Justin Timberlake was on colorful display Wednesday in Cannes at the Foresight Unlimited party for “Spinning Gold,” a biopic about the late music mogul Neil Bogart, which the singing-acting and now producing star is tubthumping on the Croisette.
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Addressing the packed room from the stage at the Carlton Beach soiree, Timberlake, joined by Bogart’s son, writer-producer Tim Bogart, and Foresight chief Mark Damon, took the aud on a romp through the hits of the late Casablanca Records honcho that he’ll be portraying.
“I could have been a Pip!” joked Timberlake as he grooved to the music of Gladys Knight, along with the sounds of another soul legend, Bill Withers, and hits from “Queen of Disc Donna Summer, The Village People and rock gods Kiss, all part of the Bogart 70s hits machine.
“Spinning Gold” is slated for production in 2014 and Timberlake and associates met international distributors at a private lunch earlier in the day. “Not surprisingly,” said Bogart, “Justin really connected with the distributors and we made several deals,” though details weren’t available at press time.
Damon told Variety “the film is fully financed. Envision is committed to the entire budget, along with foreign sales tax credits funds, so the presales we make will go against what is already committed.”
Offstage, Timberlake took a slightly more serious turn in an exclusive interview with Variety, addressing the demands of his newest career move. “I wouldn’t be taking on the film producer role if this weren’t part of what I see as my complete commitment to telling the Neil Bogart story” said Timberlake.
Elaborating on his enthusiasm for the project, as well as his practical reasons for taking on the extra duties at a time when he is launching a major music tour and recording an album, Timberlake noted, “I’ve been in films where the actors and the director are completely in synch and some where the connections aren’t as strong and I know which situation is best for the film. Everyone needs to be in the film together, so being a producer is simply a way to further insure that this kind of communication and participation is in place.”
Discussing what drew him to the project, Timberlake explained his affinity for the Bogart character. “The minute that Tim (Bogart) told me the story of his father, I knew I had to play this role because Neil reminds me so much of myself. I’ve been told ‘No’ at just about every turn in my career and I’ve never let it stop me. That determination to chart his own path against all advice and all odds is something I completely relate to.”
With films like “Social Network” and “Trouble With the Curve” under his belt, as well as hit comedies “Bad Teacher” and “Friends With Benefits” and celebrated turns hosting TV’s “Saturday Night Live,” Timberlake appears eager to combine the light and dark elements in the Bogart tale. He sketched out his approach to the role by noting, “You hear a lot of actors talk about ‘becoming the character,’ but in this role I really feel the right approach is bringing myself to the character. I just have so much in common with Neil and feel that I have so much of me that IS Neil.”
As the disco era hits blared behind him, Timberlake didn’t hesitate a beat when asked how he would have fared in the ‘70s Sunset Strip era of off-the-charts excesses of drugs, sex and pop music that will be chronicled in “Spinning Gold.” Said Timberlake emphatically, with a knowing smile, “I would have been in the eye of the storm.”