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Exclusive: Carl Franklin Set To Write & Direct Sam Cooke Biopic; Casting Underway

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act March 26, 2013 at 8:28PM

Exclusive: Carl Franklin Set To Write & Direct Sam Cooke Biopic; Casting Underway
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Sam Cooke

It was in mid-2011 when we first announced that a Sam Cooke biopic was in the works. 


At the time, a script had already been written (by the screenwriters who penned Julie Taymor's Across The Universe, and The Commitments - Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais), which was an adaptation of Peter Guralnick's 2005 bio, Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke

The news came 4 years after author Guralnick produced the award-winning documentary Sam Cooke: Legend, said to be "the only authorized documentary on Cooke." 

The film was to cover Cooke's entire life (born in 1931, died in 1964), and, apparently, all rights (music and life rights) to Cooke's story had been secured from the Cooke family estate, and the production team behind the project planned to independently finance it (no surprise there certainly), with the hunt for a star and director to attach to the project.

There hasn't been an update on that biopic since that initial announcement - nothing that we've known about anyway - and it looks like the project is dead; one, which I recall, a lot of you were excited about.

But not to worry, because, earlier today, I learned that another Sam Cooke film is definitely in the works, and this one already has a writer and director attached to it, and has also begun casting!

The writer/director is one Mr Carl Franklin, whom I'm sure you're all familiar with - Devil In A Blue DressOne False Move, and most recently Bless Me, Ultima, to name a few.

To be produced by Mark Ciardi, Gordon Gray, and Jody Klein, here's how the currently-untitled project is described:

This is the true story of the legendary singer/songwriter Sam Cooke, who started out as a Gospel singer and horrified his fellow musicians when he crossed over into pop music. Enormously successful, Sam was less happy in his personal life, since his relentless womanizing and touring schedule alienated his troubled wife Barbara, in a marriage that went into a downward spiral after the tragic death of their baby son.

ABKCO Films is the production house behind the project - a company with a number of music-themed films on their resume, including a DVD release of the previously mentioned documentary, Sam Cooke – Legend

Carl Franklin
Carl Franklin

They've also released docs featuring The Rolling StonesEric Clapton, George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Ringo Starr, to name a few.

Casting has begun on the project, as a search for an actor to play Cooke is underway; but no word on expected production start or release dates.

Franklin's first theatrically-released film in a decade, Bless Me, Ultima, based on Rudolfo Anaya’s award-winning novel of the same name, opened across the country, in a limited release, in February.

The film chronicles the turbulent coming-of-age story of Antonio, a young boy growing up in New Mexico during World War II, and his relationship with Ultima, an elderly medicine woman who helps Antonio navigate the dangerous battle between good and evil raging in his village, and ultimately helps him discover his own spiritual identity.

Prior to Bless me Ultima, Franklin's last big screen feature release was Out Of Time in 2003. Although he directed lots of episodic TV after that film, and continues to do so.

I think he's a great fit for this Sam Cooke project, and I'd glad he's getting the opportunity!

Stay tuned...

This article is related to: Carl Franklin


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