When rumors started circulating a couple months ago that one of my favorite directors, Steven Soderbergh, was thinking about doing a musical using music from my favorite band, Guided By Voices, I was understandably skeptical. Somebody must be trying to pull a fast one on me, right? That it was going to be in 3D cemented my belief that it wasn't real. Then a month ago, actual news came out that Catherine Zeta-Jones had signed on to play Cleopatra and Hugh Jackman was in negotiations to play Marc Antony, and, well, Cleo no longer appeared to be an elaborate joke.
As of this week, in fact, the film has a shooting schedule, with is slated to start in April, with a budget of $30 million. Jackman is still in negotiations, but they have their Julius Caesar now as well, with Brit Ray Winstone signed on to play the infamous Roman emperor. That means we can get excited about it, right? It's in 3D!
Ex-Guided By Voices bassist James Greer (Max Keeble's Big Move) wrote the script in six weeks based on a conversation with Soderbergh, and the result got the director so jazzed that he cleared his schedule for it.
As Soderbergh relays to MTV, "It's like an Elvis musical in a way. It's not serious. I mean it's historically pretty accurate but it's sort of like Viva Las Vegas meets Tommy." Soderbergh, Greer and GBV frontman Robert Pollard are currently writing new lyrics to GBV songs (already handpicked by the director) to match the script. (Rumors have it that "Little Lines" is one of the songs, and I've got a playlist below of my other best guesses, like "Weed King.") No news yet if Pollard will be voicing one of the characters yet, but knowing that both Hugh Jackman and Ray Winstone can sing, maybe it's time to start lobbying for Uncle Bob to fill the role of Flavius. (In 3D, no less!)
As many who follow GBV know already, Soderbergh is a huge fan of Pollard's songwriting, and tapped the prolific songwriter to write the music for his independent film Bubble (2006). He also wrote the forward for Greer's book on GBV (Guided by Voices: A Brief History: Twenty-One Years of Hunting Accidents in the Forests of Rock and Roll), so he's a genuine GBV-head.
Did I mention already that it's going to be in 3D? In a corner of my mind, I'm already standing in line for the film. As Bob would say, "The club is open!"