The James Brown biopic may finally be made, but not with it’s original director. Spike Lee has been replaced by movie director Tate Taylor and people are upset because Tate is White. They feel that he will not be able to tell the story of one of our greatest entertainers, the way a Black director could’ve.
Movie Producer Brian Grazer (Apollo 13, Inside Man) has owned the rights to James Browns story for the past 12 years. He was originally slated to produce the film and Spike Lee was the director he chose. A script was written and Spike and Brian were on board when Brown passed away. His family contested the Will and when the court system got involved, Brian Grazer lost the rights to the story.
Fortunately, an agreement has been reached between Browns wife and children and the rights to Brown’s music are now sewn up, Grazer and a new co-producer – none other than longtime Brown fan Mick Jagger – have revived the biopic. For the first time since the project was reinvigorated, Grazer talks about how he won, lost and regained the rights, Jagger’s role, and the controversial recent decision to hire director Tate Taylor, director of The Help, instead of Lee.
According to Our Associates at EURweb and RollingStone:
In an interview with Rolling Stone, he revealed why he went with a different director.
RS: What happened with Spike Lee, who was said to be directing the original movie project before Brown’s death?
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.
RS: When it was announced that Lee was no longer involved and that a white director, Tate Taylor, was on board, the blogosphere went nuts. How do you respond to those comments?
BG: What would I say? I view that a bunch of different ways. Mick and I don’t see the world that way. I started my career making Boomerang and CB4. I’ve made so many movies where I’ve supported black artists. Tate made The Help, and that had almost an entirely black population. I just want to try to make the best movie.
RS: Were you surprised by those reactions?
BG: Well, I didn’t read them! I can’t make movies like that, where I’m going to look at some blog and change the course of the whole movie. I also think Mick is so amazing. For him to decide he’s going to participate and split half the money – he’s a man of integrity, and I feel pretty good about that.
Whether or not this means Spike demands a higher fee or production companies are not willing to take the same kind of financial risk with Spike as they are with, say a guy like Taylor, is still questionable.
You can get more of this story at Rolling Stone.
Source/Pics: Rollingstone, Getty, EURweb