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by Dana Harris
June 20, 2011 11:03 AM
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The Tale of Two Jeff Buckley Movies: Which One Will Win?

The cover of Jeff Buckley's 1994 album, "Grace."

So if Penn Badgley's playing Jeff Buckley, why did producer Orian Williams tell the Los Angeles Times that Badgley "is not involved with the film at all"?

Because Williams' Jeff Buckley project is not the same as Penn Badgely's Jeff Buckley project. And while it seems very likely that Badgely's movie will wrap first, the other Buckley project has the blessing of the Jeff Buckley estate. (The Badgley project has rights to music from the Tim Buckley estate.)

Got it?

To be clear: Badgley is starring in "Greetings from Tim Buckley," now in preproduction. [See related story.]

However, there's another project, as-yet untitled, about the life of Jeff Buckley that will be produced by Williams and Michelle Sy. And while this film doesn't have a title, its attachments include director Jake Scott; a script by Ryan Jaffe ("The Rocker"); rights to the biography "Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley" by David Browne; and rights to music under the Jeff Buckley estate, which is controlled by his mom, Mary Guibert, who is also an executive producer.

What the untitled Buckley picture doesn't have is a star (Billy Hopkins is overseeing casting) or an official start date, although Williams says he hopes to start pre-production in September and have the film wrapped by the end of the year.

That puts the two projects in what's become a classic for indie biopics: The showdown. And while it's possible both films will be made, there's usually only one winner.


Truman Capote
There was "Capote" and there was "Infamous." "Capote" wrapped two months before "Infamous" began production. "Capote" opened in October 2005 and won an Oscar for star Philip Seymour Hoffman; "Infamous" opened in October 2006 and earned about $1.1 million in North America.

Brandon Teena
Then-Fox Searchlight president Lindsay Law bought "Boys Don't Cry" after seeing 20 minutes of it during the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. Later, Searchlight reached an out-of-court settlement with Diane Keaton's Blue Relief Prods., which had developed another Teena project, "All She Wanted." Law had picked up that project out of turnaround at Fine Line Features about a year earlier, but killed it after the "Boys Don't Cry" acquisition. Later, Teena's former girlfriend, Lana Tisdel, filed a lawsuit against Fox claiming her name and likeness were used without consent.

Marilyn Monroe
The Weinstein Co. has "My Week With Marilyn" starring Michelle Williams slated for release this year. At one point, Naomi Watts was also attached to portray Monroe in "Blonde," with Andrew Dominik directing and adapting Joyce Carole Oates' mock memoir. "Blonde" remains in development.

Harvey Milk
Gus Van Sant made "Milk," which earned an Oscar for star Sean Penn and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black. "The Mayor of Castro Street," with Bryan Singer attached to direct, died in development.

Coco Chanel
In the rare instance of a tie, Audrey Tatou starred in "Coco Before Chanel;" and Anna Mouglani starred in "Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky." Both films were acquired by S0ny Pictures Classics and released in 2009 to prevent cannibalization/competition.


  • rayman | February 29, 2012 12:23 AMReply

    James franco has to play jeff!!!

  • onenationhere | August 12, 2011 1:24 AMReply

    Franco is to old to play Jeff.....I like Franco but it won't work.

    I'm glad someone took the reins and got the ball rolling on a Buckley film.his estate has been yapping about it for years but nothing has happened.I tend to think Mary is an anchor,I know she wants it right and everything but man,,,,,what a pain in the ass.

  • Julia | August 5, 2011 12:07 PMReply

    I want James Franco as Jeff. Period. And who wants to see a Jeff Buckley movie without any Jeff Buckley music???

  • Tony | July 22, 2011 11:14 AMReply

    The better of the two will be what most are calling "Mystery White Boy". Penn Badgeley? Really? Before it is all over, we will hopefully see James Franco playing a superb Buckley.

  • kidAthebends | June 22, 2011 12:40 PMReply

    casting for movies is funny sometimes. the obvious choice would be James Franco if you're looking for someone who looks like jeff buckley not robert pattison (i.e. bring the teens into the flick).
    other than that i would rather just see a well done documentary.

  • dfprod | June 21, 2011 12:08 PMReply

    Sounds lame! I don't care - a fake, Hollywood-ified movie is never going to be as good as the true story, legit and taken from fact not fluff. Even if the official, authorized movie comes out later or is darker or has an unknown actor, it will inevitably be a lot better than a blown-out, fluffy, hack job. Just sayin!

  • Big Bomb | June 21, 2011 4:58 AMReply

    Don't forget the competing L. Ron Hubbard projects, with the one at Cal-Tech getting up before Orian could finish his ...

  • Corolla | June 21, 2011 1:22 AMReply

    A movie about Leonard Cohen's life would be great, too! Maybe a movie about the song, "Hallelujah" as it's now been recorded hundreds of times. Still not as many covers as lots of songs but it is really the greatest popular song of this current time.

  • Janie | June 20, 2011 12:27 PMReply

    I adore Badgely and I can't wait to see him as Jeff Buckley...Great Matchup.

  • Matt Kee | June 20, 2011 12:13 PMReply

    I'd break his throne and cut his hair any day.

  • Dougie | June 20, 2011 12:12 PMReply

    mmm. the penn badgley one seems like it'd be more promising - maybe a little different from your standard biopic fare.

  • gerald | June 20, 2011 12:10 PMReply

    penn badgely has a long one.... and successful and illustrious career that is.

  • Jo | June 20, 2011 12:09 PMReply

    I'm into the idea of Jeff Buckley before he was Jeff Buckley. Kind of like Motorcycle Diaries vs. Che and I definitely preferred the former.

  • AnnaLaura | June 20, 2011 12:03 PMReply

    Indie breakthrough for Penn Badgely I mean.

  • AnnaLaura | June 20, 2011 12:02 PMReply

    Soooo over Leto. What is this 1997? And Pattinson's acting hurts me.

    So on the other hand the one with Badgely could be sort of an indie breakthrough. Tantalizing.

  • Sammy | June 20, 2011 11:52 AMReply

    hmmmm we'll see

  • Zack | June 20, 2011 11:47 AMReply

    Penn is perfect casting for this. Can't wait!

  • Natasha | June 20, 2011 11:45 AMReply

    So excited to see Penn Badgely in this role! You can never have enough Buckley but I'm glad Penn will be the first to portray him on film. Very exciting!

  • Rebecca | June 20, 2011 11:33 AMReply

    hope to see both but just excited to hear that voice

  • henry | June 20, 2011 11:30 AMReply

    there should have been more movies about jeff buckley and his dad already, but i'm pretty excited that someone is actually finally making one rather than just endless headlines