Thursday, June 20, 2024

Jake Gyllenhaal to Play Famed Late Composer Conductor Leonard Bernstein in BioPic


Jake Gyllenhaal is out there looking for Oscar material and he may have found it.

Jake has signed to play the late composer (with Stephen Sondheim) of “West Side Story” and conductor Leonard Bernstein in a movie tentatively titled “The American.” Let’s hope they change that once the film is being made.

Bernstein, of course, lived larger than life, with a wife, children, and a whole gay life. He lived it at the Dakota on the Upper West Side, which was the grandest setting he could find.

The movie is based on a book by Humphrey Burton. Says a press release: In five movements, like a symphony, “The American” follows Leonard Bernstein from conducting the New York Philharmonic at the impressive age of 25 through the meteoric rise to fame, all while struggling both personally and publicly to be everything that everyone expected him to be, most of all himself.

Cary Joji Fukunaga, of “True Detective” and “Beasts of No Nation” fame, is directing and producing along with Gyllehaal’s production company and Sierra/Affinity.

Gyllenhaal says in a release: “Like many people, Leonard Bernstein found his way into my life and heart through West Side Story when I was a kid. But as I got older and started to learn about the scope of his work, I began to understand the extent of his unparalleled contribution and the debt of gratitude modern American culture owes him. As a man, Bernstein was a fascinating figure—full of genius and contradiction—and it will be an incredible honor to tell his story with a talent and friend like Cary.”

The press release says the screenplay by Michael Mitnick is based on the Burton book but that it’s also “an original idea.” Two of the producers listed are married couple Adam Gopnick and Martha Parker; he’s an editor at  The New Yorker and she has credits in art departments as an assistant on a few films.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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