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Warners not happy with Reeves biopic

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A potentially interesting comic-book themed film is opening this weekend, HOLLYWOODLAND, starring Ben Affleck, Adrian Brody and the ever radiant Diane Lane in a film covering the still-mysterious death of actor George Reeves, who played Superman on TV. Affleck plays the actor who either shot himself while a card game was going on downstairs in the house, or else got whacked by the mobster husband of the woman he was dating. A wire story talks about the film, with much emphasis on the difficulties the movie faced due to Warners’ desire to distance Superman from a sordid tale of suicide and infidelity.

The low-budget biopic – set in the late 1950s and starring Ben Affleck as TV “Superman” George Reeves and Adrien Brody as a private eye investigating Reeves’ suicide – shows the actor to be an adulterer, a drunk and an industry laughingstock. It also floats the theory, via Brody’s down-and-out gumshoe, that Reeves didn’t commit suicide in 1959; that he was murdered by a jealous studio exec and that the Hollywood police and press not only bungled the investigation but also may have facilitated a coverup.

Little wonder Warner and DC discouraged the making of the picture. You might even say they put up roadblocks, nixing the movie’s original title (“Truth, Justice & the American Way”), turning down requests for clips from the “Adventures of Superman” series and forbidding any use of the Superman image in ads. The posters make “Hollywoodland” look like a generic film-noir mystery a la “Chinatown.”

“I didn’t realize DC and Warners had such a lock on the world of Superman,” says director Allen Coulter during a stopover in San Francisco to promote his unusual new film. “They have a proprietary attitude toward Superman’s image and were leery about what we were doing.”


The story is unusually frank in the complaints from filmmakers.

You can see the HOLLYWOODLAND trailer here and more clips at the Yahoo page.

You can read more about the mystery of George Reeves death at Wikipedia.

  1. Somewhat interestingly (at least to folks like me) is that I had kinda always assumed that this movie was based on the book HOLLYWOOD KRYPTONITE from about ten years back. But I don’t see any mention of the book or its authors Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger in any of the (admittedly perfunctory) looks I’ve taken at the movie credits and materials…

  2. “They have a proprietary attitude toward Superman’s image and were leery about what we were doing…”

    And that’s a surprise to them? That DC didn’t want their premier character associated with a lurid murder conspiracy? Seems awfully obvious to me.

    I think I’ll make a movie about the life of Lynda Carter and put forth a theory that she used to kick kids while dressed as Wonder Woman: I think DC will really go for that!

  3. I think a film about Lynda Carter kicking kids would just be a smear job which of course no one would want to help out, but the death of George Reeves had long been one of Hollywood’s more gossip worthy tales, and usually takes its rightful place along side Marilyn Monroe, Fatty Arbuckle, Lana Turner and all the others. Not sure why anyone would feel this in anyway potentially tarnishes Superman.

  4. DC think it would tarnish Superman because their core market is so old that to many of them George Reeves was Superman, just as, for many, Adam West will always be Batman.

    The most bizarre thing about all this though is to find myself actually looking forward to a Ben Affleck movie.

  5. Ditto. I am generally not a fan of either Ben Afleck or his boyfriend, Matt Damon. But Syriana changed my mind about Matt and maybe woodland will change my mind about Ben.

    BTW, would somebody tell those guys it was Holly-Woodland (pr: woodlind), not Hollywood-land!

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