But in Keanu, a love of George Michael goes much deeper than his tunes. As the comedy duo look to retrieve their kitten from a local drug dealer, it's revealed that the thug has a George Michael tattoo. In another scene, Michael's video for "Faith" is incorporated into the story.
"A golden opportunity dropped in our laps," Lippman tells Billboard. With the anniversary of Listen Without Prejudice coming up in September, "we were trying to find as much exposure as possible."
Michael himself had to sign off on the usage, and he did, leaving it to Lippman, who's worked with him since 1986 ("with some time off for bad behavior -- not mine!," Lippman cracks), to make the call.
Of course, there was some concern about being the butt of a joke, but, says Lippman, "They promised me that wouldn’t be the intention. The way it was described to me was that [George Michael] was so cool that even drug lords got a tattoo of him. ... [Key's and Peele's] characters go from quiet, unassuming guys to street thugs and they wanted to show something that didn’t seem right, but when put into that situation, works perfectly They chose him to be this character because of what his music meant and they turned George into a cool badass."
Key & Peele Lampoon Phish Fans on Finale: 'When Dudes Get Into Phish, They Don't Come Back'
Michael's team was also shown a rough cut of the New Line movie, after which minor changes were made. "The director, [Peter Atencio], was fantastic," says Lippman, who hopes to see a bump in streams and increased interest in his client. "It’s great for George and his songs as people become more curious about his music," he adds.
Although early box office numbers indicate a solid debut for the film, which had a modest budget of $15 million, Lippman cautions, "We have our fingers crossed; New Line has been happy with the initial reaction, and I’m getting tweets and lots of emails from people loving it. I think it will also work well around the world."
The same could be said for the wave of George Michael nostalgia. Says Lippman: "We’ve had an unprecedented 13 synchs this year leading into the anniversary album. It's just getting started."