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

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by Tambay A. Obenson
April 2, 2012 9:27 PM
6 Comments
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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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6 Comments

  • chance | September 10, 2012 1:13 PMReply

    http://soundcloud.com/chance-mcdermott/marvin-gaye-whats-happening

  • Donella | April 4, 2012 1:23 PMReply

    ****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)***MISTAKE!!! I'd like to see Jesse L. Martin's portrayal because he seems to have the greatest passion for the subject. Clearing music permissions would be a hurdle as well as overcoming reservations by Berry Gordy and the Gaye's children. Gordy is right to be worried because the world might see how hard he fought against Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Smokey Robinson's efforts to publish and produce their own music. I'd love very much to see that story told. Gaye's story should not just cover his drug abuse, but also his family life, songwriting, contributions to civil rights, and influence at Motown.

  • Donella | April 5, 2012 1:53 PM

    I believe Marvin Gaye's songwriting ability has been minimized. Any movie project that acknowledges his passion to the point of fighting the system for his publishing rights has my support. I totally respect Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Michael Jackson, Prince and other songwriters for fighting for their art.

  • CareyCarey | April 4, 2012 1:56 PM

    @ Donella, I have to question this statement---> You said "Gaye's story should not just cover his drug abuse, but also his family life". The word "just" woefully/grossly minimizes the affect his drug abuse played in shaping his entire life and that of his family and his music (songwriting). My sentiments @ the other post --->(On Vices vs Virtues & Depictions Of Iconic Black Figures On Screen) http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/martin-luther-king-jr-died-today-on-vices-vs-virtues-depictions-of-iconic-black-figures-on-screen

  • Mekisha Hale | April 3, 2012 6:45 PMReply

    In some lives of others there so many stories that are told and so many stories that haven't ever been told. That story should be told honestly and in every detail as possible with all the other bio-pic's that have been made lately there is this special biography that definitely needs to be told The Marvin Gaye Story. I do remember awhile back when Shadow and Act discussed of some bio-pic's that were in the works. But indifference in how the life of Marvin Gaye's story would be told,was held up by the owner of Motown Berry Gordy because he was indiffence with how he was to be depicted in the life story of "Marvin Gaye". So that was one real issue,but is also not such a great reason to still not tell the story. The other with director Julien Temple wants to do the story on Marvin Gaye on his way back to the genius status with the recovery of his career and the most intensify awaited album titled "Midnight Love" more about the making then just the entire career of Marvin Gaye. But instead that's more about how the album was made at that time and the success that came with after being away from the scene for some time. But there's a problem with others who knew Marvin Gaye and even there,there's conflict with how the story is told and there's conflict instead of complete agreement. Without the whole family no on aboard with how this legendary story can be told then how will it be really be told authentic or at least as close as it possible could be told that's completely understood. There are so many facets of "Marvin Gaye" of an point of view stand point that you could make any sort of story into a play or even an musical. And of course even into an motion picture. With so many who still love the music of this artist Marvin Gaye I think the public and the fans are totally on board for the story that all should and should be told of the Marvin Gaye story I think it's time do you think. For which the times we live in and the social conscious that was the music I think it's been time long enough!!!

  • tmack | April 2, 2012 10:35 PMReply

    Looking at the video of Marvin Gaye and his father is simply sad. How effed up does one have to be to kill his own child? Thomas Wolfe writes you can never go home again, but the better caveat is that you shouldn't even try to go home again. His father's sickness had to be quite evident before that last phase of his life.

    I recall the night Gaye was shot so clearly. I'd taken my son to Rainbo Roller Rink on Chicago's North Side, an urban rink where you skate at your own risk! We left around 8 or 9pm and when I turned on the car radio, WVON was playing Marvin Gaye, then there was the announcement that Gaye had died. It was as shocking as when I heard Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston had unexpectedly died. But with Gaye, it was different--the Sexual Healing Man, the Distant Lover Man. His fans related to him sensually, particularly us ladies.

    Yes, I still listen to Marvin Gaye. Have his best on my ipod. A Gaye film could be just as great as Ray turned out to be. Hope someone succeeds. Which do you think would likely be the best production, btw?

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