It could have been Renée, it could have been Zooey, but now Amy Adams looks set to play Janis Joplin. Priya Elan hopes it doesn’t Jormp the shark.
In Hollywood, the Janis Joplin story is a cinematic mirage. Like On The Road, Atlas Shrugged, and the remake of Barbarella, it’s been a cornerstone of “Development Hell”, chewed over so much that many wondered if it actually existed. There was the unauthorised Piece Of My Heart, which was to star Renée Zellweger or Brittany Murphy. There was The Gospel According To Janis which Penelope Spheeris was down to direct with Zooey Deschanel or P!nk. Thirdly there was an untitled flick, thought to be an adaptation of Laura Joplin’s off-Broadway play about her sister (Laura Theodore, the show’s star, was attached).
So it came as some surprise when Amy Adams was announced as starring in a new Joplin project. Directed by Fernando (City Of God) Meirelles, Janis Joplin: Get It While You Can is slated for a 2012 release. Producer Peter Newman, attached to two of the previous projects, told Rolling Stone he’d “spent over seven figures” getting the rights but stressed he was interested in making something “respectful”. Still, one has to wonder if the winsome Adams is the ideal Janis.
30 Rock hit the nail on the head with its running gag, Jenna Maroney’s film Sing Them White Blues, Girl: The Jackie Jormp-Jomp Story, an unreleasable, unofficial attempt to squeeze the complexities of Joplin’s life into 90 minutes. Because it’s happened before – in 1979 with Bette Midler vehicle The Rose. Originally titled Pearl (Joplin’s nickname, the title of her last album), it was renamed due to her family not wanting to give up the rights to her story. You can see why they had their reservations. Despite Midler’s Oscar-nominated performance, it’s full of rock film cliches: pushy manager; bumbling handling of her bisexuality and drug use; and clunky dialogue. In one exchange, The Rose asks her manager: “Pass the peanuts, would you baby?”
“Man, you know everything.”
Big Jackie Jormp-Jomp moment.
The truth was more complex; while Joplin did create the larger-than-life Pearl persona, there was more to her than that. Dave Getz, drummer of her band Big Brother And The Holding Company told Mojo: “People want to believe she was this wild, drug-addicted alcoholic who fucked everyone and was high all the time.”
The myth built during her life. A Rolling Stone story from 1969 was headlined Janis Joplin: The Judy Garland Of Rock? while her drugs death made her part of a trio of casualties (with Jim Morrison and Hendrix) who symbolised the failed hippy dream. In reality she was still very much the insecure girl nicknamed Pizza Face at school for her acne. Can Hollywood handle her very un-Hollywood tale? Or will it go the way of Jackie Jormp-Jomp’s hilariously cack-handed retelling? “Did Jackie Jormp-Jomp give up when those vampires attacked Woodstocks?” Jenna Maroney asks at one point. Let’s hope it’s the former.