Archive for "Biopics"

This Day In Film: “What’s Love Got to Do with It”

Published by Clay Cane on Friday, June 8, 2012 at 12:00 am.

(Photo: Touchstone Pictures)

This weekend, marks the anniversary of the biopic on the legendary Tina Turner, which was based on her autobiography I, Tina.

Everyone in Hollywood knew playing the role of Anna Mae Bullock also known as Tina Turner would be award-worthy.  By the early 1990’s Tina was already a legend, respected in every musical circle across the world — one could only dream to play her life story. So, nearly every Black actress sought out the role: Jenifer Lewis, Robin Givens, Janet Jackson, Pam Grier, Halle Berry and Whitney Houston.  The role was offered to Whitney, who had huge box office success with The Bodyguard, but she turned down the part due to pregnancy.

Eventually, the role was given to Angela BassettLaurence Fishburne rejected the role of Ike Turner five times until he learned Bassett was the lead. Cinematic history was made…

Met with controversy and criticism, What’s Love Got to Do with It was a box office smash.  The movie grossed nearly 40 million domestically, won Angela Bassett a Golden Globe and received two Oscar nods.  In addition, the film helped to invigorate Tina Turner’s career, which was already pretty hot.  What’s Love Got to Do with It is one of the greatest biopics made and considered a true classic.

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Where Is the Lena Horne Biopic?

Published by Clay Cane on Friday, February 24, 2012 at 10:00 am.

(Photo: CBS/Landov)

The iconic Lena Horne was honored at last year’s Academy Awards by Oscar winner Halle Berry. As we all know, Lena Horne passed away in May of 2010. Horne’s popularity is still strong. Stormy Weather, the biography written by James Gavin, was a bestseller on Amazon.com, receiving good reviews and praise from Oprah’s gal pal Gayle King.

But where is that biopic? Legendary columnist Liz Smith, stated on Variety.com:

There is, of course, word whizzing about for a movie. In late 2007, Oprah announced her plan to star Alicia Keys as Lena in a biopic. But we haven’t heard anything on that front since.

Lena Mary Calhoun Horne was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1917. At 17 years old she had a featured role in the Cotton Club Parade and would go on to join several other orchestras and bands. Lena received immense pressure from management and industry insiders (Black and white) to “pass” for white or Hispanic. Horne aggressively refused, and when she finally came to Hollywood she even refused to play a maid.

Lena Horne was considered to play the lead role in 1951’s Showboat, but Ava Gardner was chosen because interracial relationships were banned in films. However, according to Wikipedia, “MGM executives required Gardner to practice her singing using recordings of Horne performing the songs, which offended both actresses.” Ain’t that something?

This is a biopic that we need and I can’t understand why no one is on it, considering biopics are often successful and sometimes Oscar-worthy.

First, Janet Jackson was set to play Lena Horne but allegedly was booted from the project after the infamous “wardrobe malfunction.” The biopic was set to be a made for TV movie on ABC.

Then, as Smith mentioned, Alicia Keys was to play Horne, but all talks of that have vanished.

I want to see the film made but I would love to see an actor tackle the role instead of a singer. Paula Patton, Jurnee Smollett, or even Nicole Ari Parker would be good choices.

Who would you like to see in a Lena Horne biopic?

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More Biopics: Whitney Houston and Miles Davis

Published by Clay Cane on Friday, January 27, 2012 at 10:00 am.

(Photo: George Rose/Getty Images)

Looks like 2012 might be the year biopics get started.

First, there is the Whitney Houston biopic, which is supposedly being produced by Clive Davis. Last year, Meagan Good expressed interested in playing Whitney. Two other names have swirled around over the past few months: Lark Vorhees and Vivica Fox. While both are talented, I don’t see either one as Whitney. I could see Nicole Beharie, Regina King, Kerry Washington or Wendy Raquel Robinson from The Game.

Miles Davis‘ biopic is a long time down the road, but Herbie Hancock has already been chosen to do the score. The only real name floating around is Don Cheadle, which seems like a perfect match. Other actors that could fit the bill are Chiwetel Ejiofor or Samuel L. Jackson.

