Walter Mencken 10:06 a.m., Feb. 6
A brief history of Liberace(s) on film
Soderbergh's biopic premiers Sunday on HBO
Steven Soderbergh's Liberace biopic, Behind the Candelabra, is not the first time the story of the flamboyant pianist has been brought to life on the small screen.
Liberace died on February 4, 1987 at the age of 67 and his candelabra had barely cooled before networks were competing for the rights to his life story. Two rock impresarios -- Dick Clark and Don Kirshner -- battled for ratings, with Clark's Liberace premiering October 2, 1988 on ABC, and Kirshner's Liberace: Behind the Music airing one week later on CBS.
Remember Andy Robinson? Who better than Dirty Harry's psycho nemesis to play the soft spoken ivory-tinkler? While the TV biopic touched upon Li's love affair with his protege, Scott 'Boober' Thorsen it was far from a scathing tell-all. After all, the movie-of-the-week was made with the support of The Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts. William Hale (Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, The Time Tunnel, Barnaby Jones) directed.
The next man to tackle the master of the Dancing Waters® was Victor Garber, best known to audiences as Thomas Andrews, one of the men who helped build the Titanic in the James Cameron version. David Greene (The Shuttered Room, Godspell, The Betty Ford Story) directed Liberace: Behind the Music.
Dave Thomas, of course, offered the definitive take on Liberace in numerous SCTV sketches, but Soderberg and the top brass at HBO wanted to go with a more recognizable name like Michael Douglas.
Based on Thorsen's autobiography Behind the Candelabra, the Soderbergh telling looks to be the most authoritative to date. It's remarkable how much Douglas and Matt Damon resemble the coosome twosome.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is Debbie Reynolds coming out of semi-seclusion to play Lib's mom, Frances.
Behind the Candelabra premiers Sunday night at 9pm, but who can blame you for not subscribing to the shit-ass premium cable provider whose idea of HD is presenting 2.35:1 movies in 16x9. Ask an unenlightened friend to put it on their DVR for you.
Don't worry if you miss this Sunday's debut. Knowing HBO, you'll probably have around 7 million chances to catch a repeat before the month is out.
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