November 15, 2005

The O'Connor biopic.

Yesterday, we were discussing the new biography of Sandra Day O'Connor. In the comments, readers started to cast the movie made from the book:
P. Froward said...

I want to see an O'Connor biopic! Like a "Behind the Music" kind of thing, you know, personal torments and redemption and all that. Loretta Lynn, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash... Justice O'Connor....

Simon said...

Also starring Nick Cage as Stephen Breyer, Catheryn Zeta-Jones as Ruth Ginsburg, Chris Barrie as Dave Souter, and Charles Bronson as Antonin Scalia.

Featuring a cameo appearance from Sir Sean Connery as Robert Bork, who turns out to have been the arch-villain all along!
Please contribute to this casting fantasy!

For the record: I hate the biopics that come out this time of year. Which singer will die next and have his dumb musician's problems reenacted by a hammy actor who wants an Oscar really bad? Oh, this is a two question post now. Name the singer who will die and the actor who will play him/her.


Dave said...


The actor would be the bastard love child of Gwynnie and Britney.

How precious would that be?

Henry said...

Since its a biopic, they'll need some kid actor to play O'Connor as a girl. Too bad Tatum O'Neill is all grown up. Angelina Jolie will play O'Connor in her prime.

Johnny Depp will play Ronald Reagan.

Rupert Everett will play Margaret Thatcher in drag.

bill said...

I was listening to Robert Johnson this morning and this reminded me there hasn't been a decent movie made about him.

The closest would have to be the cheeseball Crossroads. It starred Ralph Macchio as the Juilliard trained blues prodigy and Jami Gertz as the underage runaway hooker. On the plus side, music was by Ry Cooder and Joe Seneca, playing Willie Brown, uttered two of my favorite movie lines:

1. Boy, don't you know Muddy Waters invented electricity.

2. Blues ain't nothin' but a good man feelin' bad.

Though if a Madonna biopic meant she'd kicked the bucket, I wouldn't complain.

When they do die, these two guys have bios worth telling: Peter Wolf and Billy Zoom.

Mark Daniels said...

For Sandra Day O'Connor: Tippy Hendron

For RBG: As has been suggested, Ruth Buzzi, or perhaps, Olympia Dukakis

For William Rehnquist: Christopher Lloyd

In a cast that is so old, I'm certain that the film industry would insist on throwing in a few promiscuous law clerks to spice up the interest for the "right demographic."

Mark Daniels

Jeff with one 'f' said...

All that you say is true about celebrity biopics with one magnificent exception: Coal Miner's Daughter
by Michael Apted. I can't say enough about how great this movie is.

Honorable mention must go to Halloween director John Carpenter's Elvis: The Movie, a tv film starring Kurt Russell (!), and yes, it's really good.

Ron said...

Would it be safe to say that Hollywood would be more aggresively engaged in the culture war if they cast Gilbert Gottfried and Fran Drescher as Ron and Nancy Reagan?

or...Lindsey Lohan as O'Connor? Johnny Knoxville as Scalia? Boy George could always be Michael Moore...that's typecasting there...Jack Palance as Cheney? (c'mon you gotta want to see Cheney say someday, "I crap bigger than you." Or has he already?)

Simon said...

Perhaps: Michael Chiklis as Bill Rehnquist, George Clooney as John Roberts, Hayley Joel Osment as George W. Bush, and Iain McDiarmid as Ted Kennedy. The whole thing concludes with an apocalyptic lightsabre fight to the death between Kennedy and Bork with an army of clone Democratic bloggers watching from the sidelines.

Quick, Breyerman! To the Stare Decisismobile!

Ah, Underneath Their Robes disappears, and Althouse steps forward...Although this is less frothy than just outright hallucinogenic. Ann will be confused on returning from her surgery. ;)

Ann Althouse said...

Chez Althouse, we love Madonna. Her new CD came out today. We're playing it all day long! She won't die until she's 100, at least. Have you looked at her lately? She's 46 or something and incredibly athletic. Did you see her at the MTV European Video Awards ceremony? She was great, better than anyone. Madonna is the official pop star of the Althouse blog.