Davis was a legendary jazz musician but he also had demons—he had an addiction to heroin and was known to be physically abusive. It would take a true talent to tackle such an iconic and complex person.

Which biopics would you like to see?

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Fantasia to Lipsynch in Mahalia Jackson Biopic

Published by Clay Cane on Wednesday, February 23, 2011 at 12:00 am.

A few weeks ago there were rumors that Fantasia was pregnant. However, we all learned that the former American Idol wasn’t preggers, she just gained weight to play gospel legend Mahalia Jackson.

The film is titled Mahalia! and 18 songs are approved for the flick, which is based on the 1993 book Got to Tell It: Mahalia Jackson, Queen of Gospel. Considering Fantasia is a singer, most assumed that she would re-record Jackson’s gospel classics. However, it was recently revealed that she will lip-sync.  The producer, Dave LaCour Simien, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune, “We wanted to make sure if we do it, we do it right.”

I think this is a good call. In many of the great biopics the actors were lip-syncing: Angela Bassett in What’s Love Got to Do With It?, Halle Berry in Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, Larenz Tate in Why Do Falls Fall in Love?, etc.  Mahalia had such a distinctive voice that Hollywood should leave the vocals to her.

Check out the video below of Mahalia Jackson singing “Trouble of the World” from the classic Imitation of Life. Do you think Fantasia could properly channel Jackson?

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Fantasia Isn’t Pregnant, She Is Mahalia Jackson; George Lopez Joins Wanda and Sheneneh Movie

Published by Clay Cane on Wednesday, February 9, 2011 at 12:00 am.

Rumors have surfaced that Fantasia is with child – again. But, it’s not true. She is just gaining 45 pounds for a biopic on gospel icon Mahalia Jackson.  Her manager, Brian Dickens, told CNN that “Fantasia’s pregnant with prosperity.” She starts filming the biopic in May.

I love Fantasia but I am a little unsure about her playing Mahalia Jackson.  I would’ve rather seen this go to more of an actress than a singer — but those days are over…  However, you never know, she might surprise us!

In other news, Jamie Foxx revealed on the George Lopez Show that Lopez has been added the Wanda and Sheneneh film.  He will play the cop who is hunting down Wanda and Sheneneh who are robbing banks from Northern to Southern  California.

I don’t know anyone who isn’t looking forward to this film — it’s a guaranteed success.  I am still waiting for a confirmation that Tichina Arnold as Pam will join the cast — this is a must!  Make it happen!

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Could It Be True? Bob Marley Doc Gets A Release Date

Published by Clay Cane on Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 8:00 am.

For years there has been talk of a Bob Marley documentary and biopic. Well, the biopic looks like it is forever stuck in legalities. At one point Jaime Foxx had the role but he fell off, Jonathan Demme was set to direct but he quit and supposedly the entire project was stalled due to rights with the music.

Now, there is the documentary, directed by Oscar-winning Kevin Macdonald and the movie is titled Marley. Supposedly he has the blessing of the Marley family. The film is set to be released in the fall of 2011, around the 30th anniversary of the reggae star’s death.

This is a film I’m definitely looking forward to but I hope the biopic still happens.   A few actors who I think could do Marley justice: Jeffrey Wright, Michael Ealy and Idris Elba.

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Halle On Playing Aretha: “I Can’t Do Her Justice!”

Published by Clay Cane on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 12:00 am.

Looks like Halle Berry as the legendary Aretha Franklin is not completely in the works as reported. The Queen of Soul told Wendy Williams that the Oscar winner will play her in the long awaited biopic. However, on the red carpet for the Golden Globes, Ryan Seacrest asked Halle about the film. She answered, “I can’t sing! If I could carry a tune, I’d consider it. Someone should tell Aretha that I can’t do her justice.”

