Nicely suited amongst the ranks of Ridley Scott as a purveyor of countless pledged projects, Spike Lee has still carved out his own special corner for plans of biopics on seemingly every African American pop culture figure, alive or deceased. Joe Louis, James Brown and Jackie Robinson have all been bandied about by the filmmaker as subjects on various occasions, but after his long-discussed Michael Jackson documentary, “Bad 25,” finally hit screens at Venice and TIFF in the past few weeks, another music icon has crept into the agenda as a possible future focus.
“Bad 25” features interviews with the likes of Mariah Carey, Kanye West, and Questlove, but during his TIFF Q&A, Lee specifically mentioned aspirations for a documentary on musician Stevie Wonder, who in the film performs a rendition of MJ’s “The Way You Make Me Feel.” It makes sense, not simply because the fascinating Wonder would make an enthralling subject, but also because he and Lee have been well acquainted ever since 1991, when the director proposed he write and perform the soundtrack to his film, “Jungle Fever” (longtime collaborator Terence Blanchard eventually took on the gig).
However, as well connected as Lee is to the music industry in general, one interview that will remain excluded is with Prince, who proved to be as secretive with the director as he remains to the general public. Not only did Prince refuse an interview with Lee for “Bad 25,” but he also wouldn’t let footage from a 1997 interview with Chris Rock — explaining his lack of involvement with the “Bad 25” video – be released either. Just as a glimpse of what could’ve been, though, Prince was originally set to play Wesley Snipes‘ role, but then objected over the motivation of the song’s first line, “Your butt is mine,” and how that pertains to his character’s perspective. It seems Prince may have forgotten in that moment that he is, indeed, Prince.
Still, after receiving largely positive notices (from us included) and a prime ABC Thanksgiving airdate, “Bad 25” joins “Red Hook Summer” in exhibiting a revitalized filmmaker moving swiftly. Lee’s “Oldboy” remake is next up for production (shooting starts this month), so while a Wonder doc may sound enticing, it will likely remain on the back burner for at least the near future. [Vulture]