EXCLUSIVE: Imagine Entertainment‘s Brian Grazer has bolstered his long desire to turn James Brown‘s life story into a feature film. Tate Taylor, who adapted and made his helming debut on The Help, is in negotiations to direct the untitled project. Another musical icon, Mick Jagger, has joined Grazer as producer. The film will be a co-production between Jagged Films, based on a screenplay by Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth. Grazer and Jagger will produce along with Jagged’s Victoria Pearman and Imagine’s Erica Huggins. They will now look for distribution, and to find an actor who can play Brown.
The story charts a young boy’s rise from extreme poverty and violence to become The Godfather Of Soul, one of the most influential black artists in history whose career spanned six decades. Grazer started the project at a time when the singer himself was an active part in its development, before he died in late 2006.
The Butterworths most recently scripted the Doug Liman-directed Fair Game, which starred Naomi Watts and Sean Penn. Now, the question is who has the chops to play the singer. Eddie Murphy once did a stellar impression of the singer, but that was a long time ago. Anthony Mackie?
Said Jagger: “It’s a great honor to be involved with a project as rich as the story of the legendary James Brown. He was a mesmerizing performer with a fascinating life.”
Brown’s family will continue to be part of the package. “I am deeply honored that Mick Jagger and Brian Grazer, two of my husband James Brown’s favorite people, have entered into a partnership to bring his inspirational story to the big screen,” added Brown’s widow, Tommie Rae Brown. Added his daughter, Deanna Brown Thomas: “My father’s music has been a beacon to people all over the world and now his life story will impact future generations and show Why he is respected as The Godfather of Soul, Mr. James Brown!”
CAA is packaging the film and will represent its domestic distribution rights.