A biopic for James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, has been run through Hollywood production cycles for years since Brown’s death in 2006. Yet another twist has brought the director of last year’s The Help, Tate Taylor onto the project. According to Deadline.com, producer Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment is currently in negotiations with Taylor, and will be producing the project along with Mick Jagger’s Jagged Films.
Prior to Monday’s report, Spike Lee was believed to be at the head of the project, having been signed onto the project just days after Brown’s death on Christmas Day in 2006. Lee had completed a script, and Wesley Snipes was cast to play the lead role. Snipes however, would not record his own version of Brown’s hits, as per Lee’s wishes.
“I want to hear James Brown’s voice. That’s just my personal taste,” Lee told MTV News in 2009.
Due to Snipes’s legal troubles, he was dropped, and Eddie Murphy was seemingly next in line to play the music icon, referring to Lee’s script as “incredible” earlier this year.
“That’s a great, great piece,” Murphy told BlackTree TV in March. “I wish it could come together. It has everything and his story is incredible. Imagine how incredible Ray Charles’ story was — and he’s at the piano. James is doing splits and running and jump off the wall. Angel dust. Shooting out tires. James’ sh-t is bananas.”
Months later, it appears that neither Lee, nor his script will be involved in film, with the producers reportedly going ahead with a screenplay by brothers Jez and John-Henry Butterworth. Brown’s family is on board with the production as well.
“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 widow Tommie Rae Brown said.
Brown’s daughter Deanna Brown Thomas commented on the potential reach of the biopic. “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!”