Hollywood's tribute to Dean Reed
Tom Hanks has unveiled plans for what he called "a moving and sophisticated" film about Dean Reed, the American folk-rock singer who became a major star in Communist East Germany during the Cold War.
Hanks was in Berlin to promote the German release of "Terminal", which has received mixed reviews and lacklustre box office in the U.S. and Canada.
Asked about the Reed project, which Hanks has been working on for several years, the 48-year-old star confirmed he had bought rights to the late Denver-born singer's life from his family earlier this summer.
"But this will be no black-and-white story of the virtuous West and the evil Empire of Communism," Hanks told reporters.
Virtually unknown in his native United States, Reed defected via South America to Eastern Europe in the 1960s where he became one of the East Bloc's biggest celebrities.
Reed parlayed his wholesome good looks and a sweet singing voice into a series of hit records and starring roles in East Bloc movies, generally Westerns filmed in the rugged hills of former Yugoslavia.
He was known as the "Johnny Cash of Communism" and "Red Square Elvis".
Reed's sudden and tragic death just before the fall of Communism was one of the great mysteries of the Cold War.
Recently release documents indicate he took his own life in 1986 due to chronic depression, dispelling widespread speculation that he had become disillusioned with Communism and that the East German Stasi killed him to prevent him returning to America.
Hanks said he has received the go-ahead from Dreamworks Studios to produce and star in the film version of Reed's life. But he said he has no date for start of actual shooting.