He’s the country’s top-rated talk radio host, beacon of conservatives, a lightning rod for controversy. Is Rush Limbaugh movie material?
Writer/producer James Sclafani thinks so, and has written a feature film about Limbaugh’s life that is in the process of being packaged and shopped for financing. Sclafani, who recently sold his script Counter Kid to Bill Murray’s Devoted Pictures, optioned The Rush Limbaugh Story: Talent on Loan from God, an unauthorized biography by longtime Gotham-based journalist Paul Colford, who currently heads media relations for the AP. The book served as the basis for the script.
Sclafani said the script he’s written is a close cousin to the Oliver Stone-directed George W. Bush feature W, in that he tries to get beneath the surface politics and controversies and down to the ambition and demons that drove Limbaugh’s success. The film will include contradictions that have gone against his radio diatribes, from the dubious 4-F draft status during Vietnam (unearthed in Colford’s book) to a get-tough stance against drug abusers that was contradicted by the revelation that he himself was addicted to prescription painkillers and got them illegally.
“This is Citizen Kane meets Private Parts, where you have a man who always had trouble relating to people in the outside world, but does it effortlessly in the booth,” said Sclafani, adding that Limbaugh is the proverbial fat kid, ignored in high school, and determined to prove everyone they were wrong about him. “There’s this anecdote about a game of spin the bottle in high school. The bottle pointed at him, and the pretty girl who was supposed to kiss him ran away, and that stayed with him,” Sclafani said. “When he came up in radio, he was culturally opposed to everything happening in the 60s and 70s, and all this left him with something to prove. He is an underdog, and became an extremely determined person with something to prove.”
Sclafani–who by the way is a registered Democrat–is producing with Renee Tab, the former ICM agent who will soon circulate the script to attract a director and financing. Sclafani and Tab are teamed on another fact-based film, Show of the Bull, with Taken director Pierre Morel attached to a drama about mob turncoat Sammy “The Bull” Gravano and his children as they led a not so quiet life in the federal witness protection program in Arizona.
Not surprisingly, Limbaugh isn’t involved. Limbaugh did not stand in the way of Colford when he wrote the book –Limbaugh’s brother, mother and ex-wives were interviewed–and Sclafani said he will approach Limbaugh “when the time is right.” ICM and Artist Talent Mgmt rep Sclafani.