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Pop Culture

Get ready to party ahead of 'Behind the Candelabra'

Michael Douglas as Liberace in "Behind the Candelabra."

The sequin-covered this, the rhinestone-encrusted that, the champagne cocktails, and -- oh! -- the frilled cuffs and collars. Sunday night is the big event: "Behind the Candelabra," the highly anticipated Liberace-Scott Thorson relationship flick, finally comes to the small screen.

It's also the perfect night to host the ultimate TV viewing party. After all, with so much glamour and excess set to hit the boob tube, it seems a shame not to let a little of that spill over into your living room.

Director Steven Soderbergh has made it clear that, despite the kitsch factor, the film isn't a shallow, campy effort. It's a look at a real relationship and real people -- at least as real as a story can be when it's based on Thorson's tell-all book, which was written after his lover-turned-benefactor-turned-bitter-ex died.

But just because the story is getting a thoughtful treatment on-screen, that doesn't mean you can't make a camp-filled fête of it off-screen.

Claudette Barius / Today

Just having a new movie with the combined star power of Michael Douglas and Matt Damon is reason enough for a little celebration. Add to it that the former is portraying one of the most popular (and easily the most flamboyant) entertainers of the 20th century, and the latter is playing the suing-mad, surgically-enhanced chauffeur who outed him -- well, pop culture rarely offers up such party-worthy plots.

So, let the celebration begin!

The menu
It's easy to go overboard with a bash like this -- and let's face it, it's necessary for most elements of a proper Liberace-themed party. The man himself was the definition of overboard. But when it comes to refreshments, keep the menu simple and the bar open.

For food, just get your hands on a used copy of the classic (and sadly out of print) "Liberace Cooks!" and let Mr. Showmanship himself plan your meal with "delicious recipes for you from his seven dining rooms." If you can't pull that off, just go with one of the recipes you can find online -- Liberace Sticky Buns anyone?

The music
If you have to ask what music to play, you're throwing the wrong party. Unless you or your guests know how to tickle the ivories particularly well, keep Liberace's own brand of pumped-up pop and quasi-classical tunes playing until show time.

The mood
Look around your place. Glitz? Glam? Glitter? If you answered "no" to any of those one-word queries, then it's back to work. You're not party-ready until it all shines, sparkles or reflects.

The main attraction
If everything else is just so, then it's time to focus on the part of the party that really matters: the costumes. Whether you and your guests are draped in floor-length faux furs or wearing a blinding amount of sequins, don't hold back. Dress as Liberace. Dress as Scott Thorson. Dress as one of their glitterati pals. Heck, dress up as one of the kids from "Toddlers & Tiaras," as long as your outfit knows no subtlety.


Prepare a prize or two for the best costumes. Did someone wear every ring they own (and borrow a few more too)? Prize. Did someone actually tape their skin back for that fresh-from-the-old-school-plastic-surgeon's-office look (just like Rob Lowe did for his part as Dr. Jack Startz, Liberace's go-to face man, in "Candelabra")? Big prize.

Start bringing out the bling now. There's just enough time to plan the party and polish your candelabra (you do have a candelabra?) before the TV event kicks off.

"Behind the Candelabra" airs May 26 at 9 p.m. on HBO.