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Brokeback Piano: Nicolas Cage Headlines Liberace

7/24/2006 6:55 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

Composite of Nic Cage over Liberace's bodyEXCLUSIVE: Nicolas Cage is not leaving Las Vegas; indeed, he's coming back to it, starring in a new biopic about the life of that gold lame luminary, Liberace. What's more, Cage is producing the project as well, via his Saturn Films production company, based on a script by Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg.

Friedberg and Seltzer are best known for the campy pop culture-derived hits "Scary Movie" and more recently, "Date Movie," but their look at Liberace's life is understood to be far more serious. And while the duo might seem to be the last choice for a serious biography, the deal kind of makes sense to us: Who, after all, was better at distilling highbrow classics into pop culture than Liberace himself?

Born Wladziu Valentino Liberace, the pianist's rise to fame began in the 1950s, when his musical TV show (featuring his brother George leading the band) competed with and often bested "I Love Lucy" for ratings. He'd go on to sell millions of records -- over 2 million in 1953 alone.

But was as a live performer that Liberace truly made his mark: As a headliner in Vegas, he had no equal, making $55,000 a week playing at the Riviera nightclub. By 1972, he was earning $300,000 a week, and was only finally dethroned by Elvis. (He reclaimed his mantle as Vegas' highest paid performer after the King's death.)

Liberace's own death, from AIDS, remains perhaps the most tragic and defining aspect of his life as an artist. Despite his status as a gay icon, Liberace always flatly denied that he was homosexual (Most poignantly, his publicist attributed his weight loss in his final months as being caused by a "watermelon diet.") and it's Liberace's worst-kept-secret of a double-life that the project is expected to focus on.

In the early 80s, Liberace's live-in lover Scott Thorson sued him for $113 million in "palimony" after they parted ways, and it is that suit - ultimately dismissed - that insiders say will be used as the starting point to introduce audiences to the secret that vexed Liberace for his entire adult life.

No studio is as yet attached, though Cage is said to be meeting with directors in the weeks to come, and is said to want to go before cameras as early as October of this year.

Developing...

9 COMMENTS

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1.

Cindy    

I think that it's going to be fantastic. The writters of Scary Movie and Date Movie will most likely shock us at how great they are at writting an independant drama! I think they are great and how could it not be amazing with Nic Cage staring/ producing it. He must really love the script to put his name on the line!

2805 days ago
2.

the wise old owl    

NICOLAS CAGE IS SUCH A GIFTED ACTOR HE COULD PULL ANYTHING OFF. IF THIS PROJECT GETS THE GREEN LIGHT. HE COULD BE NOMINATED FOR AN ACADAMEY AWARD. TALK ABOUT A STRETCH. i wonder where he will go to do his research in order to embody the essence of Liberace? Should be interesting. I 'm sure we will all read about it in the TABLOIDS. " Nick Cage seen in gay bar. Caught cheating on his wife " Hee hee hee They seem to always take things out of context.

2830 days ago
3.

?    

Doesn't seem to be a good ' fit '. Just don't see it going over with the audience but hey, the critics will probably love it.

2830 days ago
4.

PEPPA    

PLAY LIBS LIFE ? OK....... ( NO DOUBT >>> HE'S A TERRIFIC ACTOR, AND, WHILE I COULD NEVER PICTURE HIM IN THIS ROLE......HE'S SO GOOD.... HE JUST MIGHT PULL IT OFF ! I'LL SEE THE MOVIE ;0))

2829 days ago
5.

Erika Callahan    

I love Nicolas Cage, but back off the whitener man......they're like beacons.

2829 days ago
6.

Kathy    

I love Nic Cage... but---I cannot see him playing this part.. It would be better suited for someone else. Nic is very versatile and I am sure he could pull this off, but I would like to think he would use his talent in something that would be more entertaining to his fans. Just my opinion. I am looking forward to his new movie coming out in August.

2829 days ago
7.

Harvey E. Brown    

I knew Liberace for many years during his Vegas days. I wrote and gave him a copy of a song about him one night after his show at the Greek Theatre the last time he played there, called "The Crystal Clown". When I told him the name of the song he said "I Love it". I wonder if there is any way to get this song to Mr. Cage to see if he would have any interest in using it as the theme song of his movie about Lee. The song is a powerhouse of emotion and could only help the movie!

Thanks, Harvey E. Brown

2761 days ago
8.

hornyowl    

his mother would love this! to see her son play a piano legend! and his fans too!

1072 days ago
9.

hornyowl    

some of you peeps are kooky! he is da man! nobody else can play piano like him. he is awesome, and I want to know why he gave it up.

1072 days ago

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