Hollywood to make Leonard Bernstein biopic

It’s a personal passion of Martin Scorsese, who will direct, it was announced today. The script is being written by Josh Singer, who wrote Spotlight.

Let’s hope they’ve got someone good to look after the music.


What can possibly go wrong?

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  • If I were to make a biopic, I would make one about Hans Eisler, who was hounded during the McCarthy witchhunts in the US and fled to East Germany-yes, fled to the East!-where he ended up a drunken wreck. But who would want to watch the film?

      • Pauld: I don’t know how productive Eisler remained during his East German period or to what extent he was a convinced communist. He left the US because there was a chance of his being arrested and he got out in the nick of time. Once again, as a subject for a film, Leonard Bernstein has more commercial potential but I find the subject of Eisler more interesting. Bernstein was vastly successful; failure is generally a more captivating theme.

    • Hollywood will keep Lennie’s smoking habit in the movie and then just rate it “NC-17” for excessive tobacco consumption.

  • Wonder if they will give equal time to his bisexuality/homosexuality! For some years Harry Kraut and the Bernstein estate fought tooth and nail to keep that hidden.

  • I can’t imaging Leonardo DiCaprio playing Bernstein on the screen.

    Any bets about who could star the film?

    Based on Scorsese’s previous casts, Matthew McConaughey could be an option.

    • Yes — I don’t fancy DiCaprio. Wasn’t his last biopic role J. Edgar Hoover? But he’s a better thought than the rather whitebread McConaughey. Is there a younger Dustin Hoffman around? He might have given it some oomph back in the day.

  • Not only should they find somebody good to look after the script, but also somebody goodlooking to look after the role.

  • There is an excellent feature length film on Hans Eisler directed by Larry Weinstein of Rhombus Films. Seen all over the world on 30 countries broadcast networks. Is your head in the sand?

  • Well, Scorsese is directing so I’m assuming it will take place in New York, Lenny joins the mob and gets whacked after he upsets the boss.

    • Ian Mckellen would be a great Bernstein through and through, albeit an old one. Not sure how is American accent is though.

  • Thinking about casting: One option would be Zachary Quinto for the young Lenny and Michael Tilson Thomas for the older Lenny. Dustin Hoffman ticks some of the boxes but I think a much better choice for many reasons would be Kevin Kline. There is that vainglorious aspect, the self absorption, the particular Lenny voice and some of the profile. Another possibility, a bit further afield, is Clive Owen. I knew Lenny well through the decades and there is so much character there to mine.

    • Lenny was a friend of Kevin’s parents Bobby & Peggy Kline and was a regular visitor to their home in St Louis in the mid-40s when he would guest-conduct the St Louis symphony. Bobby Kline’s Record Bar was the leading store for classical music and opera in St Louis for four decades starting in the early 40s.

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