HBO announced the acquisition on the project, always previously described as a theatrical film, on Tuesday (October 11), with Soderbergh directing from a script by Richard LaGravenese.
"Behind the Candelabra" will be executive produced by Jerry Weintraub, who was the subject of his own HBO Films production, the documentary "His Way." Gregory Jacobs and Susan Elkins will produce.
"This is a story that’s going to surprise a lot of people," states HBO Films President Len Amato. "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."
Adds Weintraub, "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. 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 Soderbergh -- it doesn’t get better than that!"
As Weintraub says, the project focuses on the relationship between flamboyant piano entertainer Liberace (Douglas) and his much younger live-in-lover Scott Thorson (Damon).
"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," states Soderbergh. "HBO’s fearless approach to original programming and their unparalleled ability to pull in viewers make them the perfect fit for us. Apart from my hair growing back, I couldn’t be happier."
Wait. What? Hair growing back?
Anyway, Soderbergh has a long relationship with HBO, a history that goes weirdly unacknowledged in the HBO press release. The Oscar-winning director served as an executive producer on "His Way" and the telefilm "Pu-239," and previously worked with HBO on short-lived series "Unscripted" and "K Street."
"Behind the Candelabra" will begin production in the summer of 2012 in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Palm Springs.
Want one last HBO statement?
HBO Programming President Michael Lombardo states, "Richard Plepler and I developed an enormous respect and affection for Jerry when we worked with him on his HBO documentary, and we hoped that it would be the beginning of a long and productive relationship. We are extremely excited that he is returning to HBO with this riveting film and sensational array of talent."