He will star as American Dean Reed, the famed Eastern bloc entertainer who died mysteriously

By Stephen M. Silverman
July 09, 2004 09:10 AM
Paul Smith/Featureflash/Retna

Next up for Tom Hanks: a biopic based on the life of Dean Reed, an American singer, actor and filmmaker who came to be known as the “Red Elvis” before his 15-year career in East Germany came to an abrupt end in 1986 with his mysterious death.

Hanks, who has been interested in the real-life tale for three years, visited Reed’s widow, Renate Blume, in Berlin last year, reports Variety. Last week, she and her son gave the double-Oscar winner (Forrest Gump, Philadelphia) their permission to make the movie, which will be released by DreamWorks.

On his trip, Hanks, 48, also reportedly met with Egon Krenz, East Germany’s last head of state before the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

According to the trade paper, Reed developed a following in South America in the 1960s before being deported from Argentina for his political views. He went to communist East Germany in 1971 for a documentary film festival and decided to stay.

A constant on the Eastern bloc concert circuit, Reed eventually was found dead in a lake outside Berlin. The details of his death were never made clear.

Meanwhile, Hanks’s The Terminal collaborator, director Steven Spielberg, 57, is now poised to start production on what is said to be his most important movie since Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List, about the aftermath of the 1972 Munich Olympics, where Israeli athletes were massacred by Palestinian terrorists.

The Wall Street Journal, in its Friday editions, reports that the project, to star Eric Bana (Troy, The Hulk), is veiled in secrecy, with few details of its elements being revealed.

The financial paper also notes that The Terminal has made less than $60 million in its three weeks of release, not enough to cover its costs and Spielberg’s most disappointing box-office showing since his 1997 Armistad.