Recalling my ealry April 50+ Biopic Projects On Black Public Figures “In Limbo” post, there are 3 Sammy projects we know of that are in some stage of development – 1 a feature film; the other 2 stage works.
First, it was announced last December that Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios acquired rights to his life story from his daughter Tracey Davis, with plans to develop both a feature film AND a stage production.
“On his deathbed, one of the last things my father told me as he put my face in his hands was: ‘Tracy, tell my story. Warts and all’,” said Tracey Davis, and, apparently, Byron Allen is the man for the job.
And, as a star of stage and screen (big and small), singer, dancer, husband (thrice), children, near-fatal accident, conversion to Judaism, hanging out in the White House with presidents, and much more… what a full, stirring life Sammy Davis Jr led, which could translate into one heck of a film… depending on who else is involved in putting it all together.
And second,Yes I Can, a new musical inspired by the life and times of Davis Jr is reportedly in the works from producers Arlie Cone and Steven Hayes, with a Broadway run on the horizon.
Sam Scalamoni of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast on Broadway, is set to direct.
While we wait to hear on the status of Byron Allen’s 2 projects, Yes I Can continues to move forward; first, with a title change (it’s now called I Will, I Can), some new crucial crew attachments (four-time Emmy– and two-time Grammy Award-winning composer Patrick Williams; Jules Aaron is writing the book, with Gail Kantor penning the lyrics), and workshopping dates planned for a show the producers are hoping to open on Broadway in 2013.
I Will, I Can is intended as a musical featuring a charismatic, triple-threat song-and-dance man, in the same way that Dreamgirls featured a Supremes-like Motown girl group.
Sam Scalamoni remains the director.
No casting or production dates have been announced yet.
The show is only the latest in a string of Davis-themed musicals, including the Old Globe Theatre’s 2009 production of Sammy, and Eric Jordan Young’s 2006 production, Sammy & Me.
As far as on-screen representation, you may recall that Don Cheadle won a Golden Globe for his performance as Davis in the 1998 HBO film The Rat Pack; also worth noting is that several comedians/actors have impersonated Davis during their careers, like Eddie Griffin, Garrett Morris, Eddie Murphy, Tim Meadows, Tommy Davidson and even Billy Crystal and others.