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October 24, 2014

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Matt Damon looking forward to playing Liberace’s lover in upcoming biopic

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Erik Kabik/Retna/www.erikkabikphoto.com

Matt Damon at Ante Up for Africa at The Rio on July 2, 2010.

In Photos: 2010 Ante Up for Africa

Ante Up for Africa at The Rio on July 2, 2010. Launch slideshow »

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  • Liberace Museum: State of the Union
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When you need a powerhouse actor to portray the longtime gay lover of a legendary pianist and jewel-dripping costume model, who would you summon?

How about Matt Damon?

Damon has taken on a role with tantalizing potential, that of Liberace's former chauffer and romantic companion Scott Thorson in the upcoming biographical film about the famed artist's life and career.

Saturday afternoon at the Rio, Damon spoke in some detail about this film during a red-carpet shuffle prior to the celebrity "Ante Up for Africa" charity poker tournament to aid relief efforts in Darfur.

"Yeah, it's going to happen. We're going to do it next summer," Damon said as he slowed apace on his way to the poker table. "Stephen Soderberg is directing it. Michael Douglas is going to play Lee."

Lee? Damon is already embracing the manner in which those close to Liberace referred to the great entertainer. People who knew him always addressed him, "Lee." That includes Thorson, who blew apart Liberace's image as a merely flamboyant showman by suing the entertainer for $113 million in a 1982 palimony suit (four years later he shrewdly accepted $95,000, two cars and a pair of dogs as a settlement).

The characterization of Thorson should be one of the more ambitious roles in Damon's career. And the man who has portrayed Will Hunting, Jason Bourne and Linus Caldwell is jacking up expectations even a year before filming commences.

"It's a terrific script," Damon continued. "Richard LaGravenese has written a really great script and, you know, hopefully it will be a really great movie. I don't see why it wouldn't be."

Well, you could put Criss Angel in it. That'd be one reason.

Jerry Weintraub reportedly is producing the film, which is being shot to accommodate the family requirements of Douglas and Damon (he and his wife, Luciana, are expecting their third child in late November or early December). Damon said much of the film would be shot in L.A., particularly Liberace's stage show, though I would expect Liberace's old showrooms at the LV Hilton and Riviera would be at least considered for location shoots.

Out of pure necessity, some of the filming would need to take place in Las Vegas.

"We'd be here, I assume, because there's a whole portion of the movie that takes place (in Las Vegas). Stuff at his house would probably be shot here."

The Warner Bros. project would be a great and long-overdue boost to the Liberace Museum and Foundation, which for years has been struggling to re-introduce Liberace's singularly compelling life story to younger generations. The mind-blowing attraction is looking for a new home, moving from its East Tropicana location, where it has stood stoically and statically since 1979.

A move to a more populous location closer to the Strip is in the offing, and a film adaptation starring Douglas and Damon should allow officials to start anew efforts to market the Liberace brand.

Damon says he's not seen the museum, ever.

"I want to," he said. "I want to check it out."

Somehow I feel that can be arranged.

Click to enlarge photo

Brad Garrett at Ante Up for Africa at The Rio on July 2, 2010.

Garrett bristles at 'Badd Garrett'

In the undertow of the towering wave caused by Brad Garrett's club opening at Tropicana — and I don't know if I've ever seen a comic create quite this type of stir while setting up shop in Las Vegas — is an issue of a Twitter account managed by one "Badd Garrett."

I learned of this account several weeks ago, when I first wrote of Garrett's interest in moving into the Trop. I was corrected by "Badd" when an unedited version of my column hit the website with "Brad Gilbert" as Garrett's name. Yes, that is wrong, as Brad Gilbert is better known as Andre Agassi's former tennis coach and a tennis commentator on Wimbledon broadcasts.

Gilbert is at times funny, but he's no Brad Garrett. So I fixed that, but it wasn't the last we've heard from this "Badd Garrett" person.

I initially thought the individual managing the Badd Garrett account was Garrett himself. Not so, as I was corrected. I was told this was a "parody," account, and it seemed harmless enough, similar to how Wayniacs or Fanilows would create accounts to update fans with news about their favorite entertainers.

But Garrett is not amused — he's mentioned this to me, and also summoned my colleague Ubiquitous Robin Leach — and is taking legal action against the person using that handle.

Garrett has said the person operating the account is "sick," accusing the individual of stalking him all the way to the opening set of shows at his Brad Garrett Comedy Club.

Garrett has said the person has contacted media members and ticket brokers pretending to be the real Brad Garrett, and on Thursday the comedian initiated legal action (retaining an attorney in Beverly Hills and contacting a private investigator, for starters) to try to find the identity of this person. This could all end up in a defamation lawsuit, against the person and even against Twitter.

Garrett says he's unnerved by a person he considers a stalker, and this is among the many reasons he "hates" the Internet and doesn't manage any Twitter or Facebook accounts.

For a man who has opened his own club on the Strip to great response, it's a sad and unfunny turn of events.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats.

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