EXCLUSIVE: Cher just tweeted out that on the eve of celebrating her 75th birthday Thursday, she’ll have her life story unfold on movie screens through Universal Pictures. It is a major effort with heavy hitters, and here’s what is happening.
The as yet untitled film will be scripted by Oscar-winning screenwriter Eric Roth, whose recent efforts include adapting Killers of the Flower Moon that is currently in production with Martin Scorsese directing Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, and co-writing the upcoming Denis Villenueve-directed Dune epic. The Cher film will be produced by Judy Craymer — whose brainstorm it was to turn the ABBA song catalog into the stage musical smash Mamma Mia! — and Playtone’s Gary Goetzman, who produced the Mamma Mia! films with Craymer. That duo will produce with Cher, who starred in the Mamma Mia! sequel. Cher just produced Kaavan, The World’s Loneliest Elephant, which is streaming on Paramount.com and The Smithsonian Channel.
Roth, who scripted the Cher-starrer Suspect years ago, won his Oscar for Forrest Gump. His ability to find a handle for a tale that spanned decades will be useful here, because the story of Cher spans just about as much time. She evolved from being a shy duo partner to a pioneer for female entertainers in song, fashion and celebrity, unafraid to speak her mind and champion worthy causes. Her professional rise began when she moved to Los Angeles at 16 and befriended Sonny Bono while he was working for record producer Phil Spector in the early ’60s. She soon was singing backup on hits including “Be My Baby” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin.” Her feelings for Bono soon turned amorous, and they married and began working together.
Cher could have gone solo from the start but a touch of stage fright was alleviated at the beginning by having Sonny up there singing with her. “I Got You Babe” made them massive stars in the ’60s, and by the early ’70s they became CBS primetime stars on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, and her penchant for wearing daring outfits started her rise as a fashion icon. They divorced in 1975, and she flourished solo with hits including “Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves” and “Half-Breed.” By the 1980s Cher redefined herself again as a dramatic actress, starring in films including Silkwood, Mask and The Witches of Eastwick, culminating in a Best Actress Oscar win for Moonstruck in 1987. She has followed that with more hits, including “I Found Someone,” “If I Could Turn Back Time” and “Believe.” She has sold more than 100 million records in her career, and been a longtime advocate for LGBTQ rights and HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention, among other causes.
Cher got to know Craymer and Goetzman making 2018’s Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, and Craymer said it was an easy match to team up. Years ago, Craymer aligned the Mamma Mia! stage show rights with Universal’s Donna Langley and Goetzman, and it became one of Universal’s biggest global hits. This was an easy landing place. They are keeping exact details of the film to themselves, but it will not be a break-into-song musical like Mamma Mia! and probably more likely a closer cousin to a biopic like Bohemian Rhapsody. Universal VP Production Lexi Barta will oversee for the studio.
“Gary and I are thrilled to be working with Cher again and this time bringing her empowering and true life odyssey to the big screen. One cannot help but be drawn to and inspired by Cher’s larger than life talent, fortitude, unique wit, warmth and vision,” Craymer said. “Her unparalleled success in music film and TV have inspired generations. We could not be happier to tell her story to cinema audiences.”
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