Get ready for hissy fits as Elton plans TV satire on stars behaving badly

Old rockers want a little respect nowadays. They yearn to be inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame. Some even think they can help sell presidential candidates. (Nice work, Bruce Springsteen.)

How unwelcome then that a new sitcom is in the works that will shine a spotlight on their over-sized egos and look at the wackier side of their lifestyles - the trophy girlfriends, the desperate diets and the comb-overs. And the brains behind the idea? It's none other than a man who was one of the wildest of them all - Sir Elton John.

It all came spilling out in yesterday's edition of Daily Variety, the Hollywood trade paper. There it was in black and white: Sir Elton has done a deal with ABC to develop a new television sitcom precisely about the glamorous lives of his iconic rock'n'roll buddies and the people who flutter around them.

You might think Sir Elton himself would be sufficient as the model for such a show. After all, it is only a few weeks ago that he revealed his more ill-tempered side - last month he called paparazzi photographers in Taiwan airport "pigs" for invading his privacy and lashed out at Madonna for allegedly lip-synching some of her live concerts.

But the programme, being written by the Sex and the City writer Cindy Chupack in half-hour episodes, will feature a lead character who will actually be an amalgam of all those rock phenomena Sir Elton has known over the years, including Rod Stewart, Mick Jagger, David Bowie and Freddie Mercury. Missing from the list so far may be the craziest of all the big music stars, Michael Jackson. Perhaps he is not in the right generation. Or maybe the lawyers at ABC know better than to even utter his name.

"It's not about me, but about everybody we've encountered over the past 30 years," Sir Elton told Variety. "We've met every star and seen every misbehaviour. And it's about the people around the star, who have to put up with them. It's an upmarket Spinal Tap".

The idea has been percolating for a while. It first came to Sir Elton's long-time business manager, Bob Halley, three years ago and Sir Elton recently warmed to it. Also involved in putting together the show, which will be filmed with a single camera and have the look of the BBC hit, The Office, is the songwriter Bruce Roberts and producer Michael Edelstein.

"Elton's been very public about the craziness of his life," Mr Edelstein said. "There's nothing like the world of rock'n'roll. He's got a hairdresser, valet and two straight Swat bodyguards on staff. They've assembled their own wacky family. Elton's witty, relevant and has always been on the cutting edge in both his personal life and musically."

Just this week, the 57-year-old rock star told the German celebrity magazine, Gala, that for years he lived "like a wild animal", thanks to drugs, depression and occasional suicide attempts. But he said "that person no longer exists", adding that he and his partner of many years, the Canadian film producer, David Furnish, 40, intended to marry soon.

Meanwhile, a full history of the sitcom's lead character is under development, spanning his life from the early 1970s until today. Sir Elton has written a song for the show, called "Him and Us" which will feature on his 43rd album, Peachtree Road. The album is to be released in the US on Tuesday.

As for his occasional outbursts, Sir Elton is repentant. "I don't seem to have anger - I have rage," he told The Sunday Times recently. "There are still times, especially when I'm tired, when the bad temper and the irrationality come out. The rage and the temper, and I think the irrationality are there. But it's part of being creative."

And now Sir Elton's creativity is about to extend to television and - possibly - to embarrassing his own famous friends.

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