Considering many people have been giving Halle as Aretha the side-eye since it was announced, it’s good that Halle also agrees she may not be the right fit. But singing shouldn’t be the issue — she was lip-synching in the biopic of Dorothy Dandridge.  Sounds like Halle just feels like she isn’t the right fit…

I think some good selections to play Aretha would be Mo’Nique, Jennifer Hudson or maybe even Viola Davis.  Honestly, I don’t want anyone singing Aretha’s songs – let them lip-synch like Angela Bassett in What’s Love Got To Do With It? Stay tuned…

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Aretha Franklin Confirms Halle Berry Playing Her In Biopic

Published by Clay Cane on Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at 10:47 am.

There has been tons of talk on Aretha Franklin’s biopic for the longest.  In September, we heard that Halle Berry was playing the legendary Queen of Soul. There was even a press release that said Denzel Washington, Halle and Terrence Howard would all be in the film. Well, today Aretha confirmed on The Wendy Williams Show that Oscar winner Halle Berry will play Aretha Franklin on film.

Now, I know there are many Halle haters out there who feel that she gets too many roles.  But, clearly this was a choice by the Queen and Halle obviously couldn’t say no.  This will be an extreme stretch for the actress, who already immortalized Dorothy Dandridge and whose dream role is Angela Davis.  Nonetheless, what Aretha wants, Aretha gets. I would’ve been curious to see what Mo’Nique or Jennifer Hudson could have done with the role – but Aretha knows her story better than anyone else.  Some artists don’t get any choice on who plays them in their biopic.

What do you think of Halle as Aretha?

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Nina Simone Biopic Starring Mary J. On Hold?

Published by Clay Cane on Thursday, December 23, 2010 at 12:00 am.

The film industry can be just as shady as the music industry — even with divas like Mary J. Blige on a project. Mary J. recently told the Today Show that the Nina Simone biopic keeps being pushed back, even after she learned French to play the late, great jazz singer. Blige said, “They keep pushing it back. It’s not my fault. I’m ready. I went to the acting class, I learned ‘Ne Me Quitte Pas.’ I know all French, whatever — so I’m doing my job.”

Now, there has been talk that the film has been shelved due to conflicts with the rights from Nina Simone’s 1991 autobiography — however, I have not been able to find this original article, which was supposedly printed in UK’s Guardian, anywhere.

Earlier in the year Nina Simone’s daughter, Simone, lashed out at Mary J. Blige for allegedly saying her mother was a drug addict.  Nina Simone never had a drug problem and once said about the Billie Holiday comparison, “She was a drug addict. I’m more of a diva, like Maria Callas.”

“That’s very disappointing and disconcerting for me because now information is being put out that is not true,” Simone said of Mary’s alleged comments. “My mother was not a drug addict.  She was many things but a drug addict is not one of them. That’s the best way that I can put it right now. I’m attempting to reach out to her so that maybe through us sitting down and talking she can get a better idea of who my mother was.”

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Faith Evans To Play Florence Ballard

Published by Clay Cane on Friday, October 8, 2010 at 11:23 am.

The biopic of the legendary Florence Ballard, the ex Supreme who died penniless and on welfare, is in the works.  R&B singer Faith Evans revealed today that she landed the role of Ballard.

I always give the side-eye when singers who have little experience acting play biopics.  Ballard is a meaty, complex character and the main inspiration behind Effie White in Dreamgirls.  Nonetheless, Evans might surprise us — she certainly has the soul in her vocals.

Ballard was the voice of The Supremes, but as their popularity increased, Diana Ross‘ pop voice was moved to the front. This caused tension in the group, which eventually forced Ballard to leave.  The Detroit native  suffered with weight issues, alcoholism and depression.  Florence Ballard died in 1976 at 32 years old.

Faith Evans has appeared in two films, 2000’s Turn It Up and 2003’s The Fighting Temptations.  Faith surely has the musical chops to play Ballard and has a striking resemblance, so I am definitely curious to see her acting chops.

Side note:  Who is going to play Diana Ross?  Maybe Taraji P. Henson’s dream will finally come true and she’ll get to play the original diva.

What do you think of Faith Evans playing Florence Ballard?

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