Casting Call: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley

Published March 27, 2014

In which we suggest who should star in the next big adaptation, remake, or historical film.

Warner Bros. Pictures is adapting Jeffrey Spivak’s biography Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley, with Ryan Gosling and Marc Platt signed on to produce. Platt, who gave us films such as Legally Blonde and Wanted, is familiar with the musical genre; he is currently producing a movie adaptation of the Broadway musical Wicked, as well as a Disney film of Broadway’s Into the Woods. This biopic marks the third collaboration between Platt and Gosling; they worked together in 2011 to create Drive and their more recent undertaking, How To Catch a Monster, premieres later this year.

If you’re unfamiliar with the name Busby Berkeley, here is a brief bio: a self-appointed “dance director” (he refused to call himself a “choreographer”), Berkeley saved the musical genre from becoming obsolete in the 1930s. Busby, or “Buzz” as they called him, is revered for offering a form of solace to the Americans facing the harsh reality of the Great Depression. Some of his most renowned films (that he either “choreographed” or directed) include:
42nd Street, Gold Diggers of 1993, For Me and My Gal, Take Me Out to the Ball Game, and Romance on the High Seas. But Spivak’s book doesn’t revolve solely around Berkeley’s career and artistic vision; it also delves into the struggles of his personal life, which involved a fondness for both women and liquor, and culminates in a car accident in which two people died.

Berkeley flourished as a dance-director during the golden age of Hollywood and he worked with major film production studios such as Warner Bros., MGM, and 20
th Century Fox. You can imagine the fun we had, rummaging through the old Hollywood archive, casting modern-day equivalents to play some of film’s most illustrious actors. We hope we do them justice. 

Casting Call runs every Friday. For more, click here.