Whatever happened to that damn Jeff Buckley biopic that was announced years ago that seems to have gone nowhere?
It's hard to keep track of the time-line, but a second attempt to pull off a film was announced in the trades in 2006 if that gives you any indication.
Back then, Brian Jun, whose "Steel City" was nominated for the grand jury prize at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, was set to direct and it was called, "Mystery White Boy."
His mother, Mary Guibert, has been flogging, shepherding and protecting his biopic from the wrong hands since day one.
Attempt #1 at the biopic was actually made by Buckley fan, Brad Pitt, who once achieved Guibert's blessing, and then hired Emma Forrest, a British novelist and journalist, to write a screenplay in the vein of the 1979 Bette Midler film “The Rose,” according to the New York Times article from '06. Both of her "too fantastic" drafts were rejected (Buckley met the ghost of Judy Garland in one ill-conceived scene) and that version fizzled fast and Pitt gave up (Guibert has been notoriously hands on, which has perhaps persuaded other filmmakers, but it's obviously a legacy she feels she must protect, and rightly so). But Brad Pitt was apparently never set to star in the actual film, according to Guibert's rigorously noted Jeff Buckley Biopic Fact-Check FAQ (which now seems to be out of date since it seems last updated in 2008, "All he wanted to do was help produce a project that would have been close to his heart. Brad is still on a list of people we would love to have work with us," she once wrote).
David Browne's 2001 biography, “Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley” was optioned in 2005 by Train Houston, an L.A. writer who briefly interested Tobey Maguire’s production company in the project, but Guibert disliked his version of the script as well and the project halted.
Guibert and Michelle Sy, who executive-produced "Finding Neverland," then tried for the aforementioned take #2 that apparently went nowhere either. At the time she wrote on the Jeff Buckley site, "Brian [Jun] is not the sort of fellow to sugar-coat or manipulate the facts. I've looked into his eyes and I know that he's a straight shooter."
Finally some new news via the Australian press, which we can confirm we've known about for some time. Orian Williams, who produced the well-received Joy Division, Ian Curtis biopic, "Control," in onboard, and a new screenwriter has been hired, Ryan Jaffe, who wrote "The Rocker" (please hold your comments on that one). Jun seems to be entirely out of the picture now and or at least, the Aussie article doesn't mention him.
IMDB pro lists the film as a 2010 film, but it's still early days as the project is still in development. The Aussie Courier Mail says that Jared Leto, James Franco, Robert Pattinson and James Marsden are all interested in the part and we can confirm producers are interested in them as well.
The timing of this news and or Guibert talking again, maybe somewhat calculated, This month, she releases Grace Around The World, a collection of live versions from various Buckley shows. She's a pretty fierce woman and even mock's Buckley's father, the estimable experimental folkie Tim Buckley who died of a drug overdose in 1975 (honestly, we prefer Buckey's acid-fried music better).
So anyhow, yes take three on the Jeff Buckley biopic is currently underway. When it hits the screen? These things take a while. One point of contention: every report about Buckley says he is known for recording the "definitive" version of "Hallelujah," and while we like his celestial-voiced falsetto, the definitive version of that song will always be the one made by its creator, Leonard Cohen. Sorry, Buckley fans. That said, bring on the biopic, we'd be interested to see how it pans out.