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Soderbergh's Liberace Goes to HBO with Douglas and Damon

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood October 11, 2011 at 6:17AM

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.
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Thompson on Hollywood

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.

This article is related to: Directors, Genres, Headliners, TV, IN THE WORKS, Steven Soderbergh, Biopics, Books, Matt Damon, HBO


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.