Good Afternoon
Good Afternoon

Michael Douglas plays pianist Liberace in HBO film

Actors Matt Damon, left, and Michael Douglas are

Actors Matt Damon, left, and Michael Douglas are shown at the after party for the film "Contagion," in New York. (Sept. 27, 2011) Credit: AP

Michael Douglas will play flamboyant pianist Liberace and Matt Damon his reported lover Scott Thorson in an HBO telefilm to be directed by Oscar-winner Steven Soderbergh.

"You're doing a picture about a gay couple -- in a time when gays did not come out of the closet," executive producer Jerry Weintraub told the film-industry site He said nonetheless that it would be "a fun movie because Liberace is a fun guy -- I knew him very, very well. But there's a dark side as well. It's very dark, and it's very light."

HBO Tuesday said "Behind the Candelabra" would start production in summer 2012, with locations in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Palm Springs. Richard LaGravenese ("The Fisher King," "Water for Elephants") is the screenwriter. No broadcast date was given.

"We've been working on it for a very long time," Weintraub said. Damon was already talking about it in July, telling the Las Vegas Sun, "Yeah, it's going to happen. We're going to do it next summer . . . Michael Douglas is going to play Lee," he said, using the term Liberace's close friends used.

The highly popular Liberace, who died in 1987 at the age of 67 of AIDS-related causes, publicly denied being gay or bisexual. He was a Las Vegas mainstay since the 1950s.

Thorson, who sued him for palimony in 1982, wrote the 1988 tell-all book "Behind the Candelabra: My Life With Liberace," though HBO does not say whether its same-name film is based on it.

More Entertainment