A new 'Star Is Born' with Russell Crowe? Is this a bad, really bad idea?
When I first read my colleagues Steven Zeitchik and Rachel Abramowitz's intriguing post about a new film where the male lead plays an "aging, alcoholic musician who mentors/is schooled by--and then finds romance with--a younger female star," I thought for sure that some crazy producer had decided to make a low-budget knockoff of "Crazy Heart."
But no, it's Warner Bros., who, if the rumor mill is right, is pursuing Russell Crowe to star in yet another remake of "A Star Is Born," with Beyonce taking the female lead. (The most recent remake of this ancient "she's up as he's heading down" melodrama was in 1976, with Kris Kristofferson and Barbra Streisand as the doomed lovers.) To say that Crowe would be a step down from Kristofferson, especially if the story remains set in the world of music, is an understatement.
I was once a big Crowe fan, but I have to say that his recent string of duds, including "State of Play," "Body of Lies," "A Good Year" and "Cinderella Man," all in the past five years, have made me a non-believer. Despite giving a knockout performance in "American Gangster," his box- office credentials are shaky at best, as is his likability quotient with American moviegoers. Warners may have seen an early cut of Crowe's "Robin Hood," due this May, that is making them believe he still has some juice, but that's not the vibe I've been getting from rank and file moviegoers, who have clearly lost that lovin' feeling for Crowe.
Beyonce is a different story. She's young, sexy, hot (in a pop culture way) and even though she didn't make a dent with her role as Etta James in "Cadillac Records," she did have a surprise hit last spring in the thriller "Obsessed." It's still an open question as to whether she could carry the kind of role she'd have in a new "Star Is Born," especially since she's played it so safe with most of her solo albums, but obviously having her above the title would definitely give the project more heat than it would get from the usual suspects (meaning thank God Warners isn't trying to cast Jessica Alba or Megan Fox in the part).
I'm sure having Beyonce on board will also give the film a big media bounce, since it would be a breakthrough for Hollywood to actually make a film with a real interracial romance, something that has been verboten in studio films for years. But if I sound skeptical about the whole idea, it's that when it comes to remakes, at least good remakes, you need to have a really good reason to make the film. If all Warners is doing is simply updating a hoary idea to 2010 and giving it some hip-hop flava, then I'm guessing this version of "A Star Is Born" isn't going to be the one that will make any memories.
Photo by Armando Arorizo / EPA