We need good directors.
“I’ve talked at length with Steven about it. He is going away for a while, I think. He genuinely wants to paint. And he feels if he really dedicates himself he can be really good. He’s not yet 50. He will put in the hours. He has a work ethic like nobody I’ve ever seen. He feels if he puts a hard decade of work in, he could really be doing something.
“But I see it as a waste of this incredible depth of knowledge of filmmaking. But his thing is ‘form. I’m only interested in what I can do with form. I’ve made almost every movie I want to,’ he says. ‘And if I see another over-the-shoulder shot, I’m going to kill myself.’
“I said to him, right after I did ‘Invictus,’ ‘Steven, I just finished a movie with a guy in his 70s who still charges out of bed every morning because he can’t wait to get to the set. He has a blast and is really loving it and he’s been doing it a lot longer than either of us.’ And without a blink, Steven says ‘But Clint’s a storyteller. A great storyteller. I’m not interested in stories. I’m interested in form.’
“I don’t know what to say to that. It’s his life to do with what he wants. So in the meantime, I’d doing as many movies with him as I can. I’ve definitely got him on the hook for one more. Hopefully, on the set of ‘Liberace’ I can convince him to do another one.
“This ‘Liberace’ script is just wonderful. Michael’s going to be just phenomenal in that part. We’re shooting that in 2012. I just did ‘Contagion’ with Steven last December.
“He has the most varied body of work of anybody I can think of. He’s at this point where we could shoot during the day, and him being the cinematographer and the director, we’d go home, have an hour or two off, and then meet him back at the hotel bar in Chicago. They’d have a back room where he’d sit, have some pretzels and a drink and he’d take a look at the day’s work. Scott Burns, the writer, Greg Jacobs, his first-AD, and me, we’d show up, get a drink and hang out with him. Steven would have his headphones on, sitting at his laptop. And in about 20 minutes he’d cut together the day’s work. ‘OK,’ he’d say, pull his headphones off and turn the computer around and show us, right there, what we’d shot that day and how it would look on the big screen when the movie comes out. THAT FAST. He’s a FREAK.
“When we did ‘Ocean’s Twelve,’ we did a wrap party at a bowling alley. I went up to him and said, ‘Hey Steven, thanks. Great time working with you. Thanks. How do you think the movie’s going to be?’ And he say, ‘You wanna SEE it?’ He’d finished cutting it and had it on a laptop. Right there, he shows me the movie!’ (LAUGHS)
“He’s a phenomenal director, a prodigious talent with a non-stop brilliant mind. He’s been pushing himself since the very beginning. Sometimes failing, but always pushing.”
Damon is “a little miffed, frankly” at the “Oscar snub” his pal and sometime collaborator Ben Affleck seems to have gotten over “The Town.”
“Don’t get me started, but he did such a great job writing and directing that, and acting in it. At least some acknowledgement for the screenplay. And there are ten best picture nominees, It wasn’t one of the ten best? I think so. Anyway, he’s hot as a firecracker right now. I’m glad to see it.”
I’m interviewing The Farrelly Brothers on Friday about “Hall Pass,” their new comedy. Damon and Greg Kinnear played conjoined twins in their comedy, “Stuck on You” some years back. Damon has a vivid recollection of working with those guys, too.
“My favorite direction I’ve ever receieved was from Peter Farrelly. Greg and I were wearing the suit, stuck together. We do a take and it just doesn’t work. I’d flubbed a line, Greg missed one of his cues and there was this long pause after we hear “Cut” over the walkie-talkies. They were sitting way over in Video Village, where the monitors were. Must have been a quarter of a mile away.
“And Greg goes, ‘Well that stunk. Let’s just go right away’ We were hoping they’d keep the cameras rolling and we’d take another shot at the scene.
“But we see Peter walking all the way over to the set. Long walk. Greg says, ‘Oh nooo. He’s coming ALL the way over just to give us a note. Not good.’
“Peter’s chewing gum. And he finally gets over to us, looks at me, looks down at his feet, takes a long pause, ‘Um, yeah, hmmmm.’ Looks back up at me and finally just says — ‘Suck less!’”
“Greg and I go ‘Yeah, THANKS Peter. We got it.’ He turns around and walks all the way back to the monitors.”