Zooey Deschanel to Play Original '60s Groupie Pamela "I'm With the Band" Des Barres in HBO Series (NSFW)
Pamela Des Barres has been on a one-woman literary mission to change the connotations of the word "groupie" for nearly 25 years, and now, thanks to two film projects, looks like it's going to be her ultimate conquest. She wrangles an array of intriguing women who loved rockstars in the documentary, Let's Spend The Night Together: Confessions of Rock's Greatest Groupies, debuting tonight on VH1 at 8:30 (there's also a screening this evening at the Bootleg Theatre with a Q&A to follow). Getting even more buzz, is a new HBO series currently in development based on her books, which has indie movie and music goddess Zooey Deschanel set to star and co-produce.
Post-'60s puritanism hits OG groupie Pamela Des Barres: Those nipple-covering flowers are not in the original NSFW photo (see below)
The HBO show, is being written by revered cable TV scribe Jill Soloway (Six Feet Under Under, United States of Tara) and co-produced by Tim Gibbons (Curb Your Enthusiasm) along with Des Barres and her ex-husband Michael. It's being referred to as a "dramedy" series set to chronicle Ms. Des Barres' lusty misadventures, a decidedly droll take on the seminal rock n' roll era when Jimmy Page, Mick Jagger and Jim Morrison (all Pam's former paramores) were at their worship-worthy peak.
Deschanel is no stranger to of this type of fare, of course. She co-starred in Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous which borrowed heavily from Des Barres' persona for its "Penny Lane" character. The actress/She & Him singer will surely do an excellent job of capturing Miss Pamela's sweet sexiness, much better even then the long list of actresses who've been attached for nearly two decades. According to Michael, the role has been coveted over the years by Ally Sheedy (during her Brat pack "It girl" phase) Christina Applegate (post-Married with Children) and Drew Barrymore, to name a few. Alas, each became too, um, seasoned, when the project stalled.
"Every young actress in Hollywood would crawl through fire to be on this show," he says of the uber-hot roles to be the divvied out when pilot writing is complete. "The culture of many of today's starlets is inspired by this rock n' roll lineage."
Lindsay Lohan better start campaigning now, we think.
As for all the young dudes (whom Pamela says for the most part will probably be "cameos," bigger roles might even be "composites" as opposed to the actual big name), using real rock stars of today has been discussed. We asked Miss P who she'd like to see fill the big boys boots and she gave up only one: "I've always seen Rhett Miller (Old 97s) as Gram Parsons."
Nightranger thinks Living Things' singer Lillian Berlin would make a great faux "Mick" (coincidence: he's married to Floria Sigismondi, who directed The Runaways, a film we loved, but felt was mis-cast for the two leads).
It's all a bit premature at this point, but in the meantime, Vh1's giddy new documentary, Let's Spend The Night Together will satisfy retro rock fanatics and then some. We caught the film at the sold out premiere at Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax the other night which was followed by riotous Q&A and after-party with Pamela, Catherine James (Jagger's ex), Lori Mattix (Jimmy Page's former underage squeeze), Michele Overman (Robert Plant's long ago ladylove) and director Jenna Rosher, and moderator Mr. Des Barres.
In the doc, Pamela travels across the country to chat with the world's most famous groupies including all of the above as well as Cassandra Petersen (Elvira), Russ Meyers maneater Tura Satana (who taught Elvis his hip swivel), Cynthia Plaster Caster (with her amazing collection of ceramic rockstar phalluses) and the hands down wackiest (and most wanton), Connie Hamzy immortalized by Grand Funk Railroad's "We're An American Band" ("Sweet, Sweet Connie").
Miss Pamela tells us she's glad this piece is different from other VH1 films. Indeed, while redemptive, we find most of those clichéd or even exploitive. This one is neither. "Sleazy looks at this topic have been done. This one is loving," she says. "I hope people come away finally realizing that groupies are just music lovers... who take it a step further.
[Ed's note--BONUS PHOTO: The NSFW original version of the I'm With the Band cover image, sans nipple-covering flowers:]