As you should know by now, Martin Scorsese is a scholar and lover of classic cinema. And while he’s expounded on his passion in documentaries like “A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies,” “My Voyage to Italy” and more recently “A Letter to Elia” it’s surprising he’s never done a feature film about the cinematic era of yore (though he did touch on it briefly in “The Aviator“). But it looks like that may change.
Deadline reports that Paramount have optioned the rights to Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger‘s “Furious Love” about the legendary, torrid, tabloid-worthy relationship between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton for Scorsese to direct. The two first came together on the troubled set of one of the most costly films of all time, “Cleopatra.” Both were already in relationships — Taylor with singer Eddie Fisher, whom she had “stolen” from Debbie Reynolds, Burton with Sybil Williams — when they began to get involved with one another, and soon they were a target of paparazzi who followed them incessantly as they tried to keep their amorous encounters under wraps. In a very rare move, the Vatican denounced their relationship but the two pressed on, divorcing their respective partners and marrying in 1964, divorcing a decade later, remarrying again in 1975, only to split again in 1976. This is the kind of stuff you can’t make up, but if you want to get all the nitty gritty you must read David Kamp‘s excellent Vanity Fair article “When Liz Met Dick” about their relationship and the insane “Cleopatra” shoot.
Elizabeth Taylor passed away in March of this year, sparking interest in the rights to “Furious Love” which hit bookstores last year. Natalie Portman and “The King’s Speech” Oscar-winning writer David Seidler were said to be among the handful of folks chasing the book, but Paramount has locked it down. No screenwriter has been assigned just yet; Paramount has the full cooperation of the Burton estate and are hoping that the Taylor estate will follow suit.
As usual Scorsese has an incredibly busy schedule. He’s currently in post-production on the 3D “Hugo Cabret“; he will be helping Kenneth Lonergan edit “Margaret” for what producers hope will be a release this year; producer Scott Rudin recently got behind his long-gestating Frank Sinatra biopic; and he also has paired up with Lars Von Trier for “The Five Obstructions.” And while he’s got all of that in the works and more, we were told earlier this year that his dream project “Silence” would be next. Let’s hope that’s still the plan.