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1950s Broadway Rock & Roll Miscegenation Musical 'Memphis' Set Up For Film Adaptation. Writer Attached

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by Tambay A. Obenson
March 31, 2014 11:15 AM
4 Comments
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Long-time readers of S&A may remember our coverage of this Broadway musical in 2010, when it was rumored that the musical had drawn Hollywood's interest - specifically, Justin Timberlake was reportedly interested in adapting the musical to film, likely as a starring vehicle for himself; It was also rumored that director Oliver Stone, who was said to be a big fan of the show, had been meeting and talking with David Bryan, one of the show's creators and its composer, expressing his interest in making a film out of it.

Those were 2 separate interests, by the way; and I emphasize that neither was officially confirmed.

The Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, Memphis, tells a story that's loosely based on Memphis disc jockey Dewey Phillips, taking place in 1950s Memphis, Tennessee, and centers on a young white rocker named Huey Calhoun who falls in love with a black singer (played by Montego Glover in the Broadway musical - a Tony Award nominee in the Best Actress In A Musical category).

More from the musical's website:

He's a young, white radio DJ named Huey Calhoun, whose love of music transcends race lines and airwaves. She's a black singer named Felicia Farrell, whose career is on the rise, but who can't break out of segregated clubs. When the two collaborate, her soulful music reaches radio audiences everywhere, and the Golden Era of early rock 'n' roll takes flight. But as things start to heat up, whether the world is really ready for their music - or their love - is put to the test.

It turns out that plans have indeed been in the works to adapt the musical to film, since 2010 (when the above-mentioned rumors began circulating; with Belle Pictures and The Mark Gordon Company announcing their intent to bring the acclaimed Broadway show to Hollywood and adapt it for the screen.

The project is currently set up at Alcon Entertainment, a company that has an agreement with Warner Bros to distribute its films.

Joe DiPietro, one of the musical's creators, will write the screenplay for the musical adaptation.

Of course, I'm most interested in who will be cast to play Felicia Farrell, the black singer. No word on casting yet.

Also, I should note that the starring cast of the Tony Award-winning Broadway show was predominantly African American, including Derrick BaskinJ. Bernard CallowayJames Monroe Iglehart, and several others. So there'll be a few starring and supporting roles for African American actors in the film adaptation.

I hear Beyonce and Rihanna are actively campaigning for the lead role! I'm kidding... I'm kidding...

Although, ya never know! 

It's not entirely clear whether the film will be a verbatim adaptation of the musical, or if it'll be a drama/non-musical based on the musical.

I haven't seen the Broadway musical, so, I really can't tell you much more about it than what you can already find on its website, in terms of story development, how the characters and their relationships are portrayed, etc. All you theatre buffs can chime in below, in the comments section.

Live productions of the musical were filmed and then screened in movie theaters across the USA in the spring of 2011, so some of you may have seen it that way as well.

Here's a trailer advertising that 2011 theatrical run: 

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4 Comments

  • s | April 1, 2014 12:04 PMReply

    It will have the same audience that paid to see Something New.

  • Ava | March 31, 2014 6:51 PMReply

    Having seen this a few years ago on PBS, I am surprised that someone is making a screen adaptation of this musical but you never know what constitutes someone's passion project. Perhaps a Lifetime or Hallmark Channel movie?

  • Evie Mazzone | March 31, 2014 4:18 PMReply

    I don't believe it. I have written a screenplay from scratch starting in 2007 and I named it MISCEGENATION: Unfinished Love. Entered it in contests for years just recently Kairos and Austin Film Festival, 2013. Oh my God. I am mortified that this would come up with the same name. What are the odds. And I will say I would cast Angela Bassett and Christopher Melloni as leads and Alicia Keyes and Gabrial Aubry (Halle Berry's baby daddy), as supporting actors. What are odds lead white male character name Thaddeus Calhoun. It already sucks that Hart of Dixie is based on the same premise and used the same names Dee Dee and Roscoe, what are the odds I'm asking. Not a musical. Location West Virginia. Lord have mercy a cowinkiedink????

  • Marie | March 31, 2014 1:47 PMReply

    I doubt that there's a MOVIE audience for this story but I'm interested to see if I'm wrong. And Timberlake can forget it, he's proven that he's not leading man material. I don't see an audience coming out to see him.

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