THE MESSENGER Director Oren Moverman Scripting Brian Wilson Biopic

     June 23, 2011

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Writer/director Oren Moverman (The Messenger) go-to guy for biopics about musical icons.  Todd Haynes brought him on to co-write the avant-garde Bob Dylan tribute I’m Not There.  Moverman will strike out on his own to write and direct a Kurt Cobain biopic.  Now, 24 Frames Moverman has signed on to write a film about the life of Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson, the deeply troubled genius responsible for some of the world’s most beautiful music.  Bill Pohlad (The Tree of Life) and John Wells (ER) hired Moverman shortly after acquiring the life rights from Wilson and his wife, Melinda.

The producers have secured the rights to much of Wilson’s catalogue, but don’t expect the soundtrack to top the charts.  Said Pohlad, “We’re not thinking about this as the hit parade.”  More quotes from Pohlad after the break.

This is a biopic, by definition, but Pohlad says we’re not supposed to call it that:

“I have no interest in making a biopic. What’s fascinating to me is to look at the different elements in his life, like that super-creative period when he was doing Pet Sounds and the later part when he was redeemed.”

If Pohlad means he wants to avoid the cliches of the traditional musical biopic, I’m down with that.  But biopic need not be a dirty word.  Own it.

brian-wilson-imageCasting is a ways off, though Pohlad and Wells are reportedly considering multiple actors to play Wilson at different stages in his life.  For those unfamiliar with Wilson’s life story, 24 Frames offers the condendsed version:

Barely out of his teens, the Southern Californian burst on the music scene as the creative driving force of the Beach Boys. That band produced hits such as”Surfin’ U.S.A.,” “I Get Around” and “California Girls.” Their 1966 album “Pet Sounds,” with its unconventional instruments, harmonies and sound effects put together by Wilson, is widely regarded among pop’s most important records.

But things went downhill from there, particularly after an ambitious project called “Smile” was scrapped in 1967. Wilson grappled with all sorts of demons throughout the 1970s and 1980s, including substance abuse and a mental illness. During that time, he also came under the care of a controversial and Svengali-like doctor named Eugene Landy, who was credited with both rehabbing the musician and ruining him further. Wilson would eventually return to health and has cut several new albums in recent years.

Of course, Pohlad says the biopic movie will appeal to more than just hardcore fans:

“You don’t have to know the music here in the same way you didn’t have to know the math in A Beautiful Mind.  What we want to do is let you experience the story in a personal way.”

Still, you should know at least some of the music.

“I Get Around”

“God Only Knows”

“Anna Lee, the Healer”

“Heroes and Villains”

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