The Further Decay of “Grey Gardens”


For a couple of older women who could barely get out of bed, Big and Little Edie Beale, of “Grey Gardens” fame, have certainly inspired a fever of energy in creative types. The latest proof? Long rumored, it’s now official: HBO Films has greenlighted “Grey Gardens,” a movie starring Drey Barrymore and Jessica Lange (both pictured here ) that’s based on the the 1975 documentary about the Beales, who were Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ eccentric cousin and aunt. It follows the relationship between the mother-daughter duo of “Big Edie” (Lange) and “Little Edie” Beale (Barrymore), who spent most of their lives in a decaying mansion on Long Island. The project was originally announced as a feature film in early 2006, though without HBO’s involvement.

Directing is Michael Sucsy, who also wrote the script with Patricia Rozema (“This Might Be Good”). It’s yet to be determined if the movie will be released theatrically before it airs on HBO.

Meanwhile, the musical version of “Grey Gardens,” which closed in July on Broadway, will open later this season in London. Tony winner Christine Ebersole will reprise her performance as Little Edie.

I was not a die-hard fan of the musical, at least not of its flashback first act. But Ebersole and Mary-Louise Wilson, as the mother, were at least roughly the same ages as the real-life Beales. Lange is 58 and Barrymore 32: both of them are a solid two decades younger than their characters in the Maysles’ documentary. More flashbacks, anyone?

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