The story of iconic soul label Stax Records is en route to stage and screen with Evergreen Media Holdings and Oscar-winning 20 Feet From Stardom director Morgan Neville. Neville will executive produce a feature adaptation of author Robert Gordon’s 2013 book Respect Yourself: Stax Records And The Soul Explosion, tracking the inception of the influential record label that created in 1960s Memphis by a white banker and a black radio DJ amid the civil rights movement.
Evergreen also has inked a separate deal with Rondor Music International, a Universal Music Group company, for rights to use the Stax music catalog that put out such soul classics as Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” Wilson Pickett’s “In the Midnight Hour,” the Staple Singers’ “I’ll Take You There” and tracks from the likes of Booker T. and the MGs, Sam and Dave, Isaac Hayes and more.
Armed with the Stax musical library, Evergreen also is plotting a Broadway musical version of Respect Yourself to open shortly after the feature’s release to capitalize on the project’s theatrical publicity campaign.
Neville and Gordon teamed in 2007 to produce the documentary Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson. The pair will exec produce the feature adaptation alongside Evergreen’s Tony DeRosa-Grund. The Evergreen CEO already has Oscar in his sights. “While Evergreen is known for commercially successful branded properties and true stories, it is rare to come across such a unique true story such as Respect Yourself, he said. “Like other ‘prestige projects’ including 12 Years a Slave or The Butler, which are wonderful ensemble pieces which were imbued with Academy Award potential, the Respect Yourself story, combined with the world-renowned and enduring Stax music, makes Evergreen’s feature film project exponentially more commercially viable,” he said. Evergreen’s recent releases include The Conjuring.
Randal Rumage negotiated the music rights deal on behalf of Rondor with Tony DeRosa-Grund for Evergreen and attorney Judith Karfiol for Robert Gordon.