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Marvin Gaye Was Born Today... Status Of The 4 Films In Development + Rare Interview w/ Father & Son

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act April 2, 2012 at 9:27PM

Today in history... April 2, 1939, Marvin Gaye was born.
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marvin gaye

Today in history... April 2, 1939, Marvin Gaye was born.

Like Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye is another famous legendary black musician whose story has interested many moviemakers, though none of the many projects announced in recent years has seen the light of day.

The quick rundown... We know that F. Gary Gray has long been trying to get his Marvin Gaye project off the ground; and we also know that Jesse L Martin has been attached to star as the soulful singer in a film directed by newcomer, Lauren Goodman; and director Cameron Crowe has been working on a Marvin Gaye project for almost 5 years now, with most recent news stating that Terrence Howard was in talks to play the man (previously offered to Will Smith); and lastly, a 4th Marvin Gaye project was to be directed by Brit Julien Temple, tentatively titled Midnight Love (named after the album Marvin Gaye recorded in Brussels in the early 80s), and was to focus on the making of the Midnight Love album, while Gaye was living in Belgium - a drug addict, essentially considered something of a has-been.

And of those 4 Marvin Gaye films in development, the last one by Julien Temple at one time seemed like the most likely to be completed first; it had been given a greenlight, and financing for its $8 million budget; though no word on who was being considered for the title role (recall you all heavily-debated the choices in a previous post).

Principal photography was scheduled to begin in Belgium later last year.

Well, not-so fast my friends! It's not as wrapped up as we all thought it was. Janis Gaye, the late singers second and last wife (he was married twice), apparently knew nothing about this project, stating last year that she was at her home in Rhode Island last month when she read about plans to make the film (maybe she read it here on Shadow And Act ;)). Janis Gaye was said to be "very skeptical about attempts to bring Marvin Gaye's story to screen," as she has had difficulties trusting other involved parties over the years, since his death.

She was also concerned that Temple's film would "focus on his drug abuse, on other negative aspects of his life."

Well, obviously it would have. 

The hurdles in front of anyone trying to make a Gaye biopic are manifold. One essential requirement is the rights to the music. Another is an actor capable of playing the singer; Then, there are the interests of his family to consider - those of his first wife, Anna Gordy, elder sister of Motown founder Berry Gordy, and of Janis Gaye and her children.

The last report on this said that EMI, which holds the rights to Gaye’s music, on behalf of his children, Nona Gaye, Marvin Gaye III, and Frankie Gaye, was understood to be ready to give the greenlight to Julien Temple's $8 million film.

I'm not sure about the role of his 2 wives, or if they have any say in the matter anyway. But, basically, it looks like it'll be a challenge for any filmmaker interested in making a Marvin Gaye film to pass all those tests, and make everybody happy! So I'm not sure what all this means for Temple's Midnight Love project, or any of the others.

As for candidates considered to play Marvin Gaye... later last year, there was this quote from Jesse L. Martin: "(Making the film is) impossible. It's just not... I don't know (if it'll happen). I mean, I just sort of threw that one up to the universe and said, 'If it's meant to be, it'll be', but it seems impossible to put together, it really does. It just hasn't happened... There's five or six (other Gaye projects) in the works. I actually feel less pressure. There's so many stories out there trying to happen that it just seems like it might be impossible. Nobody's done it yet. We haven't done it, nobody else has either, so there seems to be a reason you haven't seen that story on the big screen yet. I don't know what it is, but we're gonna have to change tactics and do it on stage, or something like that. That would actually be a great idea! So we'll see, we'll see."

And finally, our very last report on all of this was a NY Post piece that mentioned Berry Gordy's attempts to block film productions on the life on Marvin Gaye, for fear that he (Gordy) would be depicted negatively.

"He [Gordy] basically owns the rights to the Marvin Gaye story... And he's been quietly blocking the scripts and music because he doesn't want his name dragged through the mud," a source for the NY Post said. 

As I think I've said before, I'm not holding my breath on any of the other Marvin Gaye films in development; We'll probably see a Soulja Boy biopic before a Marvin Gaye film :)

In a flashback to 1977, watch the below rare interview with Marvin Gaye Sr And Marvin Gaye Jr. Of course, roughly 7 years later, father shot son twice, killing him instantly. It's quite sad watching the below video, observing the way they related to one another at the time, knowing what would later happen.


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