Images of Michael Douglas as Liberace in the HBO film, Behind the Candelabra, seem to be everywhere; at the Cannes Film Festival where it premiered yesterday, on magazine covers and in reviews (even in BusinessWeek). American audiences will get their first look at the movie on HBO on May 26.
Yesterday, Terry Gross interviewed the director, Steven Soderbergh on NPR’s Fresh Air. He says he had long wanted to do a movie about Liberace, but it wasn’t until a friend recommended the 1988 book Behind the Candelabra: My Life with Liberace, by the pianist’s lover, Scott Thorson (played by Matt Damon) that he was able to go forward. “When I read that book, it sort of solved all my problems. It gave me a specific time period to deal with; there was the arc of the relationship between the two of them to give me a structure. And that’s when things really started to move.”
Tantor Media re-released the out-of-print title recently, with a new afterword by Thorson, as part of the launch of their new book imprint. Tantor has also released an audio version, narrated by Peter Berkrot (sample here, about the media circus around Liberace’s death of AIDs). An interview with Thorson is featured on Tantor’s web site. He says he hasn’t seen the movie and will see it as everyone else does when it debuts this Sunday on HBO.