A film based on the life of the singer has long been in the works, with Spike Lee attached to direct it, and uber-producer Brian Grazer overseeing the project; though it’s in limbo right now, with no certainty whatsoever that it’ll ever be made.
At one point, Wesley Snipes was Spike’s man for the starring job, but my guess is that Wesley’s tax problems meant a change in plans.
In fact, as recently as 2009, it seemed like the project was as close to a surething as any can get, with Spike saying in an interview with MTV News, “We’re doing it together – it’s going to happen… He’s my man.“
He was referring to Wesley Snipes in that quote back in January 2009 (S&A hadn’t been born yet).
Spike added that he intended to use James Brown’s “authentic voice” during for any musical sequences in the film; essentially, Wesley would lip-synch.
Years later since the project first came together, little seems to have further developed on this project, and it looks like if it does happen anytime soon, it won’t be Wesley Snipes in the starring role.
Last we heard about the film (last year), James Brown’s daughter, Dr. Yamma Brown said that the family was considering Eddie Murphy, Chris Brown & Usher to star in the Godfather of Soul’s biopic, an announcement which, as I recall, took a lot of you by surprise.
And based on the interview with Eddie below, he’s apparently the man for the part, and is ready and willing to do it; although as I’ve said before, I’d rather cast an unknown.
Also, when it comes to biopics, I’d much rather that they focus on some period of the man’s life, as opposed to trying to squeeze his entire life into 2 hours.
James Brown’s is just one of several film projects based on the lives of deceased black entertainers currently in limbo (films on the lives of Marvin Gaye, Nina Simone and Tupac are 3 I can immediately think of).
Watch the interview clip below with BlackTree TV in which Eddie (doing press for A Thousand Words) talks about Spike’s James Brown project, stating, “there’s the most incredble script that Spike Lee worked on that has everything in it, but you have to get the rights from the people who have the rights to James’ story… and getting them all together… which makes it hard to come together… but I hope it comes together… it’s a great, great piece…“: