His “Jackass: the Movie” just kicked butt at the box office, but Johnny Knoxville’s not letting it go to his head. His next flick is so low budget and independent that it’s moving ahead before even securing a distributor.
Knoxville is set to star in “Grand Theft Parsons,” a film about events surrounding the death of singer/songwriter Gram Parsons, considered by many to be the forefather of country rock. He’s not playing the legendary performer, however.
As its title suggests, “Grand Theft Parsons” will focus more on Parsons’ manager Phil Kaufman, who stole the rocker’s body from a mortuary and set it on fire at the Joshua Tree National Monument in the Southern California desert in 1973. The theft was part of a pact made between the two friends shortly before Parsons died of a drug overdose. Though Kaufman was never charged for taking or burning the body, the cops did nab him for stealing and burning the coffin.
Knoxville (see ” ’Jackass’ Pushes Its Big-Screen Competitors Downhill In A Shopping Cart” ) will play Kaufman in “Grand Theft Parsons,” starring alongside Christina Applegate (“The Sweetest Thing”) and Academy Award nominee Robert Forster (“Mulholland Drive”). Parsons’ role will be little more than a cameo. The movie — which is set to begin production “imminently,” according to a Knoxville spokesperson — will be directed by Irish filmmaker David Caffrey, who helmed the 1998 dark comedy “Divorcing Jack.”
Gram Parsons, who died in his late 20s, was a friend, contemporary and general cohort of the Byrds and the Rolling Stones. It has been said that “Wild Horses” was written by Keith Richards and Mick Jagger with Parsons in mind to sing, but that the Stones’ label nixed the idea of including a Rolling Stones/Gram Parsons collaboration on a Stones album.
Ryan Adams, who is often called “the new Gram Parsons” in the rock press, has covered Parsons’ “’Luxury Liner,” “A Song for You,” “Ooh Las Vegas” and “Sin City” in the past. He also teamed up with Emmylou Harris, a friend of Parsons’, for a take on “Return of the Grievous Angel” for a Parsons tribute album.