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Louis Armstrong Was Born Today... What's Going On With Forest Whitaker's Biopic? Charles Dutton's?

by Tambay A. Obenson
August 4, 2011 2:44 AM
1 Comment
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Today in history... August 4th 1901, jazzman Louis Armstrong (aka Satchmo), one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century, was born in New Orleans, LA, the grandson of slaves.

Armstrong appeared in more than 40 films and TV-movies, before passing in 1971 at age 69.

But what about films made based on his life?

Most recently, in 2008, Forest Whitaker announced that he was planning to star in and direct a film based on the life of the jazzman, which he was supposed to start filming this spring. But, last I checked, that didn't happen.

"Next year in April I'm going to direct ‘Satchmo,’ the Louis Armstrong Biopic. I am going to play the character. I won't play the whole of it, it starts when he's born. But a couple of people will be performing the character... I haven't cast the movie. I probably shouldn't be talking about it because I'm still in the budgeting stages. I have ideas for casting, but I feel that as of now, every person I've approached to be on the crew who has read the script has attached themselves to it. I feel as though the same will occur with the actors because the roles are pretty amazing, really great characters. We'll see."

That was from a February 2010 interview.

Since then the project has changed titles, and is now known as simply Something Wonderful (it was initially going to be titled What A Wonderful World, after the song by the late musician).

The last we reported on it was a month later, March 2010, when we learned that the movie would indeed be a true biopic that will span Armstrong's full life, from his birth into poverty in New Orleans, to his death in New York in 1971, with Whitaker adding that we should prepare for a more elliptical take on Armstrong's life and career, contrasting public perceptions of the man with the behind-closed-doors reality.

"It covers his whole life but more from a myth point of view - it's told as two different myths of the same person."

He also said he'd met with his producers in Paris just a few days before that last report, and was reassured that the money was there, and the project was definitely a go!

So, what's going on with the project now? I dunno... IMDB says it's still "in development." I couldn't immediately find anything online that suggested more than what I have here; though if anyone knows more, feel free to share.

And, by the way, also announced in 2008, Charles S. Dutton and John Sayles were teaming up to make a mini-series for HBO based on the life of Armstrong. Not sure what happened to that. Likely dead and buried.

Oh and happy birthday to President Obama as well :)

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1 Comment

  • cole | January 25, 2013 12:30 AMReply

    I don't know how droopy eyed Forrest Whitaker is going to be convincing as Louis Armstrong with his bug eyed expressions being almost a signature of his persona. Forrest Whitaker is a great actor but the droopy eyelids make him wrong for the part from a visual standpoint. It was the first thing I notice when I saw their pictures side by side. It ain't working for me and if the casting isn't visually close it ain't going to fly.

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