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bringing van gogh to prime time

Van Gogh’s life story has everything we American viewers love:  sex, drugs, violence, mystery and intrigue.   The best part is, since it’s historic and educational, it’s guilt free viewing.  We’re talking ratings winner!

I’ve come up with several versions targeted towards different networks.  Each one tailors the basic facts of Van Gogh’s life a little differently in order to appeal to the specific network’s audience.   Please forgive the wonky spacing.   WordPress seems to be acting up.

HBO

An intelligent, well-shot bio-pic that chronicles Van Gogh’s life and death.   It will delve into his health issues, addictions, relationships with women, Theo, Gauguin and Dr. Gachet and the world in general.   It will be based on fact, well written to create a complex character who we can empathize with, sometimes like and sometimes hate.    My casting choice would be Hugh Laurie because he looks like Van Gogh only much, much hotter.    He’s also an actor capable of evoking deep, primal emotions such as love, sympathy, contempt,  laughter and a raging desire to jump his bones.

 

Showtime

This rendition of Van Gogh’s life examines the close, almost unnatural bond between  Vincent and his brother Theo.    We’ll delve into the psycho-sexual traumas they shared that drove Van Gogh and his brother Theo to acts of depravity that led to syphilis, insanity and ultimately, further acts of depravity.   While Theo was able to recover in the sense he had a wife and child and a “normal” life,  their shared demons drove them to an early grave within six months of each other.   Vincent could be played by Michael C. Hall and Theo by David Duchovny.   Not recommended for viewers under the age of 18.

NBC, ABC, The CW

We know that Van Gogh was a tortured artist.   We know he killed himself.   But we don’t know why.   Here, the mystery is revealed.   Van Gogh was a vampire.   After 30+ years of intransigence and savagely (but ambivalently)  feeding on human blood,  Vincent settles in Auvers sur-Oise where he falls in love with a mortal (Dr. Gachet’s daughter, Marguerite).   Knowing the only way to fulfill his tragic love is to bite her and doom her to an eternity of guilt and shame, he shoots himself in a field, which doesn’t kill him, because he’s a vampire.   It’s Dr. Gachet  who drives the final stake through his heart back at the Auberge Ravoux.   Casting suggestion:   Robert Pattinson, or some other young hottie with piercing eyes.

CBS — CSI Val d’Oise

It’s never a mistake to latch on to an already successful franchise.   So in the CBS version of Van Gogh’s life,  the original CSI agents travel back in time to solve the death of Vincent Van Gogh which they suspect was not by his own hand.   The prime suspect is Dr. Paul Gachet, Van Gogh’s doctor and “friend.”   The evidence includes the sketch Gachet drew of Van Gogh at his deathbed (shouldn’t he have been administering?), the fact that Gachet immediately removed all of Van Gogh’s art from his room when Vincent expired, and suspicions that the artist had an illicit affair with Marguerite, Dr. Gachet’s daughter.   Vincent’s past lovers, other artists, his brother Theo are also investigated and questioned.   In a surprise twist, the murderer is Dr. Gachet’s son, Paul, an aspiring artist and greedy, talentless little turd who is jealous of Van Gogh’s gift.

The Lifetime Network

This version is told from the point of view of Rachel, the syphlitic prostitute to whom Van Gogh gave his ear.   It takes place a few years after his death.   We open on a portrait of Rachel Van Gogh painted.   We pull back to reveal Rachel who lapses into reverie.    She relives her abusive relationship with Van Gogh, how she tried to help him, loved him and put up with his “moods.”    She recounts how finally, after years of torment and anguish, the ear incident was the final straw and she broke free.   She goes on to become a successful independent business woman.   Her reminiscences are interupted by a child toddling in to show her the painting he did which is as brightly colored and splashy as a Van Gogh.   Coincidentally,  the child has red hair.   We are left to wonder if Van Gogh’s only legacy was his art.   Casting suggestion:   Melissa Gilbert as the prostitute and David Caruso plays Van Gogh in flashbacks.

Comedy Central

A pair of wacky, absinthe quaffing, aspiring artists with very different personalities move in together in a pastoral French village and attempt an artistic revolution.   Masterpieces and hilarity ensue.   In this version, Van Gogh doesn’t really die.   They just pretend he’s dead for the insurance money.   Suggested casting:   Seth Rogen as Van Gogh and James Franco as Gauguin.   Alec Baldwin occasionally shows up as the wizened and cranky Monet.  Will Ferrell plays a side-splittingly inept Dr. Gachet.

Bravo:   The Real Artists of Auvers

Since this is Bravo, it will probably have to be shot as an extension of the Real Housewives franchise.    Slade Smiley as Van Gogh leads a cast of unknown reality stars as we  follow the day to day lives of the artists who lived in the Val d’Oise.       We follow the turbulent love/hate relationship between Gauguin and Van Gogh (similar to Vicki and Tamra, Jill and Bethany, NeNe and Kim in the real housewives series).  We’ll watch Cezanne and Pissarro passive aggressively snipe at one another leading to a scene where Cezanne uncharacteristically flips a table and shouts incoherent obscenities at Pissarro.    We’ll also get an inside look at them promoting their careers with grand Salon openings and shows (think “she by sheree”).     We’ll see them struggle with poverty and homelessness.  The only real difference between this show and the actual Real Housewives on Bravo is that in this show, the main characters actually accomplish something in their lives.

FOX entertainment

Combining the successful elements of their major hits (American Idol and The Simpsons), this will be an animated version of American Idol for painters.   Cartoon versions of Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cezanne, Pissarro, Monet, Lautrec and other artists from the commune will compete.   Each week, they’ll have to paint a different genre, but in their own inimitable style..   One week it’s a landscape, next a still life, next a studio portrait.   They may even have to dabble in other media, such as sculpting and photography to prove their diversity.   Judges will be cartoons of Rembrandt, Leonardo Da Vinci and Andy Warhol (he’s the crazy one).

Spike TV

A classic buddy movie that despite the action, is ultimately about the relationship between Van Gogh and Gauguin.   The main characters, played by Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn spend their days painting and their nights whoring and fighting.   But together they revolutionize the art world.   They’re the Butch and Sundance of Impressionism   And they’re definitely NOT gay.  Not that there’s anything wrong with it.

CBN (Christian Broadcast Network)

This adaptation focuses on Van Gogh’s early calling and career as a preacher.  Here the focus is on how when he abandoned God to become a painter, he lost the grace of the Almighty, which ultimately led to his tragic downfall.   Kirk Cameron can play Van Gogh.

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For background on the main characters click here.

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