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HOLLYWOOD'S BANDWAGON; Tinseltown finds its singing voice with a chorus of movies on music legends.

Byline: By John Millar

HOLLYWOOD is looking to the music world for inspiration and has come up with a batch of new movies about singing legends. i g legends. Big budget movies about Ray Charles,udget movies about Ray Charles, Bobby Darin, Johnny Cash and Cole Porter are currently in production.

ently in production.

The all-star casts include Oscar winners all-star casts include Oscar winners Kevin Spacey and Kevin Kline; red hot starpacey and Kevin Kline; red hot star Joaquin Phoenix and screen beauties Ashley Judd and Kate Bosworth.

nd Kate Bosworth.

The first film to start the disc spinning is irst film to start the disc spinning is De-Lovely, a biography of Cole Porter. This ely, a biography of Cole Porter. This tribute to the man who wrote such gems as to the man who wrote such gems as Begin The Beguine and Let's Do It, Let's Fallhe Beguine and Let's Do It, Let's Fall In Love is released on October 1. is released on October 1.

Kevin Kline plays Porter while Ashleyn Kline plays Porter while Ashley Judd is his wife Linda Lee, who was the his wife Linda Lee, who was the inspiration for many of his compositions. ration for many of his compositions. B But the intriguing gimmick in De-Lovely is that a host of pop stars - Robbie Williams, Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morisette and Elvis Costello among others - have been recruited to appear in the movie and perform Porter's greatest hits.

Clearly, this is a device which the film makers hope will make De-Lovely sound more attractive to a younger audience, who might not have been fully aware of the genius of Cole Porter.

A bonus too is that it's reckoned that Robbie Williams is so impressive in his cameo appearance as a dinner- suited wedding singer that it could open up a Hollywood career for the pop star.

Meanwhile, American Beauty star Kevin Spacey is obviously abig fan of Bobby Darin, the crooner famous for numbers such as Mack The Knife, Splish Splash and If I Were A Carpenter.

Not only does Spacey play Darin in the bio-pic Beyond The Sea, he also directs the movie.

Bobby Darin lived his remarkable life always knowing that it could be a tragically short one because he suffered from a heart condition, diagnosed when he was quite young.

The movie is about his life and career and his marriage to teen idol Sandra Dee who is played by Orlando Bloom's girlfriend, Kate Bosworth. Spacey reckoned that Kate was the perfect leading lady because she was the spitting image of singer Sandra Dee.

Spacey says: 'Aside from her remarkably beautiful face, she had in her own personality so many qualities that were dead-on for Sandra Dee.'

In Beyond The Sea, Spacey sings all the Darin favourites and the signs are that it'll be a hit with pop fans, since the movie was well received at a gala premiere earlier this month at the Toronto Film Festival.

Another singing star who is about to appear on screen is Joaquin Phoenix, who gets to grips with some country classics in Walk The Line, his portrayal of the legendary Man In Black, Johnny Cash, who died just over a year ago.

Unlike Kevin Spacey, who apparently had a whale of a time recording numbers for Beyond The Sea at the famous Abbey Road studios, Gladiator star Joaquin, who spent months learning guitar and preparing for the role, was apprehensive about breaking into song in a movie, saying: 'I have never felt so inadequate in my life.'

He adds that performing a bunch of concerts as Cash for the film - in which Reese Witherspoon plays Johnny Cash's wife, June Carter Cash - was a terrifying experience.

Less daunted by the singing was Jamie Foxx, currently starring with Tom Cruise in Collateral.

He takes on the role of legendary singer Ray Charles, who died of liver failure last June. Simply titled Ray, it is a warts-and-all movie that focuses on the turbulent life of the star - poverty, prejudice, affairs and his battle with drug addiction.

The performance by Jamie Foxx is so powerful that he's being tipped as a potential Oscar contender.

The beat created by these pop movies is clearly infectious because there's word of a Jimi Hendrix movie starring Andre 3000 of Outkast fame as the iconic guitar star.

And Hollywood isn't content with focusing on dramatised versions of pop's legends. There are also a series of big screen pop documentaries on the way.

These forthcoming films cover a huge chunk of the world of pop as the cameras zoom in on bands, from head banging Metallica to country and western legend Hank Williams and ill-fated American outfit The Ramones to girl band The Runaways.

The Edinburgh Film Festival brought the curtain up on Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster, a fly-on-the-wall epic that captures the drama as Metallica singer and guitarist James Hetfield walked out on the band for 11 months.

Behind the film End Of The Century, about The Ramones, is a terribly sad story, the sort that if it was dreamed up by Hollywood would have been criticised for being over the top.

Singer Joey Ramone died of lymphatic cancer three years ago, drummer Dee Dee Ramone overdosed after filming was finished and, recently, Johnny Ramone died of prostate cancer.

Those two documentaries are the ones that will no doubt grab the headlines, but no less intriguing are another couple of pop docs - Edgeplay:The Story Of The Runways about the girl group that featured Joan Jett and Lita Ford and Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues, which features rare footage of the 1950s country and western superstar, who was only 29 when he died but still managed to leave a musical legacy that lasts till this day.

Naturally,Hollywood takes a gamble that their pop movies will be a hit at the box office.

Previous experience shows that even films that are jam packed with pop talent don't always work out as planned.

A perfect example is Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, a happily- forgotten epic from 1978 which featured Beatles songs,The Bee Gees, Peter Frampton, Alice Cooper, Earth Wind And Fire and Aerosmith.The result? A resounding dud.

Naturally, the stars behind this new batch of pop movies are keeping their fingers crossed.


POP LEGENDS:; Bobby Darin is played by Kevin Spacey, with Kate Bosworth as his girlfriend Sandra Dee, below. Right, The Ramones feature in a documentary and, far right Jamie Foxx takes on the role of Ray Charles; CASHING IN: Left, Johhny; Cash and Joaquin Phoenix, who plays him. Right, Kevin Kline, Ashley Judd and Robbie Williams celebrate Cole Porter
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 25, 2004
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