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Sean Penn Playing Famous Story Editor Max Perkins in 'Genius'

by
August 4, 2010

Max Perkins / Sean Penn

In his preparation to return to acting after a self-imposed sabbatical, Sean Penn has been lining up a fair share of upcoming roles. We recently heard he was going to hit some waves for a biopic about iconic surfer Dorian "Doc" Paskowitz. But now he's moving into completely different territory as THR reports the praised yet publicly abrasive actor will star in a film called Genius, telling the story of literary editor Max Perkins who worked with legendary authors like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe. River Road Ent. producer/financier Bill Pohlad will finally direct the drama after many others have tried before.

Pohlad hasn't directed a feature since 1990 (something called Old Explorers), so this seems like a risk, but he's been in the business as a producer (he's worked on films like Brokeback Mountain and Into the Wild) long enough to know what's going on, even if his vision hasn't exactly been prominent on-screen. Previously, directors like Michael London and Lawrence Kasdan have been attached through various incarnations, but it never got off the ground. This has more sure footing because Penn and Pohlad have a history not only with Into the Wild, but other recent soon-to-be-released films starring Penn like Fair Game and The Tree of Life.

The story comes from A. Scott Berg's biography Max Perkins: Editor of Genius, which chronicles the life and work of the eccentric editor as he found him at the Scribner publishing house in New York overseeing some of literature's most famous works from the best of the best authors (Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Vonnegut, etc). The bulk of the story will deal with Perkins relationship with a younger Thomas Wolfe, with lots of cameos from other known literary types. It doesn't sound like the most thrilling of stories, but if directors have been trying to get it off the ground for awhile, there's got to be something worthwhile in the story. Sound good?

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  • dex
    sounds extremely BORRINGG..
  • Al
    Sean Penn's boat ride adventure through New Orleans is reason enough to hate the man. He hired a publicist, photographers, and journalists to join him on his Katrina "rescue" mission. Needless to say, he couldn't fit anyone from New Orleans that needed help into his boat, because all the people writing about how heroic Penn's actions were, were taking up all the room. The boat sank. No one was actually helped during all of this, it was just Penn wanting to make himself look like a hero. Compare that to how Steve Buscemi volunteered to be a fire fighter after 9/11 and refused to have his picture taken or a story written about him. We know who the real hero is. Oh yeah, and the oscar speech for Milk? Its like Sean Penn really thought he was Harvey Milk. How smug.
  • Eli
    I agree Al. I'm so tired of biopics. Stop already. If I want to know the 'true' story about someone I'll read about him or her. It's not a boring subject about a boring guy, it's just that anyone who would ever care is already aware of him and his actions. Penn is... was a good actor. The guy is a bit of a fluke nowadays. Didn't know about Steve Buscemi though. What I would like to see though is more fictional characters brought to life that could have existed way back when. Now that'd be interesting because you could do one of two things: make it so that his works or accomplishments never got to see the light of day with subtle hints about other well knowns, or make it so that his or her work was hailed as something great, but he used it for secret projects or something. I dunno, that's just me.
  • http://movies.iconocritic.com peloquin
    Into the Wild is still one of the best films ever made so I'll always respect Penn for that. His choice of roles have been pretty lame lately though. I thought he was against publicity like Bill Murray in that he doesn't have an agent, publicist, manager, etc and he lives off the grid which is why he does so few projects; especially studio driven projects... I'd like to see your source on that claim Al if you don't mind. I'd love to read more about the situation.
  • Al
    I love when people pretend there is no google. http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/penns-rescue-attempt-springs-a-leak/2005/09/05/1125772436185.html Thats just one of many, many, articles.

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