Liberace film 'too gay' for Hollywood, says Soderbergh

Jan 7, 2013

Studios refused to fund Behind the Candelabra starring Matt Damon and Michael Douglas

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HOLLYWOOD studios refused to finance a biopic about American entertainer Liberace because it was "too gay", claims director Steven Soderbergh.

Soderbergh, who won an Oscar for Traffic in 2000, said that because studio executives repeatedly refused to finance the movie's relatively low $5m budget he eventually made it for the television channel HBO.

"Nobody would make it. We went to everybody in town," he told showbiz website The Wrap. "We needed $5m. Nobody would do it. 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."

Titled Behind the Candelabra, Soderbergh's film is based on the book of the same name by Scott Thorson who was Liberace’s younger long-term lover before the veteran entertainer died in 1987 from an Aids-related illness. Michael Douglas plays Liberace while Matt Damon plays Thorson.

Soderbergh, who also made Erin Brockovich and Sex, Lies, and Videotape and has already vowed to “retire” from Hollywood film-making, denied being disappointed by the lack of a theatrical release for his film.

"[HBO are] great and they're really good at what they do, and ultimately I think more people will see it, and that's all you care about," he said. "Studios were going: 'We don't know how to sell it'. They were scared."

He added that the reaction from the studios to Behind the Candelabra differed greatly to that received for his low-budget, sex-themed drama The Girlfriend Experience, which successfully achieved a theatrical release despite the presence of porn star Sasha Grey in the lead.

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