A month ago, ICM agency signed the Jimi Hendrix estate – aka, Experience Hendrix LLC, which is run by his family – in a deal that will exploit the brand, starting with the production of a feature film that will tell Hendrix’s life story.
This news came on the heels of the acquisition announcement of Andre Benjamin’s Jimi Hendrix project, Jimi: All Is By My Side, the John Ridley-directed film that was burdened with controversy since it started production.
That Hendrix project sadly didn’t have the approval of Jimi Hendrix’s estate to use any of the musician’s original songs, with reps for the estate accusing the filmmakers of moving forward with the project without their official permission. Therefore the film is free of all Hendrix-written classics like Purple Haze and The Wind Cries Mary, because of rights issues. To assist, the producers set the film in “Hendrix’s pre-fame era,” as they said, and the music used are covers of other musicians’ songs Hendrix performed.
XLrator Media has set a summer theatrical release for the film (no exact date).
The film that will be produced under this new ICM deal will therefore be the first authorized by Experience Hendrix LLC, and will have their full cooperation, and thus, will include many of Hendrix’s original classics.
“We’re delighted to be associated with ICM Partners on this project that’s been a long time coming,” Janie Hendrix, sister of the late musician, said. “Our concern has always been that any biography of Jimi that employs his music be held to the very highest standard of cinematic excellence. His musical legacy deserves no less. Our partners at ICM are ideal insofar as they completely understand that the use of his music in such a film is a monumental responsibility that will resonate through generations to come as Jimi’s artistry has since the 1960s.”
Obviously a direct jab at Ridley’s film.
The question now is, who will be cast to play Jimi Hendrix in what will likely be a much higher profile project – this one documenting his life from birth to death. And don’t say Andre Benjamin, because I’m quite sure he won’t be in the running.
Past actors whose names have been attached to Hendrix projects include Eddie Murphy, Will Smith and Anthony Mackie, but I also seriously doubt that any of them would be considered at this point. Keep in mind that the Hendrix estate was presented with projects packaged with each of the above actors, and reportedly rejected them all for various reasons. So clearly they have their own ideas.
Who would you cast?
As I’ve said repeatedly, I strongly recommend that they go with an unknown and surround him with A-listers, if necessary in order to shore up the film’s budget and distribution.
And thankfully Jimi Hendrix’s sister, Janie Hendrix, CEO of Experience Hendrix LLC, agrees. In the video below, she talks to Wall Street Journal celebrity reporter Lee Hawkins about the deal the company signed with ICM recently to produce an official Jimi Hendrix film. She also dismisses any involvement in the Andre Benjamin film, and wants to avoid any discussion of that film. And finally, when asked who she’d like to see play Jimi in her film, she appears to be set on “discovering” new talent instead of going with an established actor.