Pre-production and casting have begun for a film about the life of uber-entertainer Liberace, reports Variety.

Ocean's Eleven director Steven Soderbergh is developing the biopic for Warner Brothers, and has drafted Michael Douglas to play the flamboyant pianist. Matt Damon is considering taking up the part of Scott Thornson, Liberace's alleged lover.

Liberace vehemently denied being gay and successfully sued The Daily Mirror and Confidential in 1957 for implying he was gay. Writing in the UK-based Mirror Cassandra (AKA William Connor) gave credibility to gay rumors by saying Liberace was “The summit of sex – the pinnacle of masculine, feminine, and neuter. Everything that he, she, and it can ever want ... a deadly, winking, sniggering, snuggling, chromium-plated, scent-impregnated, luminous, quivering, giggling, fruit-flavoured, mincing, ice-covered heap of mother love.” And tabloid magazine Confidential ran numerous articles implying he was gay, including the 1957 headline, “Why Liberace's Theme Song Should Be 'Mad About The Boy!'”

The personal life of Liberace – especially his true sexuality – remains mysterious to this day. Born in Wisconsin, he started playing the piano at the age of four. In the early 1940s he performed his musical act of classical whimsy to New York audiences to some success, but hit the jackpot in Las Vegas where he earned millions with his lavish – some would say campy – musical productions.

In 1982, Scott Thorson sued the pianist for $113 million in palimony – claiming the pair shared a home for five years. The court dismissed his claim, but he did receive a $95,000 settlement.

Liberace died at the age of sixty-seven in 1987 from AIDS-related complications. His noticeable rapid weight loss was attributed to a “watermelon diet” by his longtime manager.

Variety reports the film is in the very early stages of development.

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