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Penn Badgley Will Play Jeff Buckley — But It’s Not a Biopic

Penn Badgley Will Play Jeff Buckley -- But It's Not a Biopic

Penn Badgley will star as Jeff Buckley in “Greetings from Tim Buckley.” Now in preproduction, the film will start shooting in August under the direction of Dan Algrant (“Naked in New York”). Algrant wrote the script with Emma Sheanshang and David Brendel.

“Greetings from Tim Buckley” is not being positioned as a Jeff Buckley biopic but as a father-son drama. [See related story: The Tale of Two Jeff Buckley Movies: Which One Will Win?]

All music for “Greetings from Tim Buckley” will come from the Tim Buckley estate, with one exception: Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” which Jeff Buckley covered on his only studio album, the 1994 “Grace.”

Here’s the logline:

“Greetings from Tim Buckley” follows the true story of the days leading up to Jeff Buckley’s eminent 1991 performance at his father’s tribute concert in St. Ann’s Church. Through a romance with a young woman working at the concert, he comes to understand the father who abandoned him.  Culminating in a cathartic performance of his father’s most famous songs, Jeff’s debut stuns the audience and launches his career as one of the greatest young musicians of his time.

The 25-year-old Badgley has been acting more more than a decade and is best known for his role in the hit WB series “Gossip Girl.” Said Badgley in a statement, “To play a man who was singularly gifted as an artist, greatly misunderstood and mythologized as a human being… It’s something very special and sacred. I’m going to give all I can to this project.”

Tim Buckley made nine studio albums before he died at 28 in 1977, after a drug overdose. Jeff Buckley died at 30 in 1997, in an accidental drowning.

The film’s producers are Patrick Milling Smith of Smuggler Films, Fred Zollo of A-Z Prods. and John N. Hart of Second Chance Prods. The executive producers are Brian Carmody, Jill Footlick and Ben Limberg. The DP is Andrij Parekh, who also shot “Blue Valentine” and “Half Nelson.”

Said Smith in a statement:

“In its purest form this is a father and son story, a rite of passage that is made possible by a romantic journey Jeff finds himself on. We see Jeff accepting who he is to become and laying to rest the ghost of his father while ultimately finding his voice. We had been searching well over a year for an actor that can come close to Jeff’s spirit while also having the serious musical chops required to authentically tell this story. Penn’s audition blew us away and we knew we found our star.”

Smuggler is also developing the stage production of “Once,” which will premiere in December at the NY Theatre Workshop. Also in preproduction is the feature “Becket,” written and directed by William Monahan.

Finally, if you haven’t had the pleasure: Here’s Jeff Buckley performing “Halleujah.”

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