Thursday, November 27, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Dueling Jeff Buckley biopics

The "Last Goodbye" singer/songwriter died young - and now two separate biopics are in the works, with a third project also in the mix.

Dueling Jeff Buckley biopics

Jeff Buckley drowned in Wolf River Harbor, outside of Memphis, in 1997. He was 30, on tour, and on track for fame and fortune, when he went swimming and got caught up in a boat's wake. His album, Grace, was a critical success, and his tousled good looks and high, quavering voice – both inherited from his father, the ’60s folk jazz singer Tim Buckley, who also died young -- had brought him legions of fans. His work was fierce and moody, soulful and heartbreaking, and his interpretation of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” – perhaps Buckley's best known recording – took the song to a whole new dimension.

No surprise then that filmmakers want to bring his story to the screen. The surprise is that there are two biopics on the brink or production, and another in the works.

The first to start production is Greetings From Tim Buckley, an indie from director Dan Algrant (People I Know) which is set to begin shooting next week in New York. Penn Badgley of Gossip Girl stars alongside British actress Imogen Poots (the female lead in Fright Night, opening this weekend), and the story pivots around Buckley’s tribute concert to his estranged father, and how reconnecting to his father’s music set him on his own path. Poots plays a youing woman he befriends in the days leading up to the show.

Another Buckley project, still untitled, will star Reeve Carney, the lead in Broadway’s Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark. This one will be directed by Jake Scott (Welcome to the Rileys), and has the blessing of Buckley’s mother – and the rights to use his music and personal archives. The screenplay was adapted from David Browne’s book,  Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley.

Deadline.com reports that a third endeavor, A Pure Drop, is in development from Mad Bastards director Brendan Fletcher, working from the book Pure Drop: The Life of Jeff Buckley. That one seems less likely to see the light of day, or the dark of a movie theater.

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
About this blog

Steven Rea has been an Inquirer movie critic since 1992. He was born in London, raised in New York City, and has lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Iowa City, Iowa. His column, "On Movies," appears Sundays in Arts & Entertainment, his reviews appear in the Weekend section on Fridays, and his blog, On Movies Online, can be found here. He is a member of the National Society of Film Critics.

Steven Rea's previous blog posts can be found here. Read his most recent columns and reviews, here. He is the author of the book “Hollywood Rides a Bike,” and also curates the movie stars and bicycling photo blog, Rides A Bike.

Reach Steven at srea@phillynews.com.

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
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