I Don't Feel Good! Brian Grazer Says James Brown Biopic Is Ready To Start Casting

James Brown Biopic

To paraphrase James Brown, I don't feel good after reading Rolling Stone magazine's interview with producer, Brian Grazer, about the status of the biopic that he and Mick Jagger are producing on the late soul singer.

Now that the Hardest Working Man in Show Business' estate has been put in order, Grazer says the picture is moving forward again after being in limbo for some time. Jagger has come on board as producer, which is a smart move given that he's a student of Brown, but Grazer's explanation of director Spike Lee's departure from the project last fall and the subsequent hiring of The Help helmsman Tate Taylor doesn't exactly boost my confidence level. Here's what Grazer says:

What happened with Spike Lee, who was said to be directing the original movie project before Brown's death?
He was the choice when I had the rights. I had just produced Inside Man with him. When the rights left me, I didn't have any control, and I couldn't make director choices. So when it came later with new people and new rights holders, we weren't doing it with Spike Lee anymore. The world was different then. Now you have to make movies for less money.

When it was announced that Lee was no longer involved and that a white director, Tate Taylor, was on board, the blogosphere went nuts. How do you respond to those comments?
What would I say? I view that a bunch of different ways. Mick and I don't see the world that way. I started my career making Boomerang and CB4. I've made so many movies where I've supported black artists. Tate made The Help, and that had almost an entirely black population. I just want to try to make the best movie.

Were you surprised by those reactions?
Well, I didn't read them! I can't make movies like that, where I'm going to look at some blog and change the course of the whole movie. I also think Mick is so amazing. For him to decide he's going to participate and split half the money – he's a man of integrity, and I feel pretty good about that.

I get that Grazer and Jagger want to make this an Important picture, which Brown most certainly deserves, but I fear that, given the creative path they've chosen, the grit of Brown's life, which is so key to his portrayal, will be sacrificed for something more sanitized.  I hope Spike tweets his thoughts on this.

Then again, as the saying goes, "shoulda, coulda, woulda" — the project is moving ahead with Taylor and Fair Game screenwriters  John-Henry and Jez Butterworth, and Grazer says casting is about to begin:

Do you think you'd cast a pop star or an actor who can sing or dance?
We haven't made any decisions yet. We're going to start casting and we're going to have to test lots of actors and be determined to pick the right one. No movie starts in a day. I've never loved a subject and not made the movie. Friday Night Lights took 13 years. American Gangster took seven or eight.

Who do you think should play Brown? Put your picks in the comments section. (Jamie Foxx, you can stop raising your hand now.)  Whoever it is, I hope Grazer and Jagger hire Prince to consult on this picture because he's the only contemporary artist I can think of whose performances match the intensity, complexity and virtuosity of the ones Brown gave in his prime.

[Rolling Stone

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  • skip says:

    wayne brady!

  • I been waiting and preparing for this opportunity. I was born for this role. I played Lamont Dozier in the "Temptations". Please send me information to compete for the lead role. 412-360-5541

  • you want to see the next James Brown go to youtube.com and push in thebossman james brown and look at Mr John Hall from the recording group Philly Cream doing james brown and you tell me if there is any one that going to out do him with that hat and his dancing like james. call him at 267 591 6161 this young man is the hotes james brown in the city of Philadelphila.

  • Farrell says:

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  • Carol Black says:

    If your looking for the man to play Mr. James Brown you've found him The Bossman of Phila . Pa.. This man will leave you with your mouth, you would think it's James Brown as a matter of fact he qas told this by Mr. when he opened up for him at the Old Uptown and also got to travel with James for one year so if you want the best you have just got him. All his moves to a tee don' believe me jus check him out on utube. Now when you are told by the God Father himself he's the best he has seen do him and then take him on the road whats that telling, I would say you got your man Take it from Howard Heward whom he opened for about 2 weeks ago, Bossman your a bad man.

  • Carolyn says:

    The amazing Lloyd Diamond, a James Brown impersonator, who appears often at the Empire Casino, in Yonkers, New York ! He has the RIGHT height as well as THE look ! Check out his website.

    • James was a natrual, you dont want a look alike. You someone who can light up the screen just by being in the frame. Charizma man with a lot of soul can you it. I love Eddie but remeber his performance in Dream girls, it was Eddie. I have been a fan of Leon since we walked together in the Temptations, but really Lil Richard Penderman. I got all the breakdowns for the part and more. See my photos and my hear my musicn at Soundclick.com/peteranthony. E-mail me at Coston1@live.com. I look forward to the challenge.

  • Carolyn says:

    Hey ! Y 'all forgot about Eddie Murphy . . . the " hot tub " guy ! Heehee. He CAN do it ! !

    • john hall says:

      before you think of geting any star thats out here who has money first take a look at the bossman from philadelphia pa thats who should play James Brown. (youtube.com ) thebossman James Brown. look at this brother first call him up 267 591 6162

    • TOU WANT TO SEE THE PERSON THAT NEEDS TO PLAY JAMES BROWN GO TO ( YOUTUBE.COM ) AND PUSH IN ( thebossman James Brown ) and look at Mr John Hall of Philadelphia do the Godfather of soul call him at 267 591 6162

    • YOU WANT TO SEE THE PERSON THAT NEEDS TO PLAY JAMES BROWN GO TO ( YOUTUBE.COM ) AND PUSH IN ( thebossman James Brown ) and look at Mr John Hall of Philadelphia do the Godfather of soul call him at 267 591 6162