Hollywood to make Leonard Bernstein biopic

Hollywood to make Leonard Bernstein biopic


norman lebrecht

October 30, 2015

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?


  • ruben greenberg says:

    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?

    • Martin Bernheimer says:

      I would!

    • PaulD says:

      I’d like to see the part where he composes the East German national anthem.

      • ruben greenberg says:

        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.

    • Ed says:

      I would make one about Nikolai Roslavets.

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    In these pathetically PC days, how will they portray Lennie smoking during rehearsals?

    • Max Grimm says:

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

  • Nick says:

    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.

  • Jon says:

    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.

    • V.Lind says:

      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.

  • Neil van der Linden says:

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

    • Max Grimm says:

      “…somebody goodlooking to look after the role”
      That’s the one thing Hollywood almost always gets right.

  • Peter Rosen says:

    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?

  • P. Heuthmann says:

    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.

  • M2N2K says:

    They will probably go for a younger actor, but Daniel Day-Lewis would not be a bad choice.

  • David says:

    Alec Baldwin could nail Bernstein’s persona stone-cold. They could even cast a younger brother in flashback scenes.

    • snowclap says:

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

  • Fred Plotkin says:

    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.

    • Kath says:

      Quinto is already playing Gershwin for Spielberg.

    • EAK says:

      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.

  • Chris Case says:

    Surely the obvious choice for the older Bernstein would be Richard Gere.