EXCLUSIVE: After stepping up as a producer on his next film Killers of the Flower Moon, Apple has found its next Martin Scorsese project, and its subject is a band the Oscar winner knows well. Sources tell Deadline that Scorsese is on board to direct and produce a new untitled biopic on the Grateful Dead with Jonah Hill on board to play the group’s frontman, Jerry Garcia.
Hill will also produce the pic through his Strong Baby banner along with his producing partner Matt Dines.
Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, who received rave reviews for penning American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson, are writing the script with Rick Yorn of LBI Entertainment joining Hill and Scorsese as producers. The Dead’s Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann will executive produce along with their late bandmate’s daughter Trixie Garcia, Eric Eisner and Bernie Cahill.
Insiders add that with the band and the group’s management participating in the film, Apple has rights to use the group’s musical catalog for the film.
While it’s unknown what will be covered in the film, the story of the group goes back to its formation in the Bay Area amid the rise of the psychedelic counterculture of the ’60s. They continued to record albums and tour, with Deadhead fans following them throughout the years all over the country for lengthy jam sessions. The good times came to an end when Garcia died in 1995, though surviving members have carried on in various incarnations.
Scorsese has a long track record of producing and directing rock docus over the years, included the 2017 Grateful Dead doc Long Strange Trip, but this would mark the first time the director has gone the biopic route for an iconic musical act. The project reunites Hill and Scorsese, who first worked together on The Wolf of Wall Street, which earned Hill his second Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The two have been looking for something to work on together ever since, and the opportunity to play a rock legend like Garcia was too good for Hill to pass up.
The project is another big win for Apple as it continues to build up a versatile and strong slate of film projects with plenty of star power, with Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon among the first major scores for the studio. That film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Jesse Plemons and recently wrapped filming. Other recent films added to the slate include Ridley Scott’s Napoleon pic Kitbag, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Jodie Comer; Antoine Fuqua’s Emancipation, starring Will Smith; and an untitled thriller starring George Clooney and Brad Pitt.
The film also comes on the heels of Scorsese and his production banner Sikelia Productions signing a first-look deal with Apple last year for film and TV. Scorsese and Hill are repped by WME and LBI Entertainment. Alexander and Karaszewski are repped by Management 360 and Kleinberg Lange Cuddy & Carlo.
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