Lee Daniels wants you — actually, your memories or photos of the Apollo Theater. The Empire co-creator and Oscar-nominated filmmaker is set to direct The Apollo Theater Film Project, a documentary about the iconic Harlem hall whose stage has been worked by legends from Billie Holiday, James Brown and Ella Fitzgerald to Marvin Gaye Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson.
Daniels and Apollo Theater President and CEO Jonelle Procope are reaching out to the public for film footage, home movies, photographs or other memorabilia from the venue’s 80-plus years of live performances.
“We are asking members of the community who have been to the Apollo, who may have parents or grandparents or other family members or friends who have done so, to help us find any material — audience footage, photographs, or other memories that we can use in our documentary film,” Daniels and Procope said in announcing the project. “We have established a website for anyone who wants to submit. We will, of course, respect everybody’s ownership of their property.”
The film will tell the story of one of the world’s most famous theaters — a driving force in shaping America’s music and cultural landscape. Born out of the Harlem Renaissance, the Apollo became the most prized venue on the “Chitlin’ Circuit” during the time of racial segregation in the U.S. — the Harlem community’s answer to Carnegie Hall.
White Horse Pictures and Piper Cub Productions will produce the film with funding from Impact Partners, StudioCanal, Universal Music Group and Chicago Media Project. StudioCanal will handle international distribution, with Impact Partners and White Horse Pictures repping U.S. rights. White Horse’s Nigel Sinclair and Jeanne Elfant Festa are producing, the latter under her Piper Cub banner. Exec producers are Dan Cogan, Geralyn Dreyfous, Didier Lupfer, Ron Halpern, Nicholas Ferrall, Matt Jackson, Steve Cohen, Paula Froehle, Ken Pelletier, Dave Knott and Procope. Universal Music Group will curate the music for the film.