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Martin Luther King Jr Was Born Today; Which Of These 5 Film Projects On His Life Will We See First?

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by Tambay A. Obenson
January 15, 2014 2:46 PM
4 Comments
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Today in history, January 15, 1929, Martin Luther King Jr was born in Atlanta, GA.

Based on information I have, there are at least 5 film projects in the works based on either the life of MLK, or some significant period during his 39 years on this planet. 

The most recent project update, last October, came in an announcement that the DreamWorks/Warners biopic that's been in development for years, now boasts Oliver Stone as director of the film, with Jamie Foxx starring as Martin Luther King Jr.

The story will follow MLK from his rise to civil rights leader, all the way to his assassination in 1968. 

The other MLK projects we know of include: Paul Greengrass's Memphis, which we learned most recently that Forest Whitaker will star in; Lee Daniels was replaced by Ava DuVernay on Selma, with David Oyelowo attached to star. Then there's Oprah’s HBO miniseries (which you'd think would be a go, although it's been years since that was announced); And finally, prior to his prison stint, Wesley Snipes planned a cinematic exploration of J. Edgar Hoover’s campaign to discredit MLK, and the fallout that followed, titled Code Name Zorro. He's out of prison now; but no word on whether this is still something on his slate.

In a related project, last year, Malik Yoba played MLK opposite Angela Bassett, as Coretta Scott King in the Lifetime original movie projectBetty And Coretta. Although it was not a film that's centered on MLK specifically.

As previously noted, one of the reasons for the holdup in the production of some of these MLK film projects was Andrew Young's objection - the civil rights activist, member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) during the 60s Civil Rights Movement, a supporter and good friend of Martin Luther King, Jr., who played a key role in the events in Birmingham, Alabama, was a strategist and negotiator that influenced the passage of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act. He was also with MLK in Memphis, Tennessee, when he was assassinated in 1968.

Young reportedly objected to scripts which included scenes of marital infidelity during MLK's final days, among other "vices."

But, thus far, none of the upcoming projects mentioned above is in production, as far as I know, and none has an exact ETA; so, anything's possible; let's see which of these makes it first to the finish line.

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4 Comments

  • Barbara | January 15, 2014 3:53 PMReply

    Only the good die young---age 39.

    Happy Birthday MLK.

  • filmloverladyeo | January 15, 2014 3:52 PMReply

    Just wanted to say, "Thank you" to Ambassador Young.

    At some point we have to stop portraying our serious cultural heros as some type of "fly by night celebrity" who bask in notoriety and scandal and whose private lives are anything but private. Certain people change history for the better and should be given respect for their accomplishment. While it is OK to show them as human, it's not OK to highlight some transgression that had nothing to do with and no apparent affect on what they accomplished. Every movie about Thomas Jefferson does not include a segment about him sleeping with his wife's Black half-sister whom he owned as a slave.

    I'm just saying, let films about great people focus on what made them great and put a stop the silly Enquirer rag sheet style. Some of us never subscribed to it and don't want to.

  • Aunt Bodi Eclectic | January 15, 2014 11:30 PM

    Thank you for so eloquently expressing our shared distaste for the disposable pop culture psyche. It's salacious and denigrating. Do not diminish Dr. King's legacy, his contribution was far too great.

  • BLACKMAN | January 15, 2014 10:53 PM

    I AGREE!

    Those that seek out the DIRT on good bLACK people ARE THE ENEMIES OF BLACK PEOPLE. A white writer denigrated MLK in the 1990's and the Critic's awarded him handsomely.

    Never trust people who look to Stain Black People. And if you are doing it. STOP!

    We did not create these economic conditions in america or this planet.

    And btw? Why in the heck is Africa poor when they posses ALL the most sought after resources????

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