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‘This Is a Terrible Idea’: John Legend to Produce Bernie Mac Biopic, Fans Express Concern Over Who Might Play the Late Comedian

The late ‘King of Comedy’ Bernie Mac’s life story is set to hit the big screen more than a decade after his passing.

News of a feature biopic came from Mike Jackson — singer John Legend‘s producing partner for his production company Get Lifted — during day 2 of the Tribeca Film Festival. “We just partnered with Bernie Mac’s estate to cover Bernie Mac’s story,” said Jackson during a panel discussion.

John Legend to produce a Bernie Mac biopic. Photo by John Lamparski/Getty ImagesJason Merritt/FilmMagic

Legend previously worked with Mac in “Soul Men,” one of the comedian’s last films before his death. At the age of 50 Mac, who was a Chicago native, died in 2008 of complications from sarcoidosis, an inflammatory lung disease.

Just two years before his passing, Mac wrapped the fifth and final season of his hit show “The Bernie Mac Show.” The often raunchy comedian portrayed the PG version of himself dealing with the ups and downs of raising his nephew and two nieces alongside his wife Rhonda, played by Kellita Smith, on the TV show.

“It was beautifully done. … His humor was always edgy but it always had so much heart to it at the same time,” said Legend of Mac’s sitcom. “You could tell he was a family man. You could tell that he loved the people he was talking about. … He truly just got joy from lighting people’s faces up with laughter.”

While appearing on the “Steve Harvey Show” in 2016, Mac’s high school sweetheart-turned-wife said the continued love shown to her late husband still moves her to tears. “I’m always amazed at just the outpouring of love that people still have for him, and it just warms my heart that they remember him, and they love him in the way they do,” said Rhonda McCullough.

At the comedian’s funeral, held Aug. 18, 2008, DL Hughley remembered his friend as being a Black man who strongly believed in himself and could not be swayed by others. Those qualities were admirable to his peers, but in 2020, Hughley said that today’s cancel culture would not have stomached the late comedian’s edgy humor well.

“I think about this all time, from the time Bernie passed to now, I think certainly society has changed the way they digest entertainment has changed,” explained Hughley during an interview for “Access Hollywood.” The former “ComicView” host shared that while he misses his friend, watching society attempt to muzzle Mac is something he never wanted to see.

“I think it would have been difficult, I think a lot of people would’ve had a hard time with some of the things that Bernie says and things in his act, so it’s bittersweet but I think it would have been even sadder to watch people assail his art form, his vantage point because of where we are as a society.”

While the film project is still in the rudimentary phase, Mac’s fans could not help but question who would be cast as the lead. 

Others are simply thrilled the comedian’s legacy is being remembered.

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