Marvin Gaye's Family Now Urging Jesse L. Martin To Walk Away From Julien Temple's Biopic

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by Tambay A. Obenson
March 11, 2013 12:38 PM
8 Comments
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Bah! Humbug! It doesn't end...

Not to bring you down from the highs many of you were on after it was revealed that Jesse L. Martin had replaced the previously cast Lenny Kravitz, to play Marvin Gaye in Julien Temple's biopic of the man, titled Sexual Healing...

After Marvin Gaye's son (Marvin Gaye III), who's also a childhood friend of Kravitz, publicly urged Kravitz to "walk away from the role" when he was initially cast, adding that he was "shocked" that Lenny actually agreed to star in the project, calling it "shameful," Kravitz did even tually step down (to be replaced by Jesse L. Martin), although it's still not public why he walked away from the role, and whether he felt pressure from Gaye's son to do that. I'm sure Lenny will talk about this eventually... Unless he already has, and we've just missed it.

Now Janis Gaye, the late singer's second and last wife (he was married twice), is doing the same thing with Jesse L. Martin, urging him to follow in Lenny Kravitz's footsteps by stepping aay from staring in the movie.

Why? Well, Janis has never really approve of Temple's project anyway.

She says that she has “generally felt “very skeptical” about any attempts to bring Marvin Gaye’s story to screen,” as she has had difficulties trusting other involved parties over the years, since his death. She is also concerned that Temple’s film – which will focus on the latter half of Gaye’s life, his time in Belgium, a drug addict, essentially considered something of a has-been – would “focus on his drug abuse, and on other negative aspects of his life.

Well, obviously it will. It's a question of how balanced Temple's depiction of Gaye will be in the film.

The hurdles in front of anyone trying to make a Gaye biopic are several - a key one being the interests of his family to consider – those of his first wife, Anna Gordy, elder sister of Motown founder Berry Gordy, and of Janis Gaye and her children.

Janis did give her reasons for why she thinks Lenny Kravitz walked away from the project, telling New York Daily News: "Ultimately, I think it was Lenny's heart and soul and conscience that caused him to step away," adding that, "Hopefully, that touches Jesse in the same way... I don't think Marvin is a very happy spirit right now."

He may/may not be, but I think Jesse L. Martin was fully aware of the controversy around the making of Temple's film, and walked into it ready to push forward, no matter who was for or against it. So, I don't expect Jesse to suddenly have a change of heart, especially since he's by dying to play Marvin Gaye for several years now - his own project pretty much dead. Martin had long been attached to star in another Marvin Gaye biopic that was to be directed by newcomer, Lauren Goodman, and produced by James Gandolfini.

It's been a long journey for the various Marvin Gaye projects that we've been following since this site was created almost 4 years ago, and it looks like Temple's film will be first off the blocks, without the approval of Gaye's son, and ex-wife.

It was early in 2011 that it had been given a greenlight, and financing for its $8 million budget; Principal photography was scheduled to begin in Belgium late 2011, but that didn't happen. There were some music rights issues outstanding.

An earlier report on this said that EMI, which holds the rights to Gaye’s music was understood to be ready to give the greenlight to Julien Temple's $8 million film. So it could be that Temple doesn't need the explicit script approval from Gaye's family, nor Berry Gordy (who also opposed the project) to move forward with it, and it was strictly a music rights hold-up, which has now been resolved.

Shooting is now set to begin later this month in Europe, with Brendan Gleason co-starring alongside Jesse L. Martin as Gaye.

Let's see if this actually does move forward, or if it experiences further hold-ups, like say, Jesse L. Martin also eventually walks away from it...


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8 Comments

  • Sharnee925 | May 25, 2013 5:16 AMReply

    I'm a huge fan of mr Gaye. And he didn't seem to have a problem being high all the time. It is what is,those of us who truly loved his music loved him regardless. Any body who knows marvin Gaye wether from the 60s on up,when u reminisce about him,convo always gonna end with his drug problem. So the family needs to stop it, it's not gonna change any of our minds how we loved him as a entertainer. He loved his fans,now back off and let us decide,and stop trying to protect someone we don't care to know about. YOURSELFS

  • Gregg Calumet | March 12, 2013 12:26 AMReply

    Cindy, I knew about Marvin's father being a crossdresseer. That was in a documentary that aired on PBS. However, I have never heard of anything suggesting he--Marvin--was bi/gay.

  • Donella | March 11, 2013 8:17 PMReply

    I hope there's a happy medium. Jesse L. Martin is the right one for Marvin Gaye.

  • Jules | March 14, 2013 2:00 PM

    I agree. I hope his family backs off and allow the filmmakers to do their thing. I think Jesse will do Marvin justice. He's perfect for the role.

  • Beemooree | March 11, 2013 7:42 PMReply

    If he doesn't do it, someone else will. It's going to get made regardless

  • ALM | March 11, 2013 2:33 PMReply

    Man, dang it, dang it, dang it! It look how many weeks and how many prayers to get Lenny to step down and Jesse to step up?

    Now the family wants Jesse to pull back? I understand not wanting to speak ill of those who have passed away, but even "Ray" showed his struggles with addiction. They don't have to spend a long time on Marvin's issues, but 20 or 30 minutes of the movie should be a warts and all portrayal. At this rate, we'll never see a Marvin biopic that is interesting enough to do him justice.

  • mawon | March 11, 2013 1:20 PMReply

    Families are so annoying and predictable. They want a Disney version of their loved ones life. As far as film making is concerned, telling the best story should be the most important factor. Not balance or positivity, but the best, compelling story.

  • Erik W | March 11, 2013 1:17 PMReply

    So basically she wants a soft soap concert movie?

    He's a public figure. I understand the family's concern about making sure its balanced but they need to go somewhere and sit down. Knowing the truth about his negative side (which for years has not been a secret anyway) will not take away the public's love for his music.

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