He’s certainly a controversial figure who has people on both ends of the political spectrum listening, but are the movies ready for Rush Limbaugh? We just may find out, as writer/producer James Sclafani is currently shopping a bio-pic script based on the commentator’s life around Hollywood right now.
Deadline is reporting Sclafani describing the script as “a close cousin to the Oliver Stone-directed George W. Bush feature W, in that he tries to get beneath the surface politics and controversies and down to the ambition and demons that drove Limbaugh’s success.”
Based on New York journalist Paul Colford’s book The Rush Limbaugh Story: Talent On Loan From God, the proposed film will include a warts and all look at the commentator, including his 4-F draft status during Vietnam and how his anti-drug diatribes were contradicted by the revelation of his addiction to illegal painkillers.
As Sclafani is quoted -
This is Citizen Kane meets Private Parts, where you have a man who always had trouble relating to people in the outside world, but does it effortlessly in the booth. There’s this anecdote about a game of spin the bottle in high school. The bottle pointed at him, and the pretty girl who was supposed to kiss him ran away, and that stayed with him. When he came up in radio, he was culturally opposed to everything happening in the 60s and 70s, and all this left him with something to prove. He is an underdog, and became an extremely determined person with something to prove.
I think as a Howard Stern fan, I take exception to the Private Parts comparison in that Stern has often used his personal life as gist for the mill of his show, where Limbaugh seems to shy away from discussing the more controversial, and some would argue more interesting, aspects of his personal life on the air. Although Limbaugh did not actively oppose the writing of Colford’s book – it contains material gleaned from interviews with his mother, brother and ex-wives – it is not known yet what his reaction will be to the proposed film. Though I don’t think that Sclafani comparing the film to Oliver Stone’s W is really going to endear Limbaugh much to the project.
As to who could play Limbaugh? As an outspoken Hollywood conservative, Kelsey Grammer springs to mind. The Frasier star is certainly no stranger to acting in a radio broadcast booth. But if the script paints a negative picture of the broadcaster, I think that Grammer would decline.
I have to admit that this is a hard sell for me, and not just because of my own feelings about Limbaugh and his contributions to the country’s political dialogue. As we’ve seen over and over again in the past several years, politically-themed films have not done well at the box office, no matter where on the political spectrum they landed. If Limbaugh decides that the film is a less-than-flattering portrayal, he will have months before its release to rail against it and his listeners will stay away in droves. Would liberals want to see a film that would reinforce why they don’t like Limbaugh? Conversely, liberals would certainly pass on seeing the film if it were a love letter to Limbaugh and I don’t think that the Limbaugh-faithful would be enough to make the film big at the box office.