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Don Cornelius' Death Revitalizes Plans For A "Soul Train" Feature Film + Stage Musical + TV Show

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act February 9, 2012 at 9:19PM

The last time we reported anything on this project was in 2009! Obviously not much has developed since then, unless we just missed it, or wasn't reported.
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Don Cornelius - Soul Train
Don Cornelius - Soul Train

The last time we reported anything on this project was in 2009! Obviously not much has developed since then, unless we just missed it, or wasn't reported.

Fast-forward to today, a week or so after Don Cornelius died, and word on the street is that there's renewed interest in a feature film based on the classic TV show Soul Train - thanks to Cornelius' death.

How unfortunate is that? The man literally had to die for his film to finally get made.

In that last 2009 post, the news was that Warner Bros. had hired a writer to pen the script - specifically Malcolm Spellman, whose only previous credit includes co-writing the screenplay for Rick Famuyiwa's Our Family Wedding.

Don Cornelius was all set to co-produce the film which was to be set in the 1980s. The film's protagonist was to come from an "L.A. hood," and his ticket out was to be his gift for popping, the style of dance that became popular in the 80s.

Cornelius reportedly told Spellman he'd always wanted to mount a tour with bands and dancers, and the writer was supposed to make that fictional tour a centerpiece of the film.

"This guy is a serious popper, with street edge, and he wants to get on that tour, with the hottest of the hot," Spellman said.

I recall not being all that interested in the film, based on everything that was revealed about it at the time, including the fact that Our Family Wedding just wasn't a very good flick, so I wasn't too excited about the choice of writers.

However, I'm still curious to see what the end product will look, sound and feel like.

And it looks like that may come much sooner, thanks to a self-inflicted gunshot wound on February 1 in Los Angeles.

So what's the story now?

Acording to THR, later in 2009, after the above report, Cornelius wanted to instead do a "buddy action comedy, like Rush Hour set in the world of Soul Train," says a Warner Bros. source.

But that project also stalled; and then the next attempt at a script imagined the film as a "coming-of-age dance movie," but Warner Bros wasn't interested in that.

The news today is that Soul Train Holdings is working with WME to find ways to essentially exploit and grow the brand, which will include a film, a stage musical AND a TV show; not sure in what order.

"Certainly we want to proceed in a way that will highlight the contribution of Don to the creation of the brand and its subsequent impact on American culture," says Kenard Gibbs, CEO of Soul Train Holdings.

However, there are some rights issues they'll have to deal with, notably the music used in each episode of the series. But they are confident that won't be a problem.

So... things seems to be in motion again, but what exactly will come of any of this is still uncertain. I'm sure they'll like to get something on schedule soon, if they are planning to exploit his death. Audiences may not be as interested in a Soul Train film, stage musical or TV show a year or two from now; certainly not as interested as they may be now, since his death touched so many, as calous as all that might sound. 

Wouldn't be the first time a celebrity's death has been exploited for profit; remember what happend after Michael Jackson's death?

Love, peace and soul indeed! :-\

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