Monday, January 8, 2007

Men On The Moon 11.30.99

The team behind The People vs. Larry Flynt, two-time Academy Award-winning director Milos Forman and writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, have re-convened to make the Andy Kaufman biopic, Man On The Moon.

Milos Forman is no stranger to biographical and historical films. His resume includes Valmont (an adaptation of Les Liaisons Dangereux), E.L. Doctorow’s ode to the turn-of-the-century Ragtime, Ken Kesey’s based-on-real-events One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and the Mozart biopic, Amadeus.

Alexander and Karaszewski’s credits are slightly less impressive. The partners are responsible for Problem Child and Problem Child 2, the remake of Disney’s That Darn Cat, and Alexander’s solo contribution, the ignoble Spaced Invaders. They made their first foray into biopics with the outstanding Ed Wood proving that their talents pooled with the right director can generate greatness.

Of course, the themes that ran through Forman, Alexander and Karaszewski’s earlier projects become undercurrents in their work together. More than likely, these themes were there all along, just waiting to be combined with the other filmmakers’ key elements to create genius. An investigation of all their biopics indeed surfaces recurring motifs.

Amadeus (1984)
written by Peter Shaffer; directed by Milos Forman

Problem Child: Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Cuckoo’s Nest: Antonio Salieri narrates from a cell in the insane asylum.
Dangerous Liaison: Amadeus’ affair with his pupil prompts jealous Salieri to drive Amadeus to risk his wealth and health to complete the “Requiem.”
Problem Child 2: Settling down, Amadeus married Constanze Weber who bore him six children, three of whom died in infancy.

Ed Wood (1994)
written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski; directed by Tim Burton

Problem Child: Filmmaker Edward D. Wood, Jr.
Cuckoo’s Nest: Bela Lugosi kicked the habit in a detox center
Dangerous Liaison: Angora sweaters.
Problem Child 2: In 1978, Ed Wood died a penniless, alcoholic writer of smut. Twenty years after his death, his last unproduced screenplay I Woke Up Early The Day I Died finally saw the light of day starring Billy Zane.

The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)
written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski; directed by Milos Forman

Problem Child: Pornographer Larry Flynt
Cuckoo’s Nest: Flynt was sentenced to the looney-bin for his courtroom antics
Dangerous Liaison: A chaste but bizarre relationship with evangelist Ruth Carter Stapleton converted Flynt into a born-again Christian and nearly collapsed Hustler.
Problem Child 2: On April 7, 1998, Flynt was charged with nine counts of pandering obscenity, three counts of disseminating matters harmful to juveniles, two counts of conspiracy to engage in a pattern of corrupt activity and one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

Man On The Moon (1999)
written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski; directed by Milos Forman

Problem Child: Comic/actor/wrestler/busboy Andy Kaufman
Cuckoo’s Nest: Kaufman: “My mother sent me to psychiatrists since the age of four because she didn't think little boys should be sad. When my brother was born, I stared out the window for days. Can you imagine that?”
Dangerous Liaison: Kaufman’s association with pro-wrestling manager Classy Fred Blassie and his subsequent career wrestling women turned public opinion against him and, ultimately, found Kaufman hospitalized at the hands of wrestler Jerry Lawler.
Problem Child 2: Many believe Kaufman faked his death and will re-appear at the Hollywood premiere of Man On The Moon or the re-release of My Breakfast With Blassie.

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