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Berry Gordy Eying $100 Million Broadway Musical Based On His Life + He's Blocking Marvin Gaye Films?

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act May 16, 2011 at 7:24AM

Reading THIS piece on the New York Post's website this afternoon, and learned the following: that Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr. is indeed developing a Broadway musical based on his life "to set the record straight on the inception of the iconic label."
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Reading THIS piece on the New York Post's website this afternoon, and learned the following: that Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr. is indeed developing a Broadway musical based on his life "to set the record straight on the inception of the iconic label."

The budget? $100 million!!! WTF? I'm no theater geek, but I think I can say with some certainty that a $100 million Broadway production is unheard of. Wasn't the troubled Spiderman musical, budgeted at about $65 million, said to be the most expensive Broadway show ever? And this dude is reportedly eying a $100 million budget for his autobiographical show?

Somebody out there enlighten me... how feasible is this?

The NY Post does quote sources who say Berry apparently has the money, with investors line up, which I find very hard to believe. But what do I know?

Berry, who's been wanting to do this for awhile, is also reportedly working to get Diana Ross and Smokey Robinson involved, though it doesn't say in what capacity.

My question is... With that kind of money, assuming this to be the case, wouldn't a film make a lot more sense than a theater production, since it'll likely reach far more people around the country, especially if his intent is to "set the record straight?"

I should mention that, some of you may recall that, last summer, I posted an entry on award-winning director, Bill T. Jones' intentions to bring Berry Gordy’s life story to the Broadway stage as a musical. I have no idea if he's involved in Berry Gordy's proposed $100 million project; I'd guess so.

Also worth noting, the NY Post piece mentions Gordy's attempts to block film productions on the life on Marvin Gaye, for fear that he (Gordy) would be depicted negatively.

As we already know, there are/have been a number of planned Marvin Gaye projects over the years, though none of them has seen the light of day. Our last post on the matter centered on Jesse L. Martin's frustrations with the delays in getting his version produced, saying that getting a Marvin Gaye film made at this point was "impossible," though he didn't give explicit reasons why. I guess we can identify one of those reasons are Gordy's interference, since he owns the rights to most of Motown's catalogs, including Marvin Gaye's music.

"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.

This article is related to: Things That Make You Go Hmm..., Theater


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