George Clooney has found his next directing gig.
The acclaimed actor/director/producer is in talks to direct and produce a film adaptation of author J.R. Moehringer’s coming-of-age memoir The Tender Bar for Amazon Studios, which would mark his first directing collaboration with that company. Get the details about the story below.
Deadline reports that Clooney is in negotiations to direct The Tender Bar, which has a script written by The Departed‘s William Monahan. This project is set up at Amazon Studios, marking the third major streaming service Clooney would be working with: he’s previously acted in Netflix’s A Very Murray Christmas and acted, produced, and directed episodes of Hulu’s Catch-22. Looks like Clooney might be laying out a streaming service bingo card.
Here’s the synopsis of Moehringer’s book:
J.R. Moehringer grew up captivated by a voice. It was the voice of his father, a New York City disc jockey who vanished before J.R. spoke his first word. Sitting on the stoop, pressing an ear to the radio, J.R. would strain to hear in that plummy baritone the secrets of masculinity and identity. Though J.R.’s mother was his world, his rock, he craved something more, something faintly and hauntingly audible only in The Voice.
At eight years old, suddenly unable to find The Voice on the radio, J.R. turned in desperation to the bar on the corner, where he found a rousing chorus of new voices. The alphas along the bar–including J.R.’s Uncle Charlie, a Humphrey Bogart look-alike; Colt, a Yogi Bear sound-alike; and Joey D, a softhearted brawler–took J.R. to the beach, to ballgames, and ultimately into their circle. They taught J.R., tended him, and provided a kind of fathering-by-committee. Torn between the stirring example of his mother and the lurid romance of the bar, J.R. tried to forge a self somewhere in the center. But when it was time for J.R. to leave home, the bar became an increasingly seductive sanctuary, a place to return and regroup during his picaresque journeys. Time and again the bar offered shelter from failure, rejection, heartbreak–and eventually from reality.
In the grand tradition of landmark memoirs, The Tender Bar is suspenseful, wrenching, and achingly funny. A classic American story of self-invention and escape, of the fierce love between a single mother and an only son, it’s also a moving portrait of one boy’s struggle to become a man, and an unforgettable depiction of how men remain, at heart, lost boys.
Clooney could end up starring in the movie as well, potentially playing the missing father or one of the guys at the bar.
As a director, I’ve found Clooney’s work to be pretty hit or miss. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Good Night and Good Luck, and The Ides of March are all solid in my eyes, but Leatherheads, The Monuments Men, and Suburbicon were underwhelming. Next up, he’s directing a film called The Midnight Sky for Netflix, so here’s hoping that one kicks off a new hot streak for him behind the camera.
This project was originally going to be directed by Ted Melfi, the filmmaker behind Hidden Figures, over at Sony, but when that never materialized and the project went into turnaround, Amazon scooped it up. If this deal goes through, Clooney will produce The Tender Bar alongside his longtime producing partner Grant Heslov, as well as Ted Hope, the co-head of movies at Amazon Studios.
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