There had been some talk that the Coen brothers’ next project would be a sword-and-sandals film set an ancient Rome, but now momentum is building around their other potential follow-up to last year’s Inside Llewyn Davis. This other film, called Hail Caesar, already has George Clooney attached to star, and according to Deadline, it’s also got the backing of Universal Pictures, who’ve signed on to distribute it around the world. Deadline reports that another Coens alumnus is joining Clooney in the cast as well: Josh Brolin, whose performance as gruff veteran Llewelyn Moss in the Coens’ No Country For Old Men became his breakout role as a leading man.
The Coens have previously said Hail Caesar would be “about the movie business and life and religion and faith.” Now there’s an expanded synopsis:
“The comical yarn centers on a man named Eddie Mannix who sounds a lot like the Fred Otash of his day—the famed 1950s private investigator who worked for Confidential magazine and was the muckraker of the time using wiretaps to spy on movie stars and gather dirt. Otash was a former lifeguard who became a cop, lost his job as a cop and became a private eye who wiretapped. The project is being put together now. It’s not clear if the Eddie Mannix in the script is based on the man of the same who was a MGM VP, for those of you wondering. The real Mannix was VP and general manager under Louis B. Mayer and Dore Schary. It was Mannix’s wife who actor George Reeves had the affair with. Reeves was later found with a gunshot wound to the head and it was ruled a suicide by the L.A. County coroner’s office but questions have always persisted about the death.”
The Reeves story became a movie before, in the 2006 drama Hollywoodland (where the late Bob Hoskins played Mannix). There are surely more details to Hail Caesar than this synopsis provides (like why the Coens’ have named their private investigator after a famous figure in Hollywood history), but I hear Hollywood and Confidential and the 1950s and the Coens and I think spiritual sequel to Barton Fink. And when I think that, I get very excited.