Milk's Sean Penn and James Franco, J. Edgar's Leonardo DiCaprio and Armie Hammer, now add Michael Douglas and Matt Damon to the list of Hollywood actors playing romantic leads. And yes, yet another high-profile filmmaker and project are finding a safe harbor at HBO Films. Steven Soderbergh will direct Douglas as the flamboyant lounge pianist Liberace and Damon as his lover Scott Thorson in a movie adapted by Richard LaGravanese from Thorson's memoir Behind the Candelabra in this long-in-development biopic. HBO plans to sell the movie to theatrical distributors overseas via film festivals, but it will air on HBO in North America.
Executive producer Jerry Weintraub brought the project to HBO, which had backed his doc My Way. Gregory Jacobs and Susan Ekins are producers. Douglas has been preparing by watching and listening to old performances as well as taking music training. UPDATE: Weintraub talks about the film to the LAT.
Meanwhile Soderbergh shows no signs of slowing down, as he enjoys his first hit in a while, Contagion, and preps the January release of Haywire. He's currently filming indie comedy Magic Mike, starring Alex Pettyfer, Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey. Liberace will shoot in the summer of 2012; Contagion writer Scott Z. Burns is working on Warner Bros.' 60s spy romp The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which no longer has George Clooney attached, due to his upcoming back operation.