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Winkler mining Cole

Pic to focus on how a gay man found his inspiration

Kevin Kline is set to play composer and songwriter Cole Porter in “De-Lovely,” a biopic to be directed by Irwin Winkler. United Artists is financing and holds worldwide rights to the film, which begins shooting May 5 in London.

Kline and Winkler last teamed on “Life as a House.”

“De-Lovely” will focus on how a gay man found his musical inspiration from the woman he married. Jay Cocks (“Gangs of New York”) wrote the script, and the film will feature interludes from 30 songs from Porter’s most famous musicals, including “Anything Goes” and “Kiss Me Kate.”

UA president Bingham Ray greenlit the film.

“The success of ‘Chicago’ makes it a nice time to do a film with musical moments, and this has fantasy sequences like in ‘All That Jazz,’ ” said Winkler Films head Rob Cowan, who is producing with Charles Winkler and Simon Channing-Williams (“Nicholas Nickleby”). “The songs help to tell his story, and there will be a whole bunch of singers coming in to do musical cameos.”

Cowan said that Winkler has long wanted to give movie treatment to a musical subject. They worked on a story about the Gershwin brothers with director Martin Scorsese, and then Cocks penned a project about the complicated relationship between band leader Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, who maintained a low profile but wrote most of Ellington’s biggest hits. Neither project came together. They found in Porter a story that is more than just the tale of a kid from Indiana who becomes a household name.

“Even though he wrote such great love songs, Cole Porter was a man who searched his whole life trying to find out what love really was,” Cowan said. “He was gay but married many years to his wife, the socialite Linda Lee Porter. They had an odd arrangement, but his career started when they got married, and it ended soon after she died. Whether she was his muse or inspiration, he realized his love was for this woman who inspired his love songs, even though they didn’t have a sexual relationship. It’s a complex love story with no traditional resolve.”

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