Soderbergh: The Studios Told Me My Liberace Movie Was “Too Gay”

Nobody would make it. We went to everybody in town. They all said it was too gay. And this is after Brokeback Mountain, by the way, which is not as funny as this movie. I was stunned: It made no sense to any of us.This movie is a magnet for attention. The whole package… looked [to HBO] like a slam dunk, [but] the studios didn’t know how to sell it. They were scared.”

—Director Steven Soderbergh, discussing why he brought his upcoming Liberace bio-pic, Behind The Candelabra, to HBO, at a press roundtable. Soderbergh also indicated Candleabra would be his last movie. “I have been doing it a long time—since I was very young. I can feel these things coming. I just need a complete reboot.”


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  • Brian

    If Steve Soderbergh can’t use his influence to get Hollywood to accept this Liberace biopic, we truly are in trouble. It appears that Hollywood is still stubbornly homophobic and that we have not really progressed much over the last 2 decades.

    It should be remembered that Hollywood was built on the idea of heterosexual relationships. Men must be marketed to women, and women must be marketed to men. The heterosexual romance notion is VERY strong and pervasive throughout Hollywood. Anything that upsets this apple cart is considered a threat. If the threat must be shown, it needs to be pushed to the fringe where it won’t be a nuisance.

    Ironically, it is gay people who work in Hollywood who help to push gay issues to the fringe. If this gay person is in the closet, he is hardly going to be receptive to the issue of homosexuality in movies. Even if this gay person is open about his sexuality, his attitude to homosexuality in movies will be influenced by the risk notion. A gay person is perfectly capable of thinking of gay issues as being risky.

  • Spike

    Its not the gay part that makes this pic/topic less interesting, its the fact that the guy had his bf get plastic surgery so that he looked more like himself that is the total turn off, the creep factor is just too much.

    I suppose if the subject matter was shot in a serious tone and the movie later took on a camp quality, it might be fun, otherwise can’t say that I’d be interested. Let the few remaining blue haired old ladies that made him a star and are still around tune in.

  • adam madam

    While I see your points about homophobic Hollywood, I think this is more of a generational issue than one of sexual orientation. Vegas can’t even keep its Liberace museum open anymore, and ‘seventies period pieces like Boogie Nights and Studio 54 peaked fifteen years ago. The average age of people old enough to have cared about Liberace at the time has to be at least 55 or so now, and why would young, hip movie goers pay money to see a cheesy flick about some excessive queen their grandfather’s age? Putting Matt Damon to work in a gay role is a good idea, but a seventies soap opera just isn’t the vehicle for it.

  • ncman

    Damon is WAY TOO OLD for this part. Scott Thorson was 17 when he was in a relationship with Liberace.

  • balehead

    Considering 70% of Hollywood Studio management is gay…this is depressing news….

  • Lefty

    When is this actually going to be shown?
    It feels like it’s been trailed for months with photos and interviews and so on, yet still no broadcast date on the horizon as far as I can see…

  • biguy

    too bad Soderbergh is done after this

  • CaptainFabulous

    I didn’t realize it was possible to ever be “too gay” where Liberace was concerned.

  • Brucek99

    I’m surprised. I would have though Liberace would have made for a fascinating story. It’s interesting that Hollywood has not problem making many movies about any subject on the planet except gay. Violence, torture, war, gang rape, deviant sex nothing is taboo as long as it isn’t gay. Sad.

  • hephaestion

    Liberace had LEGIONS of female fans, mostly older women who thought of Liberace as the ultimate charming & nice guy. They did not believe he was gay no matter how gay he acted, and they steadfastly thought he was a super-nice gentleman.

    This film doesn’t sound like it shows him as a nice guy. Those women will be sorely disappointed. Though perhaps most of them are dead now.

  • CaptainFabulous

    @hephaestion: He was the Barry Manilow of his time LOL!

  • MMDD

    Hollywood loves its lesbians, but when it comes to gay men, it’s WAY more homophobic than most folks realize…and that’s not going to change anytime soon.

  • Alan down in Florida

    Liberace’s primary audience was white grandmas, most of whom are now dead. The 18-45 demographic probably has never heard of Liberace – and that includes the gay ones. This was never going to be a mass-market mainstream movie regardless of the lead character’s “closeted” gayness (which was really hidden in plain sight).

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