EXCLUSIVE: Merle Haggard’s life may be made into a feature film. GMH Productions has optioned the script Done It All, about the life of the legendary country singer/songwriter/musician, written by Cinderella Man scribe Cliff Hollingsworth. The project, named after one of the country legend’s hit songs, was developed in conjunction with Carl Cooper, a friend who Haggard put in charge of helping to develop a movie about his life with the screenwriter.
The idea for the project originally started with producer Donald Kushner, who had been talking to Haggard about a movie about his life. Kushner then approached Hollingsworth as a writer for hire, but Hollingsworth said he’d rather do it on spec. Cinderella Man was also sold as a spec and was made into a film that starred Russell Crowe as 1930s boxer James Braddock. That inspirational film ended up garnering three Academy Award nominations and Hollingsworth was nominated that year by BAFTA and the WGA for best original screenplay.
The script for Done It All is completed and the producers will be going out to actors and directors shortly.
The story of Haggard is a rich one. Born into poverty — he lived in a box car with his parents and brother and sister — his father died when Merle was 5 years old. The youngest of the siblings by far, Haggard had little direction. He eventually became a juvenile delinquent turning to a life of crime. After serving time in San Quentin, he decided to go straight. Once out of the joint, he was a struggling musician for several years before he got his big break, courtesy of another country star, Wynn Stewart, who gave him the song “Sing A Sad Song” that would end up launching his career in country music in 1963.
After that song became a hit on the country charts, Haggard started his climb to fame. The script follows Haggard’s life from childhood, to the ups and downs of his personal life, and the rise of his career from struggling artist to superstar with such hits as “Okie From Muskogee”, “The Fightin’ Side Of Me” and later “Mama Tried” and “Today I Started Loving You Again,” to name only a few.
GMH is the production company started by industry veteran Abraham Gordon and the writer’s brother Mike Hollingsworth. Ed McCormick of McCormick Bagwell reps Cliff Hollingsworth.