A Linda Lovelace movie (or two) fights on
The film world is sufficiently enamored of Linda Lovelace to develop not one but two biopics about the porn pioneer. But can even get one off the ground?
Lovelace is of course the late "Deep Throat" actress who became an anti-porn crusader; she's seen as an icon, albeit a troubled one, who endured tribulations in first breaking ground and then regretting it afterward.
A year ago, Lindsay Lohan was set to play the lead in "Inferno," one of the two independently financed movies about the colorful Lovelace -- before the tabloid fixture's off-screen troubles resulted in her getting the boot.
"Watchmen" star Malin Akerman is now on board to star as the '70s icon, confirms "Inferno" director Matthew Wilder, and adds that, though there's no financing in place at the moment, the project hasn't lost steam. Wilder said in an email to The Times that he and the film's producers are making a deal with Louisiana-based investors that they hope to have closed soon; they aim to finish casting the film (including the lead role of controversial Lovelace ex-husband Chuck Traynor, who is alleged to have abused his ex-wife and manipulated her into becoming a porn star) in time to shoot this summer.
In the meantime, directors Jeffrey Friedman and Robert Epstein ("Howl") continue to push forward on "Lovelace," their own take on the star born Linda Boreman, in what they call a "nontraditional biopic."
Reached by phone last week, Friedman told 24 Frames that "I'm pretty optimistic about [the fate of the project] today, but that does change by the day." The casting process, he said, is continuing apace -- Kate Hudson had been rumored for the lead role, though Friedman declined to confirm she was on board. The filmmakers hope that the project will come together within the next few weeks for what will also be a summer shoot.
Producers will generally back off a project if a competing film beats it to the production starting line. But the fervor to make movies about real-life figures can sometimes lead to two rival films being made and released, which happened in the mid 2000s when a pair of films about Truman Capote ("Capote" and "Infamous") came out within a year of one another.
The "Lovelace" filmmakers see in their subject's life a kind of pop-cultural origin story. "The seeds of celebrity culture were just beginning to sprout then, and while the phenomenon of Linda Lovelace feels so familiar with all the Web celebrity stuff we're inundated with now, but back then it was really something new," Friedman said, adding "There was also the evolution of sexual consciousness in this country, and she became the poster child for various phases of that."
But it's not a surprise that a Lovelace movie would have trouble getting made. While 2005 porn-world documentary "Inside Deep Throat" (in which Lovelace figured prominently) was distributed by Universal Pictures, the studio world, and even independent financiers, has become more conservative since then. (Fox Searchlight is developing a movie about sexploitation director Russ Meyer, written by the "Lovelace" screenwriter.)
Lovelace also isn't an easy personality to decipher. As Friedman said, "You need to take an interesting perspective on the story because her own perspective on her life kept shifting."
--Steven Zeitchik, with reporting by Amy Kaufman
Photo: Linda Lovelace arriving at the Academy Awards in 1974. Credit: Associated Press