‘Be­hind the Can­de­labra’:

9 p.m. Sun­day, HBO

The Daily Herald - TV Week - - FRONT PAGE -

Tele­vi­sion movies rarely gen­er­ate the sort of buzz that HBO’s “Be­hind the Can­de­labra” has, but how of­ten do TV movies, even on pre­mium ca­ble, fea­ture Michael Dou­glas and Matt Da­mon as lovers?

The film re­volves around the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Lib­er­ace and Scott Thor­son, who was his part­ner for years.

This takes Lib­er­ace and Scott from their 1977 meet­ing, when Lib­er­ace was a Vegas head­liner and Scott a naive kid, through their five-year re­la­tion­ship, pub­lic breakup and even­tu­ally Lib­er­ace’s death from AIDS in 1987.

In the be­gin­ning, Scott is 17, which Da­mon ac­knowl­edges is a stretch.

“Seventeen’s way out of my range,” Da­mon says, shak­ing his head and laugh­ing. “And I said that to Steven (Soder­bergh, the di­rec­tor). ‘This is ridicu­lous!’ I am 42. I look younger than I am, but I don’t look that much younger. I prob­a­bly look 30 more than 20. It is more about an older guy who loves a younger guy.”

Lib­er­ace had a pen­chant for younger men. Much has been made about the sex scenes, and Dou­glas and Da­mon, in sep­a­rate in­ter­views, laugh about it. Still, what were those steamy scenes like? “There’s anx­i­ety be­cause you don’t want to screw it up,” Da­mon says. “And it is a place where ev­ery­one is go­ing to be look­ing care­fully. To me it’s much less about the kissing and more about how you are with some­one in your most in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ship. There’s a phys­i­cal com­fort level when you are in the room with your hus­band or wife. There are no se­crets.”

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