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Liberace Movie Deemed “Too Gay” for Hollywood…But Not for HBO

Behind the Candelabra
HBO

Remember when the first trailer for James Franco’s ‘Interior. Leather Bar.‘ hit? The film itself, which recreates the 40 minutes of footage excised from William Friedkin’s gay S&M-focused thriller ‘Cruising,’ is in itself too provocative for the mainstreamers considering it’s homosexual content. Even Franco stated sarcastically in the trailer, “Don’t show gay sex… that’s the f—ing devil!” Well, apparently another film has fallen into this category of being “too gay” for a big-screen wide release, and that’s the Matt Damon- and Michael Douglas-starring Liberace biopic ‘Behind the Candelabra.’

If you thought ‘Broke Back Mountain’ was too homosexually themed, than you probably want to avoid director Steven Soberbergh‘s Liberace movie. Douglas stars as Liberace alongside Damon, playing his lover Scott Thorson, and its this relationship that serves as the main focus for the film. After enduring much grief with the production process, including rejection after rejection, ‘Behind the Candelabra’ will finally be making its debut on HBO after premiering at the Cannes Film Festival.

At a recent press conference for the Television Critics Association, Soderbergh revealed that just about everyone in Hollywood didn’t want to make the film. “We went to everybody in town,” he told The Wrap. “We needed $5 million. Nobody would do it.” So why all the reluctance to take part? In the director’s words, the film was shockingly deemed “too gay” for a mainstream audience:

They said it was too gay. Everybody. This was 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… Studios were going, “We don’t know how to sell it.” They were scared.

Although we haven’t yet seen ‘Behind the Candelabra,’ we have to wonder what exactly is “too gay” for this film. It’s based off the Liberace autobiographical novel of the same name by Scott Thorson, starting at the time his 18-year-old self became the then 57-year-old’s lover, and continuing through his harsh eviction by the musician in favor of a younger guy and the tabloid frenzy that ensued. If Sean Penn can wow audiences with his performance as Harvey Milk, and Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhal can both stun the world with ‘Broke Back Mountain,’ I don’t think a Liberace movie is too big of a pill to swallow.

‘Behind the Candelabra’ also stars Rob Lowe, Scott Bakula, Dan Aykroyd and Debbie Reynolds, and will make its HBO debut sometime this spring. It’s been said to be Soderberg’s last directorial effort aside from ‘Side Effects‘ with Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum, though we still have some hope that he’ll return to film in the future.

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