Ann Althouse said...

Simon: Yeah, people need to write some weird funny stuff here for me to enjoy when I'm brain damaged later this afternoon.

Starless said...

Sean Connery (Robert Bork) will have to have a scene with Samuel L Jackson (Clarence Thoms) explaining that, "If the Senate comes after you with a knife, you go after them with a gun and send them to the morgue!"

Singer biopic: The lives and loves and, yes, tragedies, of Clay Aiken as portrayed by Jackie Mason.

The Mojician said...

Bob Dylan will die and Jon Cryer will star as Dylan in his biopic.

bill said...

I'm expecting a B5 movie by Spring Break. Since I'd never heard of them before this story, I suggest a biopic in the style of a nature documentary. B5 will be played by sheep and the teenage girls will be played by hungry wolves. Or seals and killer whales. Whichever way the focus groups go.

desconhecido said...

In the O'Connor flick:

Danny Devito as Scalia and Rhea Perleman as Ginzburg. Alternatives: Dan Hedaya and Linda Hunt.

goesh said...

OMG! Bronson as Scalia. You sure draw e'm out. Palance as Cheney! HA HA Couldn't high-handed Clarence Thomas have some minor part to play? I want Michael Jackson as high-handed Clarence - neither he nor Michael has ever been in the wrong you know.

Ann Althouse said...

Bronson's dead.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Bonnie Hunt as Ann Althouse!

Dave said...

Bonnie Hunt! Ha! Is she still around? What's she doing now, infomercials?

PatCA said...

Nothing to add on the casting suggestions. I would like Oliver Stone as director, though. The film would be as never ending and scintillating as a boilerplate set of interrogatories!

Maddona's video (and body), BTW, inspired a few of us in the office to start dieting. :) I am not worthy...

Matt said...

Bonnie Hunt was second billed in "Cheaper By The Dozen" in 2003, and the sequel to that arrives this Christmas. (And yes, Bonnie Hunt would be suitable to play Ann.)

If you're doing "little Sandy," obviously, you go with precocious moppet, a market which Dakota Fanning has cornered.

HaloJonesFan said...

Looking for a triumph of modern science? Look at Madonna's bum!

(Just remember: You're admiring the victory of science over grim fate, which is why it's okay for you to type "MADONNA BUTT PICTURES" into Google.")

Lonesome Payne said...

The young Jack Nicholson as Scalia.

Of course I think the young Jack Nicholson would have made a good Gandalf. "The young Jack Nicholson" is pretty much my answer to these questions.

Dave said...

"Which singer will die next and have his dumb musician's problems reenacted by a hammy actor who wants an Oscar really bad? Oh, this is a two question post now. Name the singer who will die and the actor who will play him/her."

OK, why "his dumb musician's problems" and then "the actor who will play him/her"?

Either "him" or "him/her" but not both! My eyes glaze over.

Wade Garrett said...

Biopics about legendary American singers come out two years in a row, and suddenly its this big downward trend that is imposing on everybody's life? I wasn't a fan of Ray, but by all accounts Walk the Line is supposed to be really good. Why is it any worse than the rest of the holiday movies? Taken a little bit further, its easy to reduce any movie to just a bunch of silly problems. The problem with Mystic River was that the Sean Penn character had all of these silly 'my daughter was murdered' problems. The trouble with Kill Bill was that the Bride had all of these silly 'my former coworkers tried to kill me at my wedding' problems . . .

If Rod Stewart dies, maybe they'll cast Phyllis Diller to play him in a movie.

daisygram said...

singer: Neil Diamond
actor: Peter Gallagher

Anonymous said...

Anyone know what Ann and Madonna have in common?

Ron said...

I can't wait for the scene where Samuel L. Jackson (Thomas) brings out the Constitution, (you know...that thing from National Treasure) to show Travolta (Souter) and says, "Yeah, that's my BadMotherFucker."

Patrick J. Fitzgerald said...

Can I make a cameo?

