According to Shadow and Act, Spike Lee spent years trying to get his Jackie Robinson project financed and produced (unsuccessfully), only to eventually watch Legendary Pictures and Brian Helgeland launch their own Jackie Robinson picture with Chadwick Boseman. (You can read our post on the movie “42” here).
Then Spike Lee was supposed to be producing a film on James Brown starring Wesley Snipes. (You can read our very short post on Spike and Wesley here). But Wesley went to jail. Now it has been announced that Spike is out and Tate Taylor (director of The Help) is directing the James Brown biopic, with producers Brian Grazer and Mick Jagger. The film was written by Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth (Birthday Girl, The Last Legion, Fair Game). You can read the S&A article here: http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/brian-grazer-reveals-why-spike-lee-was-replace-by-tate-taylor-to-direct-james-brown-biopic
So what happened??? Here is the explanation offered by Brian Grazer during his recent interview with Rolling Stone:
BG: He was the choice when I had the rights. I had just produced Inside Man with him. When the rights left me, I didn’t have any control, and I couldn’t make director choices. So when it came later with new people and new rights holders, we weren’t doing it with Spike Lee anymore. The world was different then. Now you have to make movies for less money. You can read the entire article here: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/james-brown-biopic-set-to-begin-casting-soon-20130116#ixzz2I9qHOs4l
According to Deadline, The James Brown film “charts a young boy’s rise from extreme poverty and violence to become The Godfather Of Soul, one of the most influential black artists in history whose career spanned six decades. Brian Grazer started the project at a time when the singer himself was an active part in its development, before he died in late 2006.” This is a passion project for Grazer who has said Brown was “one of the most electric, exciting stage performers of all time.”
Mick Jagger added, “It’s a great honor to be involved with a project as rich as the story of the legendary James Brown. He was a mesmerizing performer with a fascinating life”.
Brown’s family will still be part of the package, and will be involved with the development. Brown’s Widow, Tommie Rae Brown, made the following statement, “I am deeply honored that Mick Jagger and Brian Grazer, two of my husband James Brown’s favorite people, have entered into a partnership to bring his inspirational story to the big screen”.
Brown’s daughter Deanna Brown Thomas added, “My father’s music has been a beacon to people all over the world and now his life story will impact future generations and show Why he is respected as The Godfather of Soul, Mr. James Brown!”
You can read the entire Deadline article here: http://www.deadline.com/2012/10/the-helps-tate-taylor-and-mick-jagger-join-brian-grazer-on-james-brown-biopic/
Can’t wait to see what happens next. I will keep you posted.