Martin Scorsese to direct biopic of Frank Sinatra

Sunday, May 17, 2009
In this 1990 file photo, Frank Sinatra sings at New York's Radio City Music Hall. (AP Photo/Mario Suriani, file)

LOS ANGELES -- Martin Scorsese will tell Frank Sinatra's life story on film.

The Academy Award-winning director of "The Departed" will direct "Sinatra," the first feature film about Ol' Blue Eyes' life, Universal Pictures and Mandalay Pictures said last week.

The film will be "an unconventional biopic," said Mandalay Pictures president Cathy Shulman, who is co-producing the film with Mandalay chairman Peter Guber.

"It's not a cradle-to-the-grave traditional portrait of the consecutive events in a man's life," Shulman said. "Instead it's more of a collage and, in many ways, it will feel like an album itself. It's a collection of various moments and impressions in his life and together we hope they'll tell the full story and present full themes."

Oscar-nominated screenwriter Phil Alden Robinson ("Field of Dreams") has spent "at least a year buried in 30,000 pages of research" to write the screenplay, Schulman said.

No casting decisions have been made and no production date has been determined, she said, adding: "It's everyone's hope that this will be a movie that comes to the screen shortly."

It took two years to secure the rights to Sinatra's life and music, Shulman said. Warner Music Group and the Sinatra estate are partners on the project.

Having Scorsese bring "Sinatra" to the screen "seems like a match made in heaven," she said.

"In any family, you're dealing with a precious life, and in this case, you're dealing with an extraordinary life," she said. "We knew Scorsese would lead the troops to a true, fair, exciting and entertaining portrait of the man."

Sinatra's daughter, Tina, said it was "personally pleasing" to know Scorsese would oversee the celluloid version of her father's life story.

"My father had great admiration for the talent of the people he chose to work with, and the talented people who worked with my father had great admiration for him," she said, adding, "to me that this paradigm continues with Marty Scorsese at the helm of the Sinatra film."

An iconic entertainer, Sinatra was known for his smooth voice and even smoother personal style. He was part of the Rat Pack that included Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford.

Sinatra "was indisputably the 20th century's greatest singer of popular song," according to Rolling Stone.

"Not only did his freely interpretive approach pave the way for the idiosyncrasies of rock singing, but with his character a mix of tough-guy cool and romantic vulnerability, he became the first true pop idol, a superstar who through his music established a persona audiences found compelling and true," the magazine says on its website.

Sinatra, who died in 1998, performed on more than 1,400 musical recordings, was awarded 31 gold records and earned 10 Grammys. He also appeared in 58 films and won a supporting-actor Oscar for 1953's "From Here to Eternity." In 1971, he was presented with another Oscar: the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

Sinatra's story has been told before on the small screen. A 1992 made-for-TV movie, "Sinatra," starred Philip Casnoff in the title role. It won a Golden Globe for best miniseries and an Emmy for director James Sadwith. Ray Liotta played Sinatra in the 1998 HBO film, "The Rat Pack."

At one time, Scorsese was in talks to direct a Dean Martin biopic, but that project never came to fruition.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: