Scorsese To Direct Frank Sinatra Biopic
Universal Pictures has acquired "Sinatra," a script by "Field of Dreams" screenwriter Phil Alden Robinson with Scorsese attached to direct. Mandalay Pictures' Peter Guber and Cathy Schulman are producing along with Scorsese and his Sikelia Prods.
The deal comes after years of negotiations with Frank Sinatra Enterprises, a joint venture of the crooner's estate and Warner Music Group. One major obstacle was the internal politics of the estate, where family members had to come to consensus on how to tell the story and, more importantly, just how much of the story to tell.
Then there were the complicated rights deals, with the entire venture at one point getting bogged down on merchandising rights to apparel that the studio and the family were haggling over. That issue appears to be resolved.
Scorsese has taken on a host of historical figures throughout his career, most notably boxer Jake la Motta, billionaire recluse Howard Hughes and Jesus.
"Sinatra" not only will allow Scorsese to tackle the life of a fellow Italian-American with enormous cultural impact, it will also give him a chance to paint a portrait of Sinatra's pal, Dean Martin. The filmmaker has for over a decade been developing a biopic on Martin titled "Dino," working with a script by his "Casino" and "Goodfellas" writer Nicholas Pileggi based on the Nick Tosches biography, "Dino: Livin' High in the Dirty Business of Dreams."
With the artistic and social life he led, Sinatra's personal history is perfectly tailored for dramatic storytelling. Raised during the Depression, he built a singing career that weathered many changes in popular culture, all while he racked up 31 gold records and countless other honors. He also had a successful career as an actor, proving naysayers wrong by earning an Oscar for "From Here to Eternity."
His personal life was just as eventful. He suffered from depression and a bipolar disorder, was alleged to have connections to organized crime and was married four times, including to actresses Ava Gardner and Mia Farrow.
No one has yet been cast in "Sinatra." The icon, who died 11 years ago today, was portrayed on the small screen by Philip Casnoff in a 1992 TV movie and by Ray Liotta in HBO's 1998 movie, "The Rat Pack."