It's Barry Manilow: The Movie!

Produced by Tom Hanks & MIchael Stipe?!?

Are you ready for Barry Manilow: The Movie?

Let’s rephrase: is anybody ready for Barry Manilow: The Movie? Well, states of readiness are irrelevant at this point, for it’s happening. It’s actually happening.

Single Cell, the production company co-owned by R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe, and Playtone, Tom Hanks’ company, have announced a deal to make a movie which will not only showcase the back catalogue of the MORiest man in music, but will feature the man himself in a cameo.

It seems demented, but the 66 year-old Manilow is still a huge artist, who’s produced plenty of silent-S hits – songs like Can’t Smile Without You (used so brilliantly by Guillermo del Toro in Hellboy II), Could It Be Magic, I Write The Songs and Fuck Tha Police. His nose for a tune has led to millions of units sold, and he’s been selling out at the Las Vegas Hilton since 2005.

So it’s clear that Universal is hoping that they have another Mamma Mia! on their hands. Not that the movie – which is currently untitled, but should be called Manilow! – will follow the format of the Abba money-maker. Instead, it will be a romantic comedy closer in spirit and tone to, gulp, Love Actually, in that it will follow a diverse group of Manilow fans who arrive in Las Vegas to hear their idol headline at the Mandalay Bay hotel. Along the way, they meet, fall in and out of love etc. while the songs of Manilow, who will also cameo, propel the soundtrack.

We’re still astonished by the producing presence of Hanks, who will oversee with Gary Goetzman, and, even more incredibly, Stipe. After all, Manilow doesn’t seem to have had a great influence on R.E.M.’s music (although Airportman, from Up, shares the same giddy joie de vivre of Copacabana (At The Copa)).

However, it’s Stipe’s producing partner, Sandy Stern, who actually came up with the idea and lured Manilow on board, thus absolving Stipey of direct responsibility. And hey, we wish them all well – for this goofy rom-com, featuring everything including the kitsch-en sink, sounds like it could be hugely entertaining… especially if we turn our irony chips up to 11.