Ron said...

hmmm...I think Bonnie Hunt lacks the gravitas to be Ann...and Helen Hunt lacks the gravitas to play Bonnie Hunt! Patricia Clarkson, perhaps? Ellen Barkin? Moore? No, she can't do comedy like Ann....

Tough call! We may have to cast --shudder-- a TV actor! Someone from American Idol will give us a frission of irony...

I'll have to go to my couch and perhaps do some more casting...

JLo33 said...

I certainly don't he'll be the next to die, but when Bono shuffles off this mortal coil, he will probably need to resurrect himself for the movie since a.) who else has that big an ego? and b.) a lot of people seem to want to assign him divine status anyway, so why not go ahead and dispel all doubters?

Anonymous said...

Singer: Jessica Simpson
Actor: Ashlee Simpson

Coco said...

"I can't wait for the scene where Samuel L. Jackson (Thomas) brings out the Constitution, (you know...that thing from National Treasure) to show Travolta (Souter) and says, "Yeah, that's my BadMotherFucker." "

Good one

I can't wait for the one, later in the movie, where Samuel Jackson (THomas) on his death-bed, brandishing a leather-bound pocket copy of the Constitution and says: "There's a passage I got memorized: (reads 14th Amendment). "I've been saying that shit for years. And if a lawyer arguing on behalf of affirmative action ever heard it, it meant your ass. I never really questioned what it meant. I thought it was just a cold-blooded thing to say to a "mf" affirmative action program before I popped a cap in its ass. But I saw some shit this mornin' made me think twice....

tefta said...

I haven't played this game before, is okay to name dead people to play other dead people?

Joe Giles said...

Dead or not (or Canadian), Bronson's still a better actor than half of these twits who share his profession.

And re: Madonna, I think she's right about television. Unwatchable.

Mark the Pundit said...

Justice Stevens: James Whitmore

Justice Scalia: Paul Sorvino

Justice Thomas: Cedric the Entertainer

Finn Alexander Kristiansen said...

There are some funny comments in here (Simon, Starless, Ron).

As for Bonnie Hunt, I love that woman. (She would make a great Ann). I've always thought that she and Sarah Jessica Parker were sleeping with David Letterman because he always has them on, whether they have products to pitch or not.

(Kinda like when Amy Grant and Vince Gill started doing all this singing and hosting awards shows togther and suddenly, out of nowhere, she divorces Gary Chapman and runs off to Gill. Like I didn't predict that before it happened).

Someone should have done a Stevie Ray Vaughan movie already.


dead musician: Fionna Apple
played by: Kate Moss or Calista Flockhart (and is Harrison Ford still taping that bag of bones?)

Finn Alexander Kristiansen said...

I meant "tapping", as in intercourse, or sap from a tree, not taping, as in psycho killer.

Anonymous said...

Answer: Ann and Madonna were both undergrads at Michigan. (Madonna lasted only 1 year, but you should see the videos of her in the dance program there!)

Gerry said...

Cast the Supremes?

Hm. Gotta have DeNiro as Scalia. I would go with James Earl Jones as Thomas.

Meryl Streep as O'Connor. Abe Vigoda as Rehnquist.

Breyer? Kevin Spacey. Ginsburg? Garafolo. Stevens? Fyvush Finkel.

Let's give Anthony Kennedy some star power, or his actor a lot of makeup, and go with Nicholas Cage. No, on second thought, Kevin Spacey.

Souter? Woody Allen.

Hm. John Roberts? Mel Gibson? He's got the height part right, I think.

Sam Alito? Albert Brooks.

Coco said...

I think Roberts would have to be played by Greg Kinnear - they are almost dead ringers for each other and talk alike as well.

I also think Souter and Breyer could play each other - depends on who goes first.

Tapping - that's funny

Coco said...

As for biopics and musicians - I don't really see the beef. Its not as if the most recent musicians featured in biopics are uninteresting or run of the mill singers. Johnny Cash and Ray Charles are not exactly Billy Ray Cyrus and Van Halen (I was going to say 50 Cent, but then I remembered that he has a quasi-biopic out there - so I'll give ya that one).

One of my favorite movies ever is a biopic about a musician: Amadeus.

Ron said...

Can I have Dennis Haysbert as Sam Jackson as the President? (Hey! Waitaminute!) Just so he could look at Syria and Iran and say, "Now normally both your asses would be as dead as fuckin fried chicken, but I'm in a transitional period and I don't want to have to kill ya..."

Classic Actress as Ann? Judy Holiday.

Ron said...

brylin: It appears Madonna hung a left at Ave Maria Town, and is cruising the freeways of Kabbalahville!

XWL said...

Hmmm, combination dead pool and fantasy casting post, what could be better.

I'm ignoring the SCOTUS portion so straight to the pop stars.

Michael Jackson (he's not old but doesn't look so healthy) played by Johnny Depp (he's already done a dry run as Willy Wonka).

Or Keith Richards (are you sure he's even still alive, that's a reanimated corpse on stage) played by, drumroll please, Johnny Depp (he's already done a dry run in Pirates, I, II & III)

Or Kurt Cobain (dead over a decade yet still no biopic, strange that) played by Johnny Depp (so what if he's much older than Kurt ever got, he could still do it)

Or Courtney Love (she's not long for this world) played by Johnny Depp (damn, is there anyone he can't play?) they could even combine it with the Cobain movie (or remake Sid & Nancy (which Courtney has a brief appearance in) as Kurt & Courtney.

Or Ozzy Osbourne (which is being produced as we speak, with rumor has it starring, yep, you guessed it, Johnny Depp, and this one's for real though)

That's enough for now, and no I'm not Johnny Depp obsessed, really, no really, what do you mean, yeah right, I said I'm not obsessed, why won't you believe me?

XWL said...

And one other thing, I thought I'd pipe in with my rational for Biopic hatred (which some have taken Ann to task for)

It's not just Ray and Cash, but the trend stretches back far and should also include the tragic artists films such as Frida, Pollock, Picasso, Van Gogh and the like (Capote fits in there too).

The problem I have is that they all have to follow the E! True Hollywood Story formula. They always end up being more about soap-opera than about the artists as artist. Every artist must have some TRAGIC PROBLEM that either destoys them or that they barely overcome.

My theory is that the suits that greenlight pictures hate artist. They want to pound home the message that, yeah you may have actual talent, but you pay for that talent with personal misery.

You will rarely see a biopic of an artist who doesn't spend a good portion of the picture miserable. That's why you'll never see a Pat Boone biopic (even though his life has some interesting textures and has a lot to say about race-relations in the U.S.) or Marcel Duchamp (one of the most influential artists, if not the MOST influential artist of the early 20th century, but tragically he lead a happy, long life), or any other artist who you can't soap-opera up the details of their personal tragedies.

Coco said...

Good point about the tragic artist biopics - I forgot there had been so many. And I agree with your general criticism as well. However, although I haven't seen it in quite awhile and only once at that, wasn't Pollock essentially about the artist as artist? Of course his personal problems (namely that he was a jerk) are on display but those are ppretty well interwoven with him as artist. I didn't think it was a very good movie but that's how I remembered it.

ALso - I'd add Basquiat as an excellent artist biopic.

Ron said...

ALso - I'd add Basquiat as an excellent artist biopic.

I loved Parker Posey as Mary Boone! Say! Maybe Parker for Ann!

alkali said...

singer: Courtney Love, dead by overdose
actor: Courtney Love, revived post-mortem

JSU said...

Rehnquist: Philip Seymour Hoffmann

Anonymous said...

Humphrey Bogard as Captain Queeg, er, I mean, President Bush (who Drudge Reports is channeling Queeg and Nixon)

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Another decent biopic: "The Buddy Holly Story", starring Gary Busey [before he got all weirded out on ComedyCentral].

Usual biopic plots: Miserable life *or* one cut unexpectedly short.

XWL said...

The point that biopics are predictable doesn't preclude the possibility that they aren't from time to time, good.

(Amadeus, American Splendor, Velvet Goldmine (technically not a biopic, but really it is), Sid & Nancy, just to name a few good ones, even with soap-opera elements)

But, in the aggregrate they feel like a total waste of time better spent actually listening to the musician, or viewing their paintings, or reading their books.

The concept that art must be some sort of faustian bargain where artistic greatness comes at the price of personal happiness or longevity is what I find personally irksome about the typical biopic story arc.

Call me radical, but I believe you can be happy, well adjusted, and a great artist all at the same time, I just find that for a variety of reasons that story doesn't get told.

(conflict, you say, must have conflict in a movie, but can't the conflict come from the artistic process and not the soap-opera crap?, the overwhelming evidence from Hollywood would suggest that this is too much to ask)

and sorry if I've hijacked this thread for my own tangent, but there seems to be a mini-discussion regarding this subset of topics going on here and the germ for these ideas were in the original post.

Jefferson said...

Starring Jane Fonda as Sandy O'Connor.

Co-starring Dennis Hopper as Stephen Breyer, Louise Lassiter as Ruth Ginsburg, Woody Allen as David Souter, and Chuck Heston as Antonin Scalia.

Congress would be played by the cast from Lords of the Dance.

vbspurs said...

Biopics are my middle name!

First, I love the casting ideas on Althouse.

But let's face it. This wouldn't be a feature film.

It's more like a TBS miniseries, with a requisite small screen budget, thus no Nick Cage, Catherine Zeta-Jones, etc. although Sean Connery is a possible.

Connery'll do anything these days (remember his cameo as King John in Robin Hood? You blinked, you missed it).

No, I think we have to think smaller.

William Rehnquist -- What's Mannix doing these days? Failing that, how about Harrison Ford? Someone who can carry off the gravitas, but still be someone SDO would want to date in college.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- Come on, Catherine Zeta-Jones?? She's way too hot for an ACLU lawyer. I see Ginsburg being played by Ruth Buzzi. There's even a similarity in the chignon.

David Souter -- Bears an uncommon resemblence to Stan Laurel, so I think William H. Macy will do. He's wet enough.

Antonin Scalia -- Bronson is dead, no?? And anyway, you need an Italian for the role. Please tell me everyone sees the similarity Nino has with Paul Sorvino, because I think it's in your face.

John Roberts -- Ray Liotta. It'll grow on you.

Ted Kennedy -- Brian Dennehy. You know it.

Diane Feinstein -- Anne Bancroft would've been a shoo-in, RIP. I'm thinking Dianne Wiest, the perpetual Best Supporting Actress.

Robert Bork -- I'd love to see Jack Nicholson in this role. "You want the truth about Roe v. Wade?? YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!".

Why it practically casts itself!


vbspurs said...

Rehnquist: Philip Seymour Hoffmann

I like it!

I just saw Capote, and if he can channel Truman Capote, he can certainly impersonate a convincing William Rehnquist.


vbspurs said...

Oh man, someone already suggested Ruth Buzzi. I thought that was a masterstroke on my part.

I was going to suggest Nipsy Russell for Clarence Thomas, but I heard he died recently.

For Sandra Day O'Connor: Tippy Hendron

Tippy Hedron! Excellent.

Or Eva Marie-Saint, if we're going all Hitchcock. :)


vbspurs said...

Madonna is the official pop star of the Althouse blog.

Early Madonna, like early any American super-star, was da bomb.

I still have my pink fingerless gloves to prove my devotion to Early Madonna.

Madonna beyond decrepit.

Althouse has a chink in its armour after today in my eyes.


Claudia Lane said...

It is going to happen: Meryl Streep as O'Connor.
More worthwhile Bio-pics: artists -Girl with the Pearl Earring (Vermeer);
Author bio-pics - Shakespeare in Love; Math/Science bio-pics - A Beautiful Mind; Warrior bio-pics - Patton; Musician bio-pics - Wagner (Richard Burton plays him); Poet bio-pics - Sylvia (Plath).
Ann can be played by Jody Foster.

JSU said...

" Oh man, someone already suggested Ruth Buzzi."

You mean Orrin Hatch? (Who plays him?)

wildaboutharrie said...

Judy Davis as Ginsberg, Glenn Close as O'Connor.

I don't care who is cast as the men, but if Donald Sutherland plays someone, I'll go. Double if Keanu plays an earnest attorney on a runaway bus.

As for musicians, if Brian Wilson dies, he could be played by Jake Gyllanhaal.

Pat Patterson said...

Neil Sedaka played by Nicholas Cage and Neil Diamond played by James Woods. One more, Elton John played by Bob Hoskins.

Ann Althouse said...

Victoria: Listen to the new album "Confessions on the Dance Floor" and watch the new video, then come back and admit you didn't know what you were talking about.

Ron said...

Victoria: I see Jack Black as Hitchcock!

Mark T said...

Scalia -- Paul Sorvino
Thomas - Danny Glover
O'Connor - Ellen Burstyn
Rehnquist - Frank Langella
Stevens - Lloyd Nolan
Souter - David Straithairn
Ginsburg - Diane Weist
Breyer - Alan Alda
Kennedy - Phillip Seymour Hoffman
Roberts - Robert Downey Jr.
Alito - Lewis Black
Reagan - Bill Murray
George W Bush - Bill Pullman
Dick Cheney - Fred Thompson

bill said...

Ann, I propose a trade. You eat an egg salad sandwich and I’ll buy and listen to the Madonna CD.


Ann Althouse said...

I think the price for the sandwich was $200 (if not $300). And I don't really care whether you listen to the CD. I just want to alert people that they don't know what they're talking about. I readily admit I don't know what an egg salad sandwich tastes like. I never claim to know, though. That's the difference.

jeff said...

Hmmm. The top three likely to die soon would be George Jones, Hank Williams Jr., and Jerry Lee Lewis - and Dennis Quaid has already demonstrated he can do a dead-on Jerry Lee Lewis.

vbspurs said...

Victoria: Listen to the new album "Confessions on the Dance Floor" and watch the new video, then come back and admit you didn't know what you were talking about.

Who said anything about her music?

Apart from the late-80s, early 90s, when she took herself too seriously, she still knows what pop music means -- like ABBA.

For that, she'll always be excellent.

But, my dear Professor Althouse, Madonna is a decrepit almost-50 something woman, pretending to be 20-something nymphette.

I don't care if her body is so taut, you could bungy jump off of it.

She's still a decrepit old Paris Hilton wannabe.

Just ask Britney Spears if she liked that snog.


vbspurs said...

Reagan - Bill Murray

Only if he gives Nancy a Gilda Radner head-rub!

P.S.: Jack Black = Hitchcock. Oh the mastery, Ron.


Pat Patterson said...

Madonna reminds me of the character Pilar in the Gary Cooper film For Whom the Bell Tolls. The character in one scene jokingly tries to kiss a young Republican soldier who draws away in embarassment. Pilar tries to laugh it off but she recognizes that she is no longer sexually attractive. I'm sure that Madonna lies awake at night having the same thoughts.

vbspurs said...

Madonna reminds me of the character Pilar in the Gary Cooper film For Whom the Bell Tolls. The character in one scene jokingly tries to kiss a young Republican soldier who draws away in embarassment. Pilar tries to laugh it off but she recognizes that she is no longer sexually attractive. I'm sure that Madonna lies awake at night having the same thoughts.


"Djoo Eengleesh!"


CCMCornell said...

I didn't read this post much when it first popped up. So, sorry for the late comment. But, after hearing the start of podcast #21, I had to add this.

Last night, I downloaded this week's Law & Order: SVU (which was nauseatingly and belatedly so Schiavo-with-a-twist) and saw Teri Garr playing the defense attorney for Dean Cain's (Lois & Clark) accused. I thought that she should play Ann if ever a movie was made involving her.

Fortunately, there's a promo picture on IMDB.

Also, while listing off suggestions for actors to play SCOTUS justices, you wondered if Abe Vigoda (for Rehnquist) was still alive. Well, your always-up-to-date answer is here.

And, there's even a Firefox plugin!

Williamethan said